The Tent School: Beginnings
At the beginning of 2009, we received a document from a friend of ours, Dr. Raymond Ford, who runs a medical clinic and a school in Haiti. Dr. Ford told us that it was written by a group of Haitians that had been passing it around for several years to anyone who would read it. Their proposal was a plea for help—help to educate the children of Tremesse, kids who otherwise sat around all day with empty bellies and minds eager to learn. After hearing about the conditions in Tremesse, we arranged a visit before even translating the document.
Tin Roof Temporary School
Over the next year we were able to find enough funding to purchase land, and then to put in a well - vital in a country where water-borne diseases are a killer. And then, as funds starting running low, we put in a temporary school that at least had a solid roof that didn’t leak. Just after that tin-roof structure was finished, we stood inside it in front of the children and promised them that concrete walls and real classrooms were next. As always, we didn’t know how we’d get the funds, but we knew that good Lord would provide.
The Permanent School
This is the first phase of our school development program. In 2011 we built 6 single story classrooms that have 14 ft ceilings to reduce heat impact, steel reinforced cement block walls with fans, electric lights, and a new water well. We are trying to limit the class sizes to 25 students. We have also purchased land for a garden, chicken coop, and talapia farm.
Tremesse Community Center and Chapel
The school continued to grow and the Tremesse village and Hands for Haiti Board also want to provide Christian Faith Base Education and guidance. We looked at possible alternatives that would meet this goal and provide space for classrooms, lunchroom, and adult education in the evenings. We designed a 3,200 square foot multi-use building that can be utilized for 4 classes, adult education, church services, and a hurricane evacuation center. The new building was completed in December 2013.
Starting in 2014 , we built a chicken coop and purchased 50 hens. The hens produced 40-45 eggs per day for a year. We continued to add more chickens and increased the chicken coop in 2016 and now have 200 chickens producing an egg per day. The eggs are added to the daily meals given to the children. In 2015 Hands for Haiti and Rise Against Hunger joined forces to provide a new food sustainability project in Tremesse. The project included 2 new solar powered wells, three 1,000 gallon storage tanks and 60,000 ft plastic liner for the tilapia pond.
In 2015, we built a stand alone administration building to make room for more classrooms in the school. Our school administrator and principal work out of this building.
Tilapia PondIn 2015, we installed and stocked an approximately 40’ x 80’ pond, which yields a monthly harvest of fish to supplement student lunches.
Due to needing more space as we added another grade level every year, temporary partitions were erected in the Community Center/Chapel. This was repeated in each of the next 2 years as our students moved up through the 9th grade
Our founder and Executive Director Mark Creasser passed away unexpectedly, prompting a re-alignment of board member duties. Fr. Leon was named as our new Administrator, appointed by the Catholic Archdiocese of Cap Haitian. A sanitization building was added to our campus, with toilets and a septic system.
Addition Of Temporary Classrooms
With no more room for partitioned classes in the Community Center, and as we worked to finalize plans for additional permanent classrooms, canvas tents on concrete slabs we erected. These lasted for several years during the COVID pandemic, until we could return to Haiti to complete our master plan for more classrooms
Fr. Leon celebrated our inaugural class of students receiving Holy Communion, and St. Marc now holds monthly Mass
Build 5 More Temporary Classrooms
With continued uncertainty about costs and timing of starting new permanent classrooms, the decision was made to build 5 more temporary ones, made of plywood, gravel floors and a tin roof.
Campus Master Plan
Campus master plans were finalized, and construction began on 10 classrooms, plus 6 more for a trade school.