Meet Schneider

By forareason

Exhausted and struggling in life, a young boy and his family are given a life changing opportunity.

When the devastating earthquake of 2010 shook the country of Haiti an estimated 1.5 million lives were drastically changed. Much of the fragile infrastructure of the country was destroyed and thousands upon thousands of those who survived the earthquake were displaced. Without homes, most sought shelter in tents supplied by various international relief organizations; tents meant to be temporary until families could relocate or rebuild. Schneider’s family was one such family.

For a Reason founder, Denise Gideon was first introduced to Schneider in 2011 by board member Jean Jeannot Joseph, who volunteers as the program coordinator in Haiti. Schneider’s mother was struggling to keep her son in school even while still living in a tent one year after the earthquake. Schneider himself was so determined to take advantage of every opportunity to learn that he slept on the steps of his school during the week rather than returning home each evening. He wanted to be sure he was on time each day and life in a year old tent was not much of a reason to make the journey back and forth.

Of course FAR wanted to support this mother and son who were both so clearly determined to continue Schneider’s education. Schneider was shy and solemn when Gideon first met him but expressed relief that For a Reason would help his mother provide for his education. Even at a young age he realized the sacrifice his mother was making to keep him in school and was hopeful FAR support would lessen her burden. FAR assumed responsibility for Schneider’s tuition, school supplies and uniform and as Joseph monitored Schneiders progress, he proved to be not only an excellent student but one who took advantage of opportunities to serve others in his community.

The next year, Joseph shared with board members that Schneider was continuing to do well in school. His mother, however, was still living in a now, two year old tent. What was intended to be temporary shelter with minimal support and a dirt floor, had weathered hurricanes and tropical storms for those two years. Schneider’s mother was also dealing with an undiagnosed illness along with trying to provide for her son. As would be expected, mother and son wanted to be together. They belonged together. They needed each other. The question was asked, could FAR build the family a house? Should FAR build a family a house?

Building a home was an undertaking that had not been part of the original vision of For a Reason. And yet, it was acknowledged that a secure home life was as important as a school uniform and supplies for a child’s educational success. Wouldn’t Schneider be better able to study his math and French lessons at home without worrying about his mother and her health? Didn’t such a determined boy deserve to return to a home where he was loved and supported? Shouldn’t a mother and son be able to weather the storms of life and nature together? Yes, yes and yes.

The decision was made to begin building the home right away hoping for its completion before the upcoming rainy season. FAR insisted that its construction would withstand the storms that frequently visit Haiti and that it would provide security for the family, and particularly Schneider. Joseph agreed to oversee construction of the home and began negotiating for building supplies and employing Haitian workers in its construction.

During a recent trip to Haiti, Gideon and board member Serena Beeks were able to visit Schneider and his mother in their finished home. Although simple by American standards, the home boasts a door that locks, a cement floor, metal roof and wiring for electricity should it become available to the region in the future. They learned that Schneider’s mother was no longer struggling with illness, attributed to nearly three years of mold and mildew on the tent’s walls and that she was once again able to participate in community activities and enjoy her son’s accomplishments.

The real surprise came when, as Beeks and Gideon approached the home, not only Schneider came out to greet them but two younger brothers and an elderly grandmother appeared as well. Without enough space in the cramped, weathered tent and with a mother growing increasingly ill, they had been forced to live elsewhere with other family members in the region. It was a movingmomenttorealizethatFARhad been able to help reunite a family into a safe and secure home.

Thanks to the generous donations of FAR supporters like you, a family is together, stronger and healthier, and Schneider is not only able to continue his education with his mother and family supporting him but is laughing again and looking forward to a promising future.

It is for this reason that For a Reason exists!

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