If you take a moment to chat with our teaching or operational staff about their educational journey, you may find some similarities: things like overcrowded classrooms, various ages and a small library of learning materials. At TJS, we’re combating many of these challenges, among others, but . . . what about how they got there? How did they get to school each and every day?
When chatting with our Director of Operations, Jean Bildad Michel, he shared how he walked to school, sometimes all the way to Bon Repos, ten miles from his village of Minotrie. Yes, he walked up hill both ways! His parents simply could not afford transportation.
A Gentlemen Willing to Help
Enter Smith Guerrier. Mr. Guerrier drove a tap tap as his business venture, the Haitian mode of public transportation. Most days, Mr. Guerrier would pass a young Bildad trekking to class. Knowing Bildad did not have the financial ability to pay, Smith would stop his vehicle and allow him to ride for free. Each time, Bildad would thank him with promises to repay him one day.
Haitians often refer to their nation as a “relational country.” Such an allegiance is exactly what they mean. When the Joseph School was blessed with a school, Bildad went looking for Smith. He discovered that Smith was still driving in Haiti, with a wealth of experience and a great safety record. Due to his past Samaritan spirit, he was favored for the position, but was also the most qualified for the job. The Board of TJS did not hesitate. In 2015, Smith was the fifth person hired to the team.
When TJS first began, Smith would make multiple trips back and forth with his Tap Tap. Thankfully, TJS was blessed with its first school bus in 2018. Smith is our full time bus driver for our students as well as the guests who frequent on mission or vision trips.
More than a Driver
Smith and his wife have four children together, and one of his children also attends the Joseph School. He’s highly respected in the community, always on time, takes pride in his work, and is willing to help. When our security guard, Fritznel, was diagnosed, and later died, of lymph node cancer, Smith volunteered to drive him wherever he needed to go at no cost.
He’s very intelligent, yet humble. On one recent trip with a team of guests from Tennessee, the bus broke down one hour from Cabaret. Smith tended to the bus while reassuring the team everything was going to be okay. After hours of maintenance, they were back on the road. With a shiny disposition, Smith laughed and joked the whole way home. In total, it took seven hours to return safely to Cabaret, but Smith drove the team without complaint. He loves what he does, and we love him.