Exciting news! New school opens on
February 1, 2015,
The Charmont Bilingual Academy!
We have been busy sending new desks, whiteboards, supplies and even some fun stuff for the playground! The new school is K-9 and will offer English and Spanish education. This will allow our kids to move into better paying jobs in their own tourist industry. It also allows them to pursue sponsorships and scholarships to further their education. The Charmont Bilingual Academy will feature an expanded library, quality teachers and a breakfast program.
In November of 2010, an explosion at a resort in Mexico shattered the life of a Drumheller family. The Charmont family lost its patriarch Chris and youngest child John. While the pain will likely never fade, they have found a way to remember them and help those most in need of help. Last month a library was officially opened in Roatan, Honduras in Johnny’s name. Johnny’s heart was inextricably linked to the Morgan Jayne Project, which supports families in Roatan dealing with HIV and AIDS. Their effort, and the effort of the Drumheller community are making a difference. Terra Charmont graciously shared how the library came to be and over the next two weeks inside Drumheller would like to share it with the community.
“What’s the problem in creating a beautiful children’s library in a place where children have rarely seen a book? It’s keeping the kids OUT of it! They sneak in there before school, at recess and just on their way to the bathroom. The grade ones sneak books into their backpacks as they don’t quite get the difference between borrowing and having, they LOVE it! “ Valerie Nelson – Roatan, Honduras.
Thanks to the caring of so many people, Roatan, Honduras has a brand new library for children to enjoy. It wasn’t always this way. School and literacy is an unaffordable luxury here, less than 20 per cent of kids ever get a chance to attend school. When they do attend, there are few resources. A year ago the school had only three books and no learning resources. Teachers often have limited education and with no textbooks or reading materials kids cannot learn. This is the story that changed everything.
Chris and his son, John Charmont were killed in an explosion in Mexico in November 2010. John had just turned 9. He was a bright, happy little boy loved to play and make people laugh. He was also kind. Instead of gifts for his birthday, he asked for donations to the Morgan Jayne Project to help with their Christmas Miracle. (Morgan Jayne Project works with Familias Saludables to stop mother to child HIV transmission and supports families with the disease.)
When he passed, his family wanted to continue his annual legacy. His mom, Terra, spoke to Fred Makowecki from the Morgan Jayne Project and created “Johnny’s Fund,” an initiative funded annually by family, friends and a Cenovus’ employee match program. Initially it was used to build a school playground and provide humanitarian aid. Then the family learned of the education crisis and decided a library was needed. Organizations like Room to Read were unable to help as the library would need to be public. In this area it would pose too much risk to the kids, who are currently protected behind barbed wire fences due to risk of kidnapping and being sold on the black market. “We had no idea where to start,” Terra says, “but my daughter Megan simply shrugged and said Dad and Johnny will help you. And I knew we had to try.”
Terra let people know about the project through facebook and local media. Thousands of books, curriculum and textbooks poured in from friends, family and schools. Kids sold freezies and held fundraisers to raise money for shipping. A friend nominated the Charmont family in the Urban Mortgage contest, providing another $1,000 towards the project. People from around the world were inspired and jumped on board. There were many long nights in the garage sorting books.
“My family and friends were a huge help getting the books ready. But we still had no idea how to pay to ship thousands of pounds. Hyde Shipping in Florida offered to barge them to Roatan free, we just had to get them there. After several failed attempts to find a more cost effective way than mail, I contacted the VP of Westjet to see if we could use their leftover cargo room. They were unable to take cargo but were inspired by the project and paid to courier the entire first load. We stayed up all night getting the waybills on and filing customs reports. Then they told us the courier wouldn’t pick up in Drumheller after all. We were all tired and had no idea how to move thousands of pounds to the airport! But Westjet sent a moving van and filled it. We were delayed a few days, so it worked out that the books left on John’s birthday. That was special and they arrived in Roatan on the one year memorial of the accident.”
On the island there was a buzz of excitement as the kids and staff realized this was going to happen. They worked hard to make a special spot for Johnny’s Library, complete with a Kinder Corner, reading center and teacher resource area. Beautiful, bright murals were painted by a local named Anthony who works with the project. The main mural shows Canada and Roatan with a bridge between, showing the bridge between our worlds is the ability to read. Bright parrots and monkeys line the walls. Shelving and furniture was trickier. It’s illegal to chop down a tree, even in your own yard, and wood is expensive. Shelves were made from cement molds from a nearby building. “Every board had to be sanded by hand to remove remaining cement and varnished with several coats to prevent termites”, Val explains. “The table and chairs are made from giant trees in Guatemala, made and brought here by a woman from Quebec. It takes a village to build a library!
“An air conditioner was required to keep the books from deteriorating in the humid climate. “It was a huge eye opener for me”, says Terra. “All the little things you don’t even think of… but everything came together with so many people working at it.” Now the school has a library to be proud of and the kids are thrilled. We sent only the best quality. These kids have a chance to learn and grow in a whole new way. The reading materials are bright, fun and modern. And the learning resources? “Wish I had a lot of this stuff when I was teaching, this is incredible. Resources that Canadian teachers would be jealous of!” says John’s grandma Heather, who worked as a special needs educational assistant and has dedicated her own garage as a workshop for the library.”
The library Grand Opening was on May 11 at Luisa Trundle School. The ribbon cutting was done by Fred Makowecki, founder of the Morgan Jayne Project, on his daughter Morgan’s birthday. The kids wrote and acted out a play of how Johnny’s Library came about, made presentations, sang and the local band played. They served John’s favorite lunch, pizza. Another donor group, Amigos of Honduras, gave all the kids school supplies and a book to take home, for most of them it is the first one they’ll own.
“It was an amazing day. The library is beautiful and the children are so grateful”, Fred wrote in a note home. Last week children in the school were asked, “What are the three most beautiful places in Roatan?” Ishmael’s hand shot up.. “Tabiana Beach, Parrot Tree Plantation and Johnny’s Library!” Thank you to everyone who helped make this dream a reality.
If you would like to help with this ongoing project please call Terra at 1.403.823.8676 or firstname.lastname@example.org