When a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, Dr. David Vanderpool ’78, a vascular surgeon and missionary, was one of the first responders to provide care on the ground. David felt called to continue helping the people of Haiti and, after selling his home and medical practice, moved to the country with his wife Laurie. The family’s nonprofit organization, LiveBeyond, now owns a compound outside Port-au-Prince that provides medical care, clean water, education, and support to the people of Haiti.
Throughout his journey, David has stayed in touch with his St. Mark’s family and even returned to campus last year to share his story. For several years, the St. Mark’s community service program has worked extensively with LiveBeyond, raising funds and donating books and supplies to its school. After lots of planning and organizing by the Community Service Board, the boys took an exciting new step this year.
Over the past few weeks, groups of Marksmen have been video conferencing directly with students at the LiveBeyond Primary School in Thomazeau, Haiti. They practice English by exchanging stories about their lives and families. English teacher Curtis Smith even popped into one call, lending his own English language expertise. In addition to tutoring and helping with their homework, Marksmen traced the Haitian students’ daily route to school through Google Maps.
“Unfortunately, Haiti’s education system is extremely broken and inadequate. However, with the help of the highly qualified students and faculty at St. Mark’s, we are hopeful that this system will be changed for the better,” said Dr. David Vanderpool.
Jorge Correa, St. Mark’s Community Service Director, hopes to continue hosting meetings between students at St. Mark’s and in Haiti and add more structure to their interactions. As he said, “For our students to have the opportunity to meet other boys who are so far away, not only in geographical distance but also in the way they live their lives, is an extraordinary learning experience.”