"Back To School" Represents Time of Fears, Hopes For Haiti's Poor Families

In a few short weeks, it will begin again. The summer vacation will end marked by a barrage of “back to school” ads in newspapers and on television – sure signs that millions of American children will soon be returning to their classrooms.

Here in America, the cycle of attending school each year is so familiar that we take it for granted, like the changing of the seasons themselves.

“ I wish everyone in the world was as blessed as we are – but that's far from the truth. In most of the Third World, children long to go to school, but they are denied by their poverty or their circumstances. There simply isn't the same access to an education in places like Haiti. And that lack of opportunity steals hope from the children and creates a deep sense of anxiety and despair in their parents,” explained Jim Cavnar, president of Cross International Catholic Outreach, one of the nation's leading relief and development ministries. From its founding, Cross has made educational programs a priority of its ministry, and it has encouraged American Catholics to support its outreaches as a means of providing the poorest of the poor with a way out of their desperate situation.

“ When people tell us that they want to help the poor in a meaningful way, we suggest they contribute to one of our educational programs,” Cavnar said. “Everyone has heard the saying, 'Give a man a fish and you feed him for day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.' But, that needs to be more than a clever slogan for it to result in real change. If you believe in the power of an education, contribute to that work. Make a gift that will fund a child's education or allow a poor school to hire a teacher. In that way, your convictions will have real meaning and your actions will have a direct and profound impact.”

You can be certain that your contribution to support educational programs for the poor will be deeply appreciated too.

“ Believe me – poor children in Haiti don't take an education for granted. They understand the value of this opportunity and they apply themselves to the work with excitement and a real sense of hope. Their parents are also thrilled when their youngsters are accepted into a church-run school. They see it as a chance for the family to break out of their cycle of poverty. They see it as a new beginning,” Cavnar said.

In his nearly 15 years as a leader in ministries to the poor, Cavnar has also seen the direct and inspiring results of educating poor children. This is an outreach that produces profound results not just for the child, but for entire families.

“ I can remember one woman whose family literally survived by scavenging on a public dump, collecting food and items they could use or sell. Her daughter's education led to a good job and that effectively broke the cycle of poverty that had plagued the family for generations. That's a common result of this program – families that have been plagued by illiteracy and desperation have their cycle of poverty broken, and the impact changes things for the better for generations to come,” He explained.

Cross International Catholic Outreach is both creative and cost-effective in its approach to educating the poor. Rather than build its own schools and bring in outside staff members, Cross partners with priests, nuns and parishes already in place overseas, helping them initiate or expand their own schools. This brings the cost of educating a child down to as little as $60 to $75 for the entire year! Clearly, it's a strategy that gives a donor a lot of bang for the buck.

“ Everyone has heard the saying, 'Give a man a fish and you feed him for day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.' But, that needs to be more than a clever slogan for it to result in real change.

Jim Cavnar,

President of Cross International

“ Right now, there are hundreds of children who should be going to school, but they aren't preparing to go because they don't have shoes or books or some other requirement. We can change that. With a contribution of $60, we can make a child's dream come true. We can send that little one to school. We can change his or her life forever!” Cavnar said. “And I'm confident my Catholic brothers and sisters will help us respond to that call to action. We understand the value of an education – we always have. And this is a wonderful opportunity to give this valuable gift to a child who has no place else to turn for help.”

Readers interested in making a tax-deductible contribution to support Cross International Catholic Outreach and its educational outreach to the poor can use the Cross brochure enclosed in this issue of the newspaper. Gifts can also be mailed to: Cross International Catholic Outreach, Dept. AD00224, 490 White Pond Drive, PO Box 63, Akron, OH 44309-0063.