By Charles Mathews, Samaritan’s Purse country director for Haiti
Everyone around me was dressed in his or her Sunday best. They had come to see their mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, and grandchildren graduate. They came to celebrate what God had done through the Women’s Community Support Groups program in Cabaret, Haiti, which teaches people to read, provide for their families, and how to manage small businesses. They also came to bear witness to the restoration of hope experienced in their families.
The ceremony started with the beneficiaries reading their song sheets and from the Bible. Most of these women could not read or write their own name before their participation in the Samaritan’s Purse project. Now, they performed these tasks in front of a group of 500 people.
This was a significant event. It symbolized so much in the broken country of Haiti. Thanks to this program, even if the families cannot afford to send their children or grandchildren to school, they will not be socially handicapped by illiteracy. These courageous women now not only know the value of being able to read and write, but also the value of passing it on from generation to generation. The testimonies they gave of life before being able to fully engage in society provide evidence to the revolutionary nature of this project on their lives.
Graduation day was a time to recognize the accomplishments of those we care about. It was a time when we not only congratulated them, but also witnessed and attested to the fact that they have achieved something of value. They have passed, they are good enough, they have risen to an occasion and have overcome it.
With hundreds of onlookers and even some skeptics present, these women displayed a new testimony. They professed with their lives that education, growth, and a fuller life can be achieved through hard work and commitment. Women who could not read a single word in their Bibles can now not only tell their loved ones about the transforming power of God’s grace, they can also read it to them.