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Monday, March 23, 2015

PT/OT school launches in Haiti

The Episcopal University of Haiti plans to open a 4 year program for physical therapy and occupational therapy very soon. This work is the culmination of years of planning between Janet O'Flynn, an OT from the US and partners in Haiti including the Episcopal Church. Since the earthquake of 2010, more handicapped persons are struggling to live with missing limbs or other crippling injuries. The need for Haitian trained therapists is obvious. A key sponsor of the school's development is a Nobel prize winning economist. Check out the video!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Update from Diocese of Haiti Partnership Program

Brothers and Sisters,

I hope you are well in the name of God. We have several announcements for you. Soon you will be able to access this and other information on Facebook through the pages mentioned below.

Ecclesia, the official newsletter of the Diocese of the Episcopal Church in Haiti will be published quarterly to keep our partners and friends updated on activities in the diocese. New and past newsletters can be accessed on the Ecclesia Facebook page at We will also soon have a Partnership Program Facebook page in order to facilitate open communication between you, our partners, and the diocese.

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the death of Sister Marie Margaret and Reverand Fernande Pierre Louis. Sister Marie Margaret of the Society of Saint Margaret, and former Director of the Partnership Program, passed away in Boston January 20. Her funeral was held February 7. Reverend Fernande Pierre Louis was the Director of Holy Trinity School and an assistant at the Cathedral. She passed away December 15 and her funeral was held December 20. Please pray for their families and those who mourn their death, as well as the repose of souls.

The Episcopal diocese of Haiti has begun a project to establish a new diocese in the north region of Haiti. The diocese of Haiti is growing, a second diocese in the north region of Haiti will allow more leadership, support, and attention to inspire continued growth of the church in Haiti.

The Episcopal diocese of Haiti will have a delegation of fifteen people, lay and clergy, who will be attending general convention this summer at Salt Lake city, Utah.

One of the prestigious institutions of the Episcopal church of Haiti, FSIL (Faculté des Sciences Infirmiere de Leogane), a department of the the UNEPH ( Université Episcopale d’Haiti) celebrated its tenth anniversary in January. Next year, Bishop Tharp Institute will celebrate its tenth anniversary in April.

We will soon be announcing new guesthouses to welcome our guests. Some are already built and some are under construction. In the south, Nippes and Grande Anse. Torbeck, Bondeau, Petit Trou Nippes and Jeannette are ready to welcome guests. Les Cayes will be ready soon with 12 double rooms with a capacity 24 people with air conditioning, hot water, and private toilet. The guesthouses are very secure. Construction on a guesthouses will soon begin in Cap-Haitien and St Martin of Tours in Port au Prince and three are already completed in Leogane and surrounding areas. Many others will be built in the diocese to allow for the comfort and security of our guests.

The next Haiti Connection Conference will be held in Haiti in October 2015. The date and all necessary information will be announced soon.

Thank you always for your support! May God continue to bless you.

Rev. Dr. Kesner Ajax
Partnership Coordinator, 
Episcopal Diocese of Haiti

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Fresh Look at Port-au-Prince from Travel and Leisure

Travel and Leisure wrote up a nice piece on the new Marriott in Port-au-Prince. It's a refreshing look at the beauty of Haiti and possibilities for renewal of the city.

Friday, January 23, 2015

RIP, Sister Marie Margaret

It is with deep sorrow that we deliver the sad news that Sister Marie Margaret has died. She served as Sister-in-Charge of St. Margaret's Convent, Haiti for many years, the convent attached to Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince. Her community embroidered beautiful altar linens including the altar cloth now in use at St. Mary's Cathedral in Memphis, TN. You can read the full announcement from the Sisters of St. Margaret or watch the memorial slides.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church on the fifth anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti

On the fifth anniversary of the earthquake Haiti suffered on 12 January 2010

Haiti and her people are survivors – of colonial occupation and a slave economy, of wars, rebellions, and invasions, a long history of corrupt and ineffective government, and when things seemed at their nadir, even of imported disease. Through all the trials and tribulations the world can wield, Haiti continues to respond with creative resilience. The contrast between conditions shortly after the earthshaking of 2010 and today is remarkable – tent cities have largely disappeared, housing stocks are increasing, roads have been repaired and re-laid, and significant new commercial development is evident in Port-au-Prince and other urban centers. Schools are full and busy, even if there are not yet enough seats for all who should be there. Young adults are being trained for employment in tourism, construction, agriculture, health care, and emerging technical fields. Artists are busy creating new works and styles. The contrast is enormous – and today’s reality far exceeds the conditions prevalent before the earthquake. The solidarity and support of the world has made a major difference. Haiti can and should emerge from its status as the least developed nation in the hemisphere, if the world will keep its pledge and stay the course.

The Episcopal Church in Haiti continues to play a major and essential role in this renaissance. The cathedral church in Port-au-Prince was long seen as the spiritual and cultural soul of Haiti. Today, its bells are quiet (in storage), its world-renowned murals largely destroyed (three have been preserved for reuse), and its naked altar platform awaits the cathedral’s rebuilding. The cathedral grounds are lively, with primary and secondary school now serving more children than before, a music school that continues to train internationally renowned choirs and instrumentalists, and a trade school that is rising from the spot where bodies lay for days in the ruins of its former collapse.

The art museum begun many years ago by the diocese is nearby, and houses numerous treasures that exceed display capacity. The nursing school in Léogâne is graduating growing numbers of nurses trained as community health providers. St. Vincent’s school for handicapped children is on the cusp of a major rebuilding effort. The University and trade schools are growing and thriving. The bishops, clergy, and lay leaders continue to provide much-needed direction within Haitian society. In every part of Haiti, The Episcopal Church is healing, teaching, instilling hope, and pointing the way toward the kingdom of God, on earth as it is in heaven.

Resurrection and hope abound, and not in Haiti alone. That continued hope and movement toward the reign of God are the result of the co-creative partnership of people and nations. Active engagement in one part of the world affects other parts of God’s body, as any community that has sent missionaries, received them, or helped dreams to develop knows well. Transformation by partnership goes in all directions, and it makes more of itself in the process!

This anniversary brings abundant opportunity for thanksgiving. May we be moved to respond in concrete and particular acts of gratitude, and may it redound to the glory of God.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Friday, December 19, 2014

Presiding Bishop Historic Visit to Haiti

Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori traveled to Haiti this week. Read the full article of what see saw and did, along with pictures of Petionville and Northern Haiti. We hope she saw a bit of what we know and love about the people of Haiti.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Aint no use to sit and wonder why, Babe

Thanksgiving Day in Memphis.  Cleaning up the house so we can have a big group for dinner. All my closest friends in the world; all have shared the Haiti experience with me either by going on a trip or taking care of those who do, raising money for the school, spreading the word about our ministry.

As I clean up, I realize that Haiti has infiltrated every room in my house. Scattered items include the still cluttered suitcase on my kitchen floor:
empty water bottle (THAT goes into the dishwasher to be boiled clean)
bug repellent wipes used and unused
Package from Sister Mary Margaret she sent home with me to mail for her (no reliable postal service in Haiti)
Letter from Madame Marc Leon to mail to her friend Solange in Connecticut
Thank you notes from Dieumene and Marilene to Jennifer, for the care packages she sent to them in my suitcase. You see the Haiti US delivery service via suitcase works in both directions.
Crumpled and soiled Sunday bulletin from Holy Trinity Cathedral
Broken piece of tile found in Holy Trinity's courtyard
Hammered tin crosses
Otoscope parts, pregnancy test kits, urinalysis strips and hemocue cuvettes.  A few tongue depressors (throw those out!)
Scraps of paper with email addresses of new friends in Haiti

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Parting memories of our trip

So much happens over the course of one week on these mission trips. Difficult to capture all of it; partly due to my fatigue at the end of the day. Fatigue which builds as the week goes on. Working in the heat saps our energy, as well as carrying all the responsibilities of each day. Did we give the Braille maps to the blind classes teacher yet? No, they are still at the guest house. Did anyone see my water bottle?  Who has the lidocaine?  Does anyone know if we brought any 3 cc syringes?  Where is that extra hand sanitizer you brought? Did you see my black bag in the clinic? I think John has my glasses.  No you gave them to Claire.  Remember there are 4 kids who need Amoxicillin tomorrow.  Remember to give Madame JoAnn a glucometer and the rest of the glucose strips. If we have any extra suitcases left, I promised to give one to JoJo   Let's give the rest of the snacks and granola bars to Alphonse....and on and on it goes. 

Claire is surprised that she so quickly became an integral part of our team. Her music brought joy to the kids during the day and to the team relaxing at the guest house in the evenings. Hearing Dieumene sing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah is now one of my all time favorite Haiti memories.  

Sherye worked with many of the teachers on lesson plans and @@@@@@@@@@@@@@
She has been planning this for months and was worried about how she would be received; would she connect with the teachers? Would they be interested in what she had to say?  She came out of those sessions practically singing about her experience; how great everyone was and how they exceeded her expectations.

Before leaving the guesthouse today for the airport we got to visit with Pere Sadoni briefly. Phillip explained his plans for continuing dental care for the children, with the assistance of Dr Samuel Prophete who is Dean of the dental school in PortauPrince. We gave him an envelope stuffed with money collected from all of us. None of the team is returning home with more than $20 in their pockets!  Pere Sadoni said a final prayer to bless our group as we departed. 

As I sit on the plane now, watching  mountains beyond mountains fall away below me, Brittany tells me about getting bitten by mosquitoes while waiting at the airport. She wished out loud that she hadn't packed her bug spray, and Vickie handed her a bug spray wipe.  Mama Vickie. Such a gift to our team. Before she started coming with us 3 trips ago, we were always losing things. Never had our medical cards organized properly. Always needing a paper towel or hand sanitizer, a ziplock bag or something to eat. Now we just ask Mama Vickie and like magic she produces what we need. The Brittany story continues with Brittany pulling her boarding pass out of her pocket to board the plane, and after standing in line a few minutes realizing the mosquito repellent on her hands has managed to wipe off all the numbers on her ticket. She does not know which seat or have proof of which flight she is on. Fortunately her second boarding pass for her connecting flight is undamaged and can be scanned, so she is allowed to board the plane after all.  

We are all more than ready to be home and see our families and loved ones. But we have left behind more than granola bars and vitamins, glucometers and Braille maps. Anyone who comes to St Vincents knows this. So be gentle with us, those of you who have missed us for a week. We may be a little withdrawn, slightly intolerant of the mad shopping culture that fills America in this holiday season.  We carry something with us that we may not be able to explain in words. Not to mention the fact that when we arrive at the airport we will not smell very good! A peculiar mix of sweat, Haiti dust, sunscreen and bug spray.  See you soon!

Susan Nelson