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Valley teacher heads to Haiti on volunteer mission
A Comox Valley teacher is one of just three Canadian teachers heading to Haiti in an effort to improve education.
Gail Martindale, an aboriginal education support teacher, signed up to volunteer for Project Teach/Konbit Pwof, and will travel to Haiti Friday to help lead seminars in Jacmel and Port-au-Prince for two weeks.
The seminars are designed to help Haitian teachers and administrators become more effective in their teaching, classroom management and school administration.
“I’m really passionate about education, and helping communities and people to move forward in a better way,” Martindale says. “I think that education is the key for that, the key for … having a better life.
“I like the idea of working with the teachers too, because I think if you’re going to have any kind of an impact that’s a great place to have it. In any society where children are being taught, if you can have an impact on the teachers themselves, that actually can have some positive change.”
Martindale got the idea to volunteer for the non-profit organization from her friend Carol Barton, who is a teacher in Summerland, B.C. and has volunteered for Project Teach for the past couple of years.
Barton is going to Haiti again this summer and when Martindale saw a Facebook post from Barton requesting more volunteers, she decided to apply.
About 15 teachers have signed up as volunteers, though only three are from the Canada, including Martindale and Barton; the rest are American.
The program focuses on positive ways of interacting with children and how to develop individual relationships with them. According to Project Teach’s website, corporal punishment is common in many schools in developing countries, and teaching respect for children’s human rights and dignity is an important part of the program.
Volunteer teachers pay for their own flight to Haiti, plus a $500 fee for food, transportation and accommodation while in Haiti. The fee also helps cover the cost of Haitian translators, as Haitian Creole and French are the country’s languages.
Martindale has rounded up a selection of school supplies, like pencils, paper, scissors and glue, to give to the Haitian teachers she meets.
Though she’s looking forward to helping the teachers, Martindale expects to learn and grow from the experience, too.
“That’s what I think the big thing will be for me, is the learning that I get from the experience,” she says, adding she’s very excited about the trip.
“I’ve heard lots about the people and lots about how eager they are to learn, and how loving and outgoing, and just what great people, they are.”
For more about Project Teach, visit http://projectteachhaitiorg.fatcow.com/.