It’s a cold and breezy morning in the high mountain village of Boukan Chat, Haiti. The children of the village have walked from varying distances to get to school, some from as far away as five miles. They have settled into the small school building at the center of town. Dressed in their school uniforms, sitting on wood benches, they wait for the teacher to start class.
It’s a bit dark in the classroom as there is no electricity for lights in the village of Boukan Chat, Haiti. They hear a commotion from the back of the dark room and turn to see a six-foot tall Black-capped Petrel walk into the room flapping its wings. Laughing, but also a bit startled, they realize it’s a man dressed as the petrel, and he is being followed into the room by another man they recognize as Rene Jeune. They realize the man dressed up as the petrel must be Tinio Louis, who they also know.
Both Tinio and Rene have been visiting the schools of Boukan Chat since 2013. Working as youth environmental educators for EPIC, Grupo Jaragua, and ACSEH, they are two of the best in their field as teachers. They are currently teaching programs in the schools, once a month, that focus on a wide variety of environmental issues. They have programs about the water cycle, the role of soil, why plants are so important, how to recycle, and ways that wildlife and forests interact. These programs provide vital information about the way the earth functions and the role that people play as part of that cycle of life.
Tinio and Rene also developed a program specifically about the Black-capped Petrel and that is the topic for today's lesson. As the mascot flaps around the room, it’s as if the bird itself is there in front of them. Rene speaks in quiet tones about the beauty of the bird and how it is special and rare and nests nearby. He talks about the relationship that the people of Boukan Chat have with the petrel and the role they play in protecting the bird from extinction. After a while, the bird soars out of the darkened school room and out into the clouds outside. The excited children chat about the bird and the two teachers, who all clearly enjoyed the day’s lesson.