The most important thing in the world to all of us is our kids. And next is the way they get to grow up and especially their education. You know that the learning start they get will play the most important role in their lives and you are willing to sacrifice what is needed to ensure their training.
As you travel the cultures between the first world and the third world everything changes. That is everything except the love parents have for their children and the dreams they have for their future. Another thing that’s pretty universal is everyone will take advantage of you if they can. The best weapon against being taken advantage of is knowledge. Knowledge gained through education.
It probably seems strange to open a page titled 'Education' and see a picture of an ox-cart at the cane scales. The cane scales are and integral part of why education is so important to the 'Sugar Cane Kids'. One of the earliest reports Lean Luc told about life in the cane was an account of how the cutters were being oppressed by being cheated by those that operated the scales. He explained how the scales had two modes of operation. They could be set to weigh either USA Tons (2,000 pounds or short ton) or UK Tons (2,240 pounds or long ton). The sugar cane was weighed by the scale set to UK tons, or long ton. As it entered the refinery it was weighed using the short ton.
The scale operator was responsible for paying the cutters as the cane came in to be weighed. They were reimbursed by the refinery when it arrived for processing. The cutters were being cheated 240 pounds on every ton they cut. The scale operators were getting rich by this scheme.
Jean Luc discovered this and set to work training the cutters so they could determine how the scale was set, how to read the scale, and how to calculate the wages owed. You can read more about the cane cutters oppression at Cain Economics.
As cruel as this scheme was, Jean Luc realized there was larger oppression in the cane fields. He found that the children received no education and realized they without education they would be shackled to the same life as their parents.
Understanding this great injustice he set about to change it.
Today many of the bateyes have a school that has been built by the sugar company and have a teacher who is paid by the Dominican government. Several bateyes have schools that are attended by children living nearby. Living nearby means walking as much as 2- 3 miles to get to school each day.
The schools are filled with children but not all children are able to go or want to go. One of the Social Services offered by the hospital is to encourage more children to attend school. Strangely enough sometimes this process starts with convincing parents the value of education. Another deterrent to attending school is the requirement that every student must wear a uniform, including shoes, to classes. The expense of uniforms, especially in families with more than one student, is a great sacrifice for the family.
The Sugar Cane Kids program was established several years ago to assist these schools, children, and families. Schools receive assistance through the work and financial gifts of volunteer teams. Schools have been renovated and in several situations new desks and chalkboards have been purchased. For many other schools supplies from pencils to textbooks have been distributed. Several groups make uniforms when they are in the US and carry them into La Romana on their next visit.
In addition to the state run schools there are three schools sponsored by churches in the region. The Maranatha Church in La Romana is the administrator for a school in Batey 35. The church in San Pedro de Macoris continues to sponsor the oldest of the three schools and Colegio Evangelico Moriah, Las Colinas II has been teaching since 2001. For more about these schools visit the links to their pages.
Each of the churches in the region maintain a list of church members and others that have completed high school and are interested in pursuing a degree program at the university in San Pedro. Individuals and groups of volunteers have been supporting this program for the last twelve years. For more information please visit the link to University Scholarship Program.
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