What Roxana and Bennett Are Up To
With John Ryan abroad, Bennett and I have been considering ways to continue being closely involved with him and with the country of Haiti. I first traveled to Haiti a few years before ever meeting John. In 2012 I went to Port-au-Prince with a dear friend of mine who is Haitian. She was getting married there, and I came along as a bridesmaid/friend who was interested in traveling and learning the best ways to help others. I had traveled abroad before and had even spent a few months working with street children in Bolivia, but nothing could have prepared me for the way Haiti transformed my heart. My friend and I brought some donated gifts with us but they were few and I remember wanting so badly to do more.
I believe that at that time God was preparing my heart for my husband and for our future. A few years later, I met John Ryan who is very passionate about working together with the Haitian people and constantly does so though his research and volunteer work. While we were dating, I once again returned to Haiti, this time with John, his dad, his aunt, and a small team. We collaborated with people in a small village in Haiti's Central Plateau called Layaye to continue their pursuit of clean water and education for their children. I just loved being a part of an amazing team of Haitians and Americans that was striving to produce a better future.
John is conducting his research right now but for years he has been part of the partnership between the Catholic parish in Layaye, Haiti, their high school, and St. Maximillian Kolbe Parish in West Chester, PA, where JR grew up. One of the main goals of the St. Maximillian Kolbe Parish is to support the local high school in Layaye. The desire for this school and the original commitment in time, resources, and planning came from the people of Layaye themselves. This is their school and we are proud to partner with them. Just like in the US, running a school requires funding for: teachers, utilities, repairs, and supplies. However, the people of Layaye are limited in their resources and have a very hard time funding the school on their own, since this is a farming community and rural life has been difficult recently. When the members of this Haitian community cannot afford to keep the school doors open, everyone in the community suffers. Teachers no longer make money to support their families, and the students that cannot afford to travel to schools in the bigger cities end up losing the access to education. The St. Maximillian Kolbe Parish is working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen in Layaye. Though the support of the church, the people of Layaye have been able to keep the school open and even reopen 10th through 12th grades which were previously closed due to lack of funding. They are so thankful for the support of the parish and so am I, along with John and the many people who worked hard to raise the support for the school. This includes my father-in-law, Bob McGreevy, John’s Aunt Deb, and so many others. I am so thankful that God is allowing me to be a part of a team that is working hard to make a better future together with the people of Layaye.
One of my (and Bennett’s) goals this year is to keep everyone updated on how the school is doing and to continue to spread the word about the international camaraderie that joins these church communities.
Some of the precious children in Layaye!
And here is little Bennett growing bigger every day!