On April 19, Vielda, who has taught 3rd kindergarten at GES for four years, calmly helped the littlest students escape to safety from attacking gangs.
Andris, the director of Grace Emmanuel School, praised her actions that day as “extraordinary.”
We asked Vielda to share more about herself, the day of the attack, and her faith.
1. Why did you want to become a teacher?
I have felt the calling to teach since I was kid. Actually, there were two things I wanted to study: nursing and kindergarten. I went to nursing school for 3 years, and also have a teaching degree which I am using right now. I have always had a love for teaching kids.
2. How did you feel when school resumed in January?
It felt good to finally go back to work and be with the kids to teach. Even though I was still getting paid when we weren’t in session, seeing them and being with them made a huge difference.
3. Can you describe what you experienced on April 19?
It was a tragic day. I was at the school teaching when all of a sudden we heard the gunfire. First I thought the shooting was in Titanyen, but when I saw people running in and out, I was troubled and panicked. I assembled all the kindergarten sections and gathered all the kids together, and we went under the drainage grate and headed to Cabaret. Along the way parents came and took their children. I had them two by two holding hands as we walked all the way to Cabaret. Finally one of the parents stayed with me to help. By the time we arrived in Cabaret, I had only 3 kids with me. I waited for their parents and then contacted my family.
4. Where was your family on that day? How has your family been affected by the gang violence in Source Matelas?
When I called my husband, he said that all of them were inside the house, and the gangs were shooting close to where they were. They waited until the afternoon and escaped. They had to go through the cement factory, then by the ocean, walking miles in the mud and bushes before they got to Cabaret.
We are now living in Arcahaie. We haven’t thought of any plan other than just staying here. We don’t have money to rent a house elsewhere, and the person we are staying with is good toward us and would not want us to leave his place. He even offered for us to stay here until January. The owner of the house is a good friend of my husband’s best friend.
We moved with nothing, no clothes, no money, nothing, just like most people.
5. How are you filling your days right now?
I don’t do much. I spend the day teaching my daughter. Teaching her numbers, counting, etc. Besides that, I stay in the house.
6. How does your faith in Christ give you hope?
When all of this started, I was really distressed and troubled but I haven’t lost faith. We are living in a broken world and troubles happen. Where we are living, there is a church nearby and we have the opportunity to go to church and that relieves us. We hope that everything is going to be back to normal.
7. Are there any songs or verses that are encouraging you the most right now?
Yes, there is that song that is constantly in my mind and on my lips. It says, “When problems come to destroy me, sadness discourages me, and all doors are closed. There is no way to go to. But when I call Jesus for help, He hears me, and helps me. There is no mountain that Jesus isn’t able to move.”
As for verses, I read Exodus 14 and Psalms.
8. How have you seen God’s faithfulness in your life?
He protected my family and made a way for them to flee Source Matelas that day. He provided a place for us to stay with no charge and provides support for us. He is faithful.
9. If you had the means to do anything or go anywhere right now, what would you do?
I would probably leave the country for a better life with my family because of the current situation. Besides that, we are here waiting for when kindergarten will be reopened.
10. How can we pray for you?
Pray for change for my country. Pray for our health, so we can keep our focus on the Lord no matter what.