Pinewood Preparatory School parent Jesse Gauthier said it’s very painful to see her native Haiti after the devastation caused by the 2010 earthquake. But instead of turning a blind eye, she and her family have enlisted others to help.

When Gauthier’s son, Alec, was in the first grade, he wrote a poem about a soccer ball. She knew children in Haiti love soccer, so she figured the poem could be turned into a book. Last semester, she told Alec’s fifth-grade teacher, Elizabeth Kaufmann, about the idea, and Kaufmann thought it would be great to get the entire class involved.

The students worked on the books for two months, and Gauthier delivered them last week in Haiti.

Gauthier said she decided to have the books in English, French and Haitian Creole to help the students practice their French. She said it is difficult for students to learn in school because Haitian Creole is their primary language, but their books are in French.

“Learning in French makes it very difficult. They’re learning in a language they don’t understand. It makes it so hard,” she said.

Gauthier still has uncles and cousins in Haiti. She said she visited the country for the first time post-earthquake last year.

“Last year was a big shock for me. This is where I used to live and I didn’t recognize it because it was under rubble. Emotionally, it was hard for me to see that,” she said.

Gauthier said she has seen little progress since she visited last year. But she said even though volunteers and missionaries may not see changes now, their work still is important.

“The difference we can make in just one life is a huge impact,” she said.

However there is one change Gauthier said she was excited to see. Construction on the Bodaire School, where she donated the class’ books, is about two-thirds complete. And that’s not the only thing she said the organization wants to build.

“We want to build character so that we can empower the children to help their community,” she said.

Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560 or