Google+ WTN Haiti Partnership: 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

O Holy Night

I HESITATE TO WRITE ABOUT THIS. But something stronger than me pushes the words out. Music speaks to me, and as we drove to St. Vincents, I heard " O, Holy Night ' AND REALLY LISTENED TO THE WORDS. " Long lay the world in sin and error pining…" If ever the world was in sin and error pining, I was in the midst of it. A bleeding , suffering world, one full of destruction and pain, with no real end in sight. This was the real world..the world God sent himself into in the form of Jesus to save. This was no dress rehearsal..this was the real, now, close, heavy and so in need of love and redemption. This seems like a philosophical thought as I rode slowly down to the ones He came to save, to the chosen children, to our precious children of St. Vincents. But all the rest of the people. Those walking, almost running to find work or food or someone who cared. They too were the ones He came to save. And all this filled my head as this beautiful song came from the radio. Why now? Why think about this? In Haiti, of all places. I must be losing it. Yet, I felt more like I was really getting it than losing it. There, bouncing in and out of pot holes large enough to do serious damage. And so I let it fill me. " Le Redempteur". & "Voici, le Redempteur."Advent has never been more meaningful. May your Advent and His coming be real to you and those you love.
Sent in by Diane Reddoch

John and Tim in Haiti

For more photos from the November trip, click here.

More Photos from our November Trip

For more photos from the November trip, click here.

Photos from November Trip

For more photos from the November trip, click here.

Message from Rev Kesner Ajax

Date:December 20, 2010
Subject: Haiti
Dearest friends and partners of the Diocese of Haiti
2010 has been one of the darkest years in Haiti's history. The earthquake,
Hurricane Tomas, the cholera epidemic and political unrest have shocked the
Haitian people. Their hope for a better tomorrow has been weakened. However,
their determination to fight will allow them to overcome any obstacle presented.

On behalf of the Diocese of Haiti, and the Partnership Program I would like to
Thank you for your immeasurable support. 2010 has also been a year of great
friendship and partnership, and because of this it has been a year of promise
for Haiti.
Haiti, of course is not the only country in the world with problems. And yet,
the passion and investment you all have shown for Haiti reveals that, God has
not forgotten the people of Haiti and that he will indeed support each of us
through his trials.
On behalf of the Diocese of Haiti, and the Partnership Program, I wish a Happy
New Year to all of you – our very special friends and partners! Let this be a
fruitful New Year of peace, love, prosperity, and collaboration!
Love and Thanks during this Holy Holiday season!

Très Chers amis et partenaires du diocèse d'Haïti,
L'année 2010 aura été l'une  des plus sombres pour le pays : tremblement de
terre, cyclone, cholera et troubles politiques ont traumatisé le peuple haïtien
jusqu'à vraiment affaiblir son espoir en des lendemains meilleurs. Cependant,
son acharnement à lutter et à combattre va lui permettre de triompher de tout obstacle.

Au nom du diocèse d'Haïti, la coordination du programme de partenariat vous
remercie de votre support impossible à mesurer. L'année 2010 a été aussi une
année consacrée à l'amitié, au partenariat, donc c'était une année d'ouverture
sur Haïti.

Et pourtant, on n'est pas le seul pays dans le monde qui a des difficultés.
Cela nous montre qu' à  travers vos œuvres de bienfaisance, Dieu n'a pas oublié
le peuple haïtien et qu'il le supporte à travers ses épreuves.

The Rev. Kesner Ajax
Executive Director, Bishop Tharp Institute
Partnership program coordinator, Episcopal Diocese of Haiti

Mailing address:
c/o Agape Flights acc# 2519
100 Airport Ave
Venice, FL 34285
Tels. 011-509-3445-3346

St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral - Memphis - Sermon by Rev. Drew Woodruff - Dec. 12, 2010, 8 AM service

Follow this link to a sermon by Drew Woodruff at St Marys Cathedral in Memphis on December 12, 2010 at 8 AM service. He preaches about Advent and being in Haiti.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

In Memoriam

On our recent trip to St Vincent's we learned one of the children had died this summer. Her name was Yolande Jean Baptiste.
Apparently she had pneumonia and went to the hospital, but was very sick and did not recover. We were shocked and saddened by this news. I guess we all thought that after the earthquake, nothing else bad could happen to our children. We also had the selfish feeling that someone should have told us about it, that somehow we have a special relationship with those children and we deserve to know when one of them is sick or goes to the hospital. We Americans really don't understand how sickness and death are part of everyday life in Haiti. Although our hearts and minds are at St Vincent's every day, reality means we are only with them 2 weeks out of every year.
Yolande is in many of our photos with her big smile and pretty hair bows. I remember she could not speak but always greeted us with a friendly smile and bright eyes. She was there in Montrouis with the children who were evacuated from the school after the earthquake. Drew sat with her under a tree by the ocean, playing with the "Four Musketeers"' Yolande, Yolende, Auguste and Diana. These four children are crippled and confined to a wheelchair. None of them can speak. Auguste is blind and deaf. Yet they love attention and Drew has spent endless hours playing with them, hugging them and holding them in his lap. These children are always together; one of my memories from our April trip is seeing them sleeping together on the floor of a tent, guarded by Madame Merita who is their faithful caregiver.
This trip when Drew went to check on them, shortly after our arrival, there was someone missing. Now there are "Three Musketeers".
I wondered to myself if something could have been done to save this child. I have treated several children for pneumonia on previous trips, including baby Diana who was so sick the first time we met her she couldn't hold her head up off the pillow. Lifesaving antibiotics did their magic, and now Diana is growing up so we have to stop calling her baby Diana.
Always there will be this question of what else could be done to help these children. Even in America, children die from pneumonia, but somehow that doesn't make me feel any better.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Haiti memories from Diane Reddoch

On a warm December afternoon, I had the privilege to know what it feels like to be part of " Dancing with the Stars ".
Precious Dieumene asked me if I could dance, I said sure and she then asked me to teach her a dance. I first did a little of the Charleston, but quickly decided that was not the dance for us. I chose the waltz, and as I placed my hands on her shoulder I began to count, " One, two,three,one,two,three". She picked it up quickly and soon I was humming the Blue Danube waltz! We even tried a twirl!!. Her sense of rhythm and eagerness to dance made this a joy. There we were, following one another's lead, and having a wonderful time. We used the parts God gave each of us, and we became one. I'll always cherish this opportunity, especially since I didn't get to know her well the year before.
Another special memory was playing "bat the balloon" with Samuel. We tapped this half filled balloon all over the room and laughed out loud at the sudden moves of the other person. It was like tennis/badmitton/volleyball all rolled into one. After a long time, I noticed Yolene smiling and indicating that she wanted something. I tried several things unsuccessfully and then finally sat down next to her and place a small plastic toy in her hand. Her eyes lit up! She let it slip through her fingers onto the bed. I picked it up, placed it in her hands and she repeated the drop. She and I were doing what I had done with Samuel, only tailor-made for her, She loved it! As we played, I saw her happiness blossom and my heart overflowed with joy. We were sharing something just between us. Her smile said it all. I'm so glad I didn't miss this chance to be fully engaged with her. Miracles like that don't come along very often! I was in the right place at the right time and hold this memory close to my heart.
sent in by Diane Reddoch

Monday, December 13, 2010


One of the important things we do in our medical clinic is check hemoglobins (iron counts) on many of the patients. We try to check all the adults and any kid who is sick with fever or who looks undernourished This means just about everybody. The unfortunate soul who gets to stick everybody's finger is John Mutin. For such a nice man and big teddy bear who loves kids, it doesn't seem fair.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Sherye was a big hit with the deaf kids and staff. I realized as I watched her that I don't think many visitors to St Vincents can sign to the deaf. Imagine how isolating that is. It was clear that the deaf students, especially the teenagers, were thrilled to be able to communicate. Sherye was a little overwhelmed, I believe, with all the attention at first. Also the rush of clinic can be confusing, with translators trying to be everywhere at once, patients crowding the door, children running everywhere and multiple languages spoken (and signed!) I tend to get into my "zone" I call it. Focusing on the patient in front of me. Trying to use my Kreyol. Kisa m'kapab fe pou ou? What can I do for you? Depi kile ou gen pwoblem? How long have you had this problem? Gen tous? do you have cough? And so on. I find that the question of when or how long seems to be irrelevant to most Haitians. Even with a good translator, I can't get people to tell me how many days or weeks they have had a sore throat or rash. They just repeat the complaint. Do you have cough? Yes. How long? I have cough. Yes, but how many days? You know, cough. Sherye and I got tickled after she kept asking the deaf patients these questions. She would look at me after several attempts and say, He has a cough! Yeah, I got that part...
So while I'm in my zone, I don't pay much attention to what goes on outside the door. John Mutin, bless him, comes by frequently to remind me to drink water and to refill my water bottle. On our second day in clinic, Sherye had discovered the power of using one of the teenage girls to help her. No one can organize and boss people around like a teenage girl. Sherye enlisted the help of Blenda, a deaf girl who attached herself to Sherye very quickly. Sherye explained to Blenda that we needed patients to line up in order; each patient is given an index card with a number to make this easier and try to reduce the amount of "cutting in line". Blenda went right to work in the crowd and soon had everyone seated, in order, waiting their turn.
Sherye was so impressed with Blenda that she kept bragging about her all day. John, however, kept asking if we could get someone else to help with bringing patients into the clinic. Finally we got Sherye and John together to sort out the problem. John explained that when he stuck Blenda's finger for the hemoglobin test, she hollered like she was dying! Thereafter she told every kid, in the dramatic sign language she is so good at, how much that test was going to hurt! John would greet a small child with his big friendly grin, and the child would erupt into screams! Before he even touched their finger with an alcohol swab, they were terrified. After we all got a good laugh, Sherye assured John she would take care of it. Apparently Blenda got the message, because after that John's patients were a lot more cooperative.
The next day John told me all the deaf kids came up to him and held their index finger out.
Susan Nelson

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bits and Pieces from our week in Haiti

Every mission team has it's own particular personality. This trip I was delighted to have along one of my best friends in the world, Sherye Fairbanks. Sherye is fluent in American Sign Language, and was an instant celebrity with the deaf kids and staff at St Vincents. I don't think she believed me all these years when I told her how much good she could do at the school.
Sherye also has the ability to see humor in almost anything, and she kept us laughing all week. At the end of our trip, she helped me make a list of some funny sayings that commemorate our experience. Some of these may not make sense to anyone outside the mission team, but I offer them here for the team members as a humorous remembrance of our week together in Haiti.

Flushing the toilet in Haiti is an act of faith.

There are 3 trash cans in Haiti.

Have you met our friend in the sink?

Laughing Geckos.

In a Haitian restaurant we greet the owner, "Hello!" He responds, "Shalom!"
In this same restaurant we try to order off the Kreyol menu, with Jean Robert's help. He explains one menu item this way: "You know, when you cook your goat with bananas...and then you add piclise (hot Haitian relish)". We decided to have the chicken and rice. (Of course despite our earnest efforts to order off the menu, we were all served the same thing anyway).

Amazing things said by Bev, our guest house manager, include: "Back when I got my pilot's license...". and "Back when I was searching for babies in abandoned ravines..."

Working with Sherye in the clinic one day, I commented on one of the children I recognized, who was wearing a name tag that said "Samuel", I said "I could have sworn this kid's name used to be Peter" . IT WAS. I never have been able to figure out Haitian names!

After talking to a kid for 5 minutes in her earnest Kreyol, Sienna is told by JoJo, "He is deaf!"

Blind kids put their hands on Tim's stomach and exclaim, "Teem!"

Kiesha, our pharmacist, says to Tim, her assistant, in the chaotic rush of trying to fill prescriptions, "Hold on, I'm trying not to kill anybody!"

Kiesha was known for her calm demeanor and serene expression throughout the week. At the end of a 2hour ride in the back of a pick up truck over Port au Prince pothole crazy roads, she gets up and pulls out a rolled towel from underneath her. "Kiesha, you're brilliant!" everyone exclaims. 10 people riding for 3 days couldn't figure that out.

Also in the back of the truck, we have frequent visitors asking for money or food. "Pa gen lajan" or "Pa gen manje" says Sienna, about 50 times. "Pa gen lanje" says Tim. (there is no such Kreyol word). Then when the crowd starts to disperse and leave us alone, Tim tries English. " We're not traveling in the back of this truck because we have MONEY!" Of course the only word they understand is MONEY so they all crowd around the truck again. This makes for very long rides in heavy traffic.

The kids name for John Mutin is "gwo gason". (big boy)

Kiesha had a LARGE bag she carried back and forth with her every day. One day she said "You all make fun of me because of my bag, but everyone asks me to put stuff in it"

Another Kiesha story. There was a local bar some of us would go to in the evenings after dinner. it was basically a small store which sold beer and juice and set up chairs outside for its customers, since the store itself was about 10 by 10 feet. It also had a boom box playing ?Haitian ?Dominican music at jet engine decibels. Our first night there, when I mentioned I thought it was time to go, Kiesha who had not said more than 2 words all day responded "OH THANK GOD"

And the last memory which will truly be understood only by team members:
"I too was attacked by two men with machetes, when I was in Tanzania"
Susan Nelson

The Rooster and the Dogs

Sleeping in Haiti is always a challenge for me and many of the team members. The usual travel worries compounded by the excitement of being in Haiti makes it difficult to relax. This trip we were blessedly cooler than in April, with backup generators to power the fans all night. However the roosters in Haiti crow all night. I suppose roosters everywhere crow all night, but I am a city girl and I stupidly believed roasters crow only at dawn. In Montrouis last April the roosters were particularly annoying! But 2 tablets of benadryl and some good ear plugs can block out the crowing pretty well. (Things One Learns to Survive in Haiti).
Not so the dogs. Apparently the "rich, quiet neighborhood" of Village Theodat has it's share of dogs as pets. These are unheard of in most of Haiti. The dogs we have seen before have been cowering, stringy animals who eat out of garbage piles in the street and couldn't manage a loud whimper, let alone a good bark. Chris and Bev have 2 large bull mastiff dogs, whom Sienna called horses, and who became friends with the visitors quickly. Their neighbors also have dogs, and apparently nighttime is their social time. Chris and Bev swore to me it was not their dogs barking, but the other dogs across the street. They bark, says Beverly, at other dogs, at cars going by, at lizards, you name it. Through our bedroom window we heard them, incessantly. Makes a dog lover like me remember a line from the play about Tuna Texas, where Aunt Pearl makes dog treats with her "little strychnine pills" to poison dogs who get into her garden.
Speaking of sleep in Haiti, Bill Squire told me a nice story about being in Haiti 2 days after the earthquake. He somehow used his Episcopal church connections through the Dominican Republic to get transport to the soccer field in Port au Prince where the St Vincent's kids and 3000 other people had evacuated, along with Bishop Duracin. As they were trying to rest that night in their tent, they could hear folks singing hymns all around them until about midnight. Bill told his friend, a dominican priest, that the hymns would start up again about 4 AM. His friend didn't believe him. Sure enough. Bill has always told me that Haitians don't need as much sleep as the rest of the world. I guess they have more time for praising God in difficult circumstances. So when I remember that story and I can't sleep in Haiti, I try to thank God that I am alive and blessed enough to be able to share a little of their lives with these wonderful people.

The Luxury of Towels

This trip we stayed at a guest house run by Chris and Bev Plourde with Heartline Ministries. Our team is used to staying at St Vincents school with the kids, but the guest quarters were destroyed in the earthquake. We found out about Heartline Ministries through Amy Chanin who worked with them in April 2010. Apparently the guest house is in the former residence of one of the Haitian government ministers who fled the country after the earthquake. It is located In Village Theodat, and appears to be in a rich neighborhood by Haitian standards, (see earlier post).
The house has several large bedrooms which have been converted by putting bunk beds in each one. There are MULTIPLE bathrooms, as opposed to the St Vincents quarters. They had 3 bathrooms but usually only one worked at any given time, which can mean 13 people using one bathroom!
The first indication I had that we had made an UPGRADE in our living accommodations was the piles of clean towels on the counter in every bathroom. I had told everyone to bring an extra bath towel, because I remember using one towel all week last trip and by the end of a sweaty week in Port au Prince, things were getting desperate. Not only were there clean towels at our new guest house; they were washed and replaced daily. Oh my goodness.
The second realization that we were in high cotton was when Chris came into our bedroom as we were getting ready for bed, bringing extra fans. He told me he wanted to make sure each bed had it's OWN FAN. Now those of you who went to Montrouis with us in April remember sleeping in a room with 5 people and one fan, which turned off at midnight when the generator turned off. I just couldn't believe the blessing. Jill Bullard and I agreed we were in the Haiti Hilton. They even have laundry service for $5 per week. Of course my friend Sherye aptly pointed out that one of the things you give up in Haiti is your personal privacy. When you pick up your clean laundry in the morning you must sort through ALL the clean laundry to find yours. Boxers size 36, anyone?

Susan Nelson


Coming back to my American life after a trip to Haiti is always difficult. It has been a week now since we landed in Memphis and had to put on warm winter coats, shocked at the temperature change. My daughter walked around the first few days wrapped in a blanket complaining, "it's cold in this country!"
Returning to work, I would manage to finish the day, come home and fall asleep in my food at the dinner table. I wanted to post my photos, write stories for the blog, tell everyone about our experience. But sleeping from 8 pm til 6 am cuts out a lot of free time!
Finally Saturday morning I awoke feeling a little more energy. Managed to have a conference call with some very nice folks from Red Thread Promise (check them out on the web) who want to help rebuild St Vincents and have already sent a shipment of wheelchairs to Haiti. Of course their container is still sitting on the dock; I could have told them we know all about that!
Also long talk with Margaret McLaughlin yesterday, who went with us to Montrouis in April and has a continuing correspondence with Jonas at St Vincents. Margaret describes their conversations in French over the phone; you can imagine some of those difficulties. Can you hear me? Yes. Repeat. Are you there. Yes. Repeat, louder this time. Apparently Margaret's husband can tell when she is on the phone to Haiti because he can hear her shouting. In French.
So i send my apologies to all of you who want to hear about our trip. I promise to stay up past 8:30 pm this week and get my photos into the blog. Thanks to all of you for your prayers which protected us while we were there. Our children looked safe and healthy and happy.
Susan Nelson

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Patience of Job

That’s what comes to my mind as we travel in the back of the small pickup truck we travel for miles and miles and as far as my eye can see there is tent after tent one on top of the other siting out in the flood plain barely a path between them. My eyes tear up as I tell myself we have seen them before last April and there is no noticeable change except most now have tarps draped over them because they must leak. I have had to do the tarp thing over the tent because of leaking and the problem with doing that is you just made yourself a new sauna they tent no longer breaths and the heat in it just builds and builds. I honestly can’t imagine how hot it must get in that tent in the summer last April I visited the tent city and it felt as if I was in an oven and that wasn’t the hottest? How does a father protect his family while living in a tent? The thought crossed my mind as we drove by this and that was, if we were in America and we had dogs outside tied up and lived like this the Animal Control would come by and take the animals away. How do we help our friends here in Haiti how can the aide money be tied up in Congress may be the senator should spend some time in the tent city? These tent cities are a stop gap measure at best and only for a short term we, are coming up on a year and have yet seen any significant improvement. We have to do better we are all God’s children the People of Haiti have shown restraint and patience it has to be changed before it explodes. Please God help us and them we must do better.
sent in by John Mutin

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More pictures

Susan Nelson and Pere Sadoni

Sienna and Remi

Photos from St. Vincent's Trip Dec 2010

Here are a few photos from the Dec. trip.
Jill Bullard holds Viki Vincent, an infant boy with club feet and the newest orphan adopted by St. Vincent's School.  He was baptized during our December trip.

Sherye Fairbanks and Jean Robert

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sherye's journal from December 2010

Haiti Journal

November 2010
My dear friends,
It was impossible to get access to a computer every night, so I wrote everything but the first paragraph when we returned on December 5. Enjoy!
November 27:
We have arrived safely. Words cannot describe the drive from the airport to the house we are staying at. No lanes on the road and all the drivers are playing chicken! We are sooooo grateful to be alive after the drive here. Our first surprise was getting off the airplane and on the open-air shuttle. Half way across the tarmac our driver slowed down and pointed to the left. Sean Penn was standing there! More tomorrow if I can get to a computer.
December 5:
About Sean Penn—He has built a hospital here on what used to be a golf course before the earthquake. He hires Haitian workers and they are trained to be assistants in medical facilities. There have been a few times when he has flown patients out of Haiti in emergencies on his plane. He uses his own money and some donations. The Haitian people seem to really appreciate what he does.
I was relieved to find that there was an internet connection at the guesthouse and it would be possible to communicate with you all, but Haiti has its own rules and way of doing things and that was only possible one time. After the first night, we lost internet and electricity most evenings, making it difficult. This will be a long letter to you all to play catch-up. We were staying at a guesthouse that those in our group who had made this trip before called the “Haiti Hilton” because it was so much nicer than the place they stayed last time. This included a generator for emergency use when we lost electricity.
I found that the thing I missed the most about nights without electricity was that it interfered with taking a shower because of the water pumps that ran the well. We did figure out that if we all cooperated, there was enough water for everyone to take a shower. First you turn on the water, get wet, turn it off, soap up, and turn it on again to rinse off really quickly!! That way we all got that much needed and much desired shower. One of the most important things for us all was to cooperate and behave as a group. This was necessary not only to get things done, but to stay safe.
On Sunday, our first full day, we stayed at the guesthouse and organized all the medicine and supplies. There was a genuine scare about our safety because of the elections. The schools and most businesses were closed and what we thought were crowded streets were actually pretty sparse. Many people stayed home during and a few days after the election.
On Tuesday we were able to get to St. Vincent’s. Imagine if you will 10 adults crowded (and I do not use the word “crowded” lightly!) into the back of a pick-up truck and traveling through the streets of Port au Prince. You cannot believe how dusty the streets were. We were no more crowded than anyone else traveling, but everything about us screamed American! Our clothes, our skin color—most of us were white--our hats, our haircuts, and especially our size. Most of the people in Haiti are desperately thin. We were not.
Upon arriving we managed to untangle ourselves and were greeted by smiling faces, hugs, and many, many “bon jour’s!” Kids were jumping up and down and dancing around. The craziness of just getting to Haiti and then to the orphanage, was all worth it at this moment.
We eventually set up the clinic in a Quonset hut and saw about 30 patients that day. I was the interpreter for the deaf who sign a combination of about 80% American Sign Language and 20% something else that I could not identify. That was enough to communicate pretty well. The doctors were remarkable. We were in a room measuring about 15’ by 15’. In this hut there were 2 doctors, 3 interpreters (1 for sign language to spoken English and 2 for Haitian Creole to English), 2 chairs for the patients (the doctors and interpreters rarely sit down), 2 tables covered with sheets used for examination tables, a small table to hold the supplies which included suckers to give out to each patient (these are as important to the adults as they are to the children!), a screen covered with a white sheet to separate the tables, 2 fans on stands, several extension cords, 1 trash can, and 2 patients. And no one complains.
The patients wait outside in the heat until they are called. Everyone gets a hematocrit to determine if they are anemic—which they quite often are. Everyone gets weighed and their blood pressure is measured. These stations are set up outside. After all this, the patients walk over to the “pharmacia” to get any medicine that has been prescribed. This is actually the front of the director’s office. The books have been taken off the shelves so we can use the space for supplies, which means that the director is relegated to a space behind the bookshelves barely big enough for his desk. He does not complain and is truly more than willing to allow us this space. We were lucky enough to have a real live pharmacist come with us on this trip and she sat at a small table labeling the containers and measuring out pills and medicine. One of the students who speaks pretty good English helped write directions on the labels in Creole. She has no arms so she writes with her right foot. I dare say her handwriting is more legible than most in our group! No one complains.
The whole process for 30 patients lasts about 5 hours. It is around 100 degrees in the tent and hotter out in the sun and no one complains. The range of problems was enormous. Some were simple and others would break your heart.
There is no telling what is required of anyone. Everyone must be flexible and willing to do whatever is needed at any specific moment. The doctors take out the trash, the interpreters carry babies where they need to be, and running over to the pharmacy can be anyone’s job. There is great effort made to make the process as efficient as possible, but we try to stop each time and greet the patients and there is a great deal of laughter and smiling. When there is a problem, something doesn’t work, or there is confusion, you just stay calm, smile, and fix it. No one complains.

Every day after clinic was over we went out and played with the kids for a couple of hours. This is an orphanage for handicapped children. The ages are from about 6 to 19, but there are 2 babies that were abandoned there that are taken care of. They all have some handicap—deaf, blind, missing limbs, cerebral palsy, the list goes on. But when you look at this group of children you really see just children. They play and are happy and tease each other like all kids do. In some manner or the other, they are mostly all mobile and laugh a lot. They love to sing and dance. Music is everywhere. The teenagers are like all teenagers. They are trying to be cool and the boys are interested in the girls and the girls are interested in the boys.
Most of the time, our driver was Renauld. At first we thought all Haitian drivers were terrible, but came to realize that they were actually extremely good. There is not enough room for all the cars. Being in the back of the truck gave us a whole new perspective on traffic in Port au Prince. One inch space from the vehicle next to you on either side was enough. Passing, when possible, put you close enough to swap spit with the person in the next car. No one complains, but a lot of people honk their horns!
Renauld is a hero to those in the orphanage. When the earthquake hit, he went back into the shaking and collapsing buildings and brought out many of the children who could not walk because of their handicaps. He went back several times and saved many of the children who might have died in the falling rubble. There are so many stories like this one--stories of people who just performed these incredible acts of bravery and are quite humble about it. Renauld says that he believes God put him in that place on that day to “help get the children out.” I am honored to know him.
Wednesday and Thursday we moved the clinic to a building built for the orphanage by the A.A.R. This is, I think, the Association for Aid and Relief, an organization based in Japan. The story is that they came to Haiti after the earthquake and found out about the destruction at St. Vincent’s Orphanage. (What was not completely destroyed was completely looted.) They came and asked how they could help. They had an engineer and wanted to build a clinic. This is such luxury for the doctors who are used to having 2 examining tables with a sheet hung to divide them. They still share one examining room, but there is more space and the patients can wait inside for their turn. There is also a bathroom at the end of the short hallway and a small room with upper shelves and lower cabinets that will become the new “pharmacia.”
Friday was a very special day. We were honored to be there at their annual celebration of St. Vincent, the patron saint of the handicapped. There was a lot of singing and dancing. It opened with a prayer service. The AAR was honored, as was our group. The new clinic was dedicated, even though we had already used it! The kids all ate a great lunch with rice and sauce, a chicken leg, a vegetable, and cake. This is a special meal. Usually they eat rice with Haitian peas or some kind of bean, or sometimes rice with some kind of sauce on it for flavor. They normally eat 2 meals a day. Each child got a stuffed animal. We brought the animals, so those of you who donated to this trip helped to pay for them! Merci!
The evenings were calmer back at the guesthouse. As one large group, and in smaller groups of 2 or 3, we talked about the things that happened each day. The things that touched our hearts and the things that made us laugh. This is very productive. It keeps you sane and it is interesting to get the perspective of each person. We all come from different backgrounds and are different ages. One of the doctors was 88 years old. She is from Holland and was in Europe during WWII. She compared the destruction that you see everywhere in Haiti to that in Europe after the war. I have only seen pictures of Europe after WWII, but I think her point is well taken.
If I had to use only one word to describe Haiti, I would have to say it would be “dignity.” On Wednesday when we arrived all the children were dressed for their school day. This is cultural. They were wearing cotton uniform shirts that were ironed!! (I don’t iron!) Their hair was all combed and put up. The teachers and other people who work there all wear clean ironed shirts and pants or dresses. The children shower every day and their clothes are washed by hand by 3 ladies with wash tubs and hung on a clothes line to dry, then the uniforms are ironed. They are proud and dignified, and they are very humble. And they do not complain. The other word I would choose is “polite.”
Jean Robert was our guide and took great care of us. He is what you might call the grounds keeper for the orphanage, although he has more than one job there. He also helps to make sure the children are alright and that they behave and are polite. He invited us to visit his very small house which was condemned after the earthquake. He and his family sleep in one of the many tent cities we saw. He is in charge of three tent cities and manages them well. The most amazing thing we did was to take a tour through one of these tent cities which is a short walk from the orphanage. This is a memory I will never be able to let go of. Everyone was polite and nodded to us and to Jean Robert as we walked past. He is very well respected there. They said “bon jour” and smiled. It was very touching that in this unbelievably poor place, people are managing to raise their children and sleep in conditions that I find indescribable. There are no words. If there are words, I don’t know them. And they grow potted plants. I believe this to be a sign of hope. Anyone who feels hopeless does not take care of a potted plant.
After 6 days I was as tired as I have ever been. Leaving was joy and heartbreak at the same time. When we boarded the truck on Friday to leave for the last time, I cried. The children were waving and pretending to take pictures of us—a way of teasing those of us who took pictures of them the whole time! It was an incredible relief to arrive in Memphis after 13 hours on planes and in airports and see my husband waiting for me. At the same time it was incredibly sad to leave the kindness of the Haitian people, the laughing crickets and starry nights (there are no lights to get in the way of the stars) and these beautiful children.
We do what we can. We cannot do it all. We did the best we could with each person who came to us. We tried not to complain. Thank you to everyone who was kind enough to help and for the many, many prayers. I felt them all.
sent in by Sherye Fairbanks, sign language interpreter for our team

Thursday, December 2, 2010

the container has made it

John Mutin reports the food container from the Stop Hunger Now packing event is in the hands of the Diocese and off the docks.

And glory to God no more money changed hands - John Mutin

Monday, November 29, 2010

Arrival at the school, Rejoicing!

Nov. 29, 2010

Last night I asked everyone on our team here in Haiti to send emails and start a prayer chain to everyone they know to get us to St. Vincent's today. Thank you to all of you and to God because at 9:30 AM Pere Sadoni called to tell me he was on his way to pick us up. Our listless, pouting group sprang into action and of course then had to wait another 45 minutes for Pere Sadoni to arrive. That's Haiti, as my friend Amy would say. Hurry up and wait.

At any rate, we had a wonderful day at the school. Sienna made name tags for many of the kids. Sherye is the new star of St. Vincent's since she can talk with the deaf kids. She told me she learned a few new signs, some of which she was not sure were proper classroom material!

We took snacks with us for lunch, including several boxes of granola bars and cheese crackers pooled from our own private stashes. Of course, we put Diane in charge of the food and after she got to the school she immediately gave all the food away to Jean Robert. So much for our lunch. So we went to a nearby restaurant and tried to order off the menu. They were out of bread, so no sandwiches. DONT EAT THE TOMATOES I told everyone, but we had beans and rice and piclise (Haitian dish, very spicy, my favorite) and wonderful mango juice. So far no ill effects on the team. Of course, after spending 20 minutes trying to figure out the menu in french and submitting our orders to Jean Robert, we were all served the same dish. I ate it and was grateful.

After lunch we visited Jean Robert's house, where his family stays during the day. His house has been declared unsafe, so the government has told them not to sleep there. They sleep in a tent city down the street where Jean Robert is a manager. He tells us they plan to rebuild his house in March.

Then we visited the girl's dorm, where a new front wall has been erected although no gate is built yet. Most of the original buildings have been torn down, including all the classrooms and the guest quarters. The brace shop is still standing and apparently can be used again. Also the part of the building that contained the operating room is still standing, but we did not go inside to see the conditions.

It was hard for some of our team who have not been here since before the earthquake. Lots of memories in piles of rubble and concrete. The old school bus is parked inside the courtyard as well. Several of us have particular memories about that bus breaking down in the middle of Port au Prince at night.......

At what used to be known as the boys' dorm, there are many new classrooms, a new medical clinic that will be dedicated on December 3, and the temporary site of the brace shop. For our clinic we will be in a tent, and our pharmacy is in Pere Sadoni's office. We brought our dozen or so suitcases full of meds and supplies and tried to set them up in shelving units. Except that these units have no shelves (you have to have been in Haiti to understand how this could be possible). Dykiesha, our pharmacist, will be assisted by Tim Geske who has appointed himself director of crowd control. He should be good at that!

It was so DELIGHTFUL to be at St. Vincent's, to see Marie Carmel and Evie and Ronald and Madame Merita and the children, Frenel, Wichimene, Jean Marc, Rosemelaise, Judith, baby Diana, baby Margaret, and so many others. Diana is sitting up and can stand with support and take a few steps. She looks healthy and has some meat on her thin bones. Allie got to cuddle baby Margaret, who recently had to go to the hospital with anemia and pneumonia. She is apparently doing much better, although she still can't hold her head up and only coos, no words. Dykiesha got her to smile and maybe even laugh? a little bit. Sienna remembers all the children's names and she has taught me to learn them as well. Sienna taught me to remember the children by their names, rather than "the kid with one leg". She is their friend and they light up when they see her. When I visited some girls in the upstairs dorm today, I said my name and then said I was Sienna's mom. That always elicits a smile of recognition from the children. Drew sat in a chair with a coloring book next to JoJo, and soon had 5 or 6 kids in his lap as usual, and that big silly grin on his face. He becomes a different person when he is in the midst of the children

We had to tear Sienna away from St. Vincent's when it was time to leave. She was watching Beauty and the Beast in French with the older girls and was not ready to go. I think she would have stayed at the dorm tonight if I had let her.

We all rode back to our guest house in Pere Sadoni's truck. That's 13 people in one truck. Got the visual on that? Its about a 30 minute ride through Port au Prince. We saw no angry riots, no demonstrations, no signs of anything other than the grinding poverty and dusty streets, women carrying huge baskets on their heads, Tap Taps honking and motorcycles zipping in and out of traffic, chickens wandering across the street.... in short, what we have come to expect from Port au Prince. I confess it is a relief to pull into the gates of our Guest House, which is in what Sienna refers to as "The Germantown of Haiti". Germantown is where "the rich people live" in Memphis, and the houses are bigger and nicer and the lawns are well maintained. Village Theodat, which is a gated community neighborhood where our guest house is located, is amazingly beautiful and quiet just a few minutes away from the city center.

So no worries about us, despite what you hear on CNN. There are many disputes about the election but they appear to be peaceful for the most part, and certainly we were in no danger today riding in the back of a pick up truck through Port au Prince. Life goes on in Haiti, and I am so glad to be here and be a part of it.

Susan Nelson

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Concerning the safety of travelling to St. Vincent's

Nov. 28, 2010

Our mission team is safely housed at a guest house in Port au Prince. The problem is that Pere Sadoni (the priest in charge of St. Vincent's) is worried about us travelling to St. Vincent's tomorrow due to demonstrations in the capital today after the election.

PLEASE PRAY that God will make a way for us to go to St Vincent's and do the work we came here to do. I understand Pere Sadoni wants to take care of his American friends. But I think if we all have to spend another day doing nothing we will be very sad and frustrated and feel like we are wasting our time here.

So I have decided to take things to a higher power. This is where you come in, please pray tonight and tomorrow morning for God to protect us and get us where we need to be.
Please forward this message to everyone you know who might be willing to pray for us.



First news from the team Nov. 28, 2010

We all arrived safely with all bags intact, Hooray!

The guest house we are staying in is luxury accomodations. 4 people to a room, each larger than our bedroom in Memphis with bunk beds and a bathroom. So we dont have to share a bathroom for 13 people, which is a definite plus. Also there are stacks of towels in each bathroom, not just one towel one square meter size for each person.

Last night Chris (the owner) brought us each our own fan. Joy. The temp is 31 C which feels like about 80 deg or so.....quite comfortable and way below the boiling point temps we experienced in April.

We have clean water, from their well and filtered with chlorine added. Which means we can eat the salad, with fresh tomatoes and lettuce; something I thought we would have to avoid all week. The host and hostess weren't prepared to serve us lunch (something about advance notice which got lost in email communication between Memphis and Haiti) so we pooled our resources and shared granola bars and peanut butter crackers between us. There is coke for sale in the fridge so all was not lost!

Allie and her friend Mary Catherine arrived safely today, but no one else is going out due to the elections. I have spoken with Pere Sadoni who is in his home town to vote today. He says there is some trouble in the streets and right now does not want us to go anywhere. So we have unpacked and sorted the 20 bags of supplies we brought. A bounty of goodness for our friends at St. Vincent's. We hope and pray we can take it to them tomorrow. Resting in the guest house is great, but we are all itchy to see the children and get to do the work we came for.

Susan Nelson

Friday, November 26, 2010


Please pray for our mission team members, our safe travel and especially our ability to get around while in Haiti. We are staying at a guest house about 10 minutes from St. Vincent’s school. The national elections are on Nov 28, so there is some concern this will limit our ability to get around. Please pray that God in his awesomeness puts us where we need to be while we are in Haiti.

Mission team includes:
Tim Geske (now living in Florida)
Allie Russos, RN and friend Mary Catherine Brown from Durham, NC
Dr. Jackie Harris and deacon Jill Bullard from Durham, NC
Drew Woodruff, deacon St. Mary’s Cathedral
Dr. Susan Nelson, St. Mary’s Cathedral
John Mutin, paramedic, Holy Communion
Sienna Nelson, St. Mary’s Cathedral
DyKiesha Land, pharmacist, Memphis
Diane Reddoch, Holy Apostles
Sherye Fairbanks, Holy Communion

Thank you for all your support and donations these past few weeks. We are taking a "plane load" of supplies (at least, whatever is legally allowable by the airlines for 12 people to carry) and much needed cash to Pere Sadoni for the children. I will send posts (if possible) during our trip.
                                                                               Susan Nelson

Thursday, September 30, 2010


We have a team of 11 confirmed members traveling to St. Vincent's School for Handicapped Children in Port au Prince.  We will operate a medical clinic for 4-5 days and take all our supplies with us.  Due to the damage at the school, which included the guest quarters, we will stay at Heart Line Ministries which is a guest house in Port au Prince.

Our team includes Sherye Fairbanks, who teaches sign language to deaf children and will be a terrific asset to our team.  Also Tim Geske, former curator of St. Columba Episcopal Conference Center, is joining us.  Tim brings a wealth of experience from working with children over the years; especially operating summer camps and other activities for disadvantaged kids in Memphis.  Allie Russos is joining us again from North Carolina and bringing a friend with her to help us.  Drew Woodruff is our leader as always.  Amy Chanin, the physician assistant who speaks Creole, is coming and bringing her daughter, Hannah.  My daughter Sienna will also join us again.  Diane Reddoch and John Mutin, more Haiti veterans, will also be coming.

We ask for your prayers for the safety of our team and our supplies and especially for the well being of the children and adults we will care for at St. Vincent's.
sent in by Susan Nelson


By The Rt. Rev. Pierre W. Whalon, D.D.:

“Goudou-goudou” is the newest word in Haitian Creole. “Where were you Goudou-goudou?” they ask each other all the time.

The word is an onomatopoeia, recalling the sloshing sound the earth made during the great earthquake of January 12. All who heard it on that terrible afternoon will, I am well assured, never forget it. A heretofore-unknown fault line running beneath the city of Léogane —where the Diocese of Haiti began—fractured. Buildings conceived to resist hurricanes but not earthquakes came crashing down, crushing hundreds of thousands (the exact toll is still not known) to death, and amputating arms and legs of thousands more. Despite the dreadful roar of falling concrete and the screaming and wailing of terrified people, everyone heard the low, unearthly sound of the ground slopping back and forth, temporarily liquefied by the quake.


56 seconds later, the earth once again became solid. The screams died down, only to be replaced by the keening of grief and shock. As night fell, survivors gathered together, trying to organize rescue parties, or just to hold each other up.

In July, I made my second trip to Haiti since the earthquake. This trip, I found myself seated next to the country’s Minister of Commerce, Madame Josseline Fétière. A well-spoken cosmopolitan woman, elegantly dressed, we struck up a lengthy conversation. Eventually, she told me her Goudou-goudou story. As her ministry building had only one story, she and all her personnel were able to get out unscathed. (The government was otherwise virtually decimated, with some thirty percent of functionaries killed in the quake and most buildings destroyed.) Finding her home destroyed as well as those of other family members, Madame Frétière returned to the courtyard of her ruined ministry, where a crowd had gathered.

“We began to pray,” Madame Fétière said. “But we had no words, other than to cry ‘Jézus, Jézus’ for we had absolutely nothing left but him.” Tears ran down her face, unwiped, as her eyes looked off into the distance of memory. A few dropped onto her tailored suit.

Just as Americans can tell you where they were on September 11, 2001, or November 22, 1963, Haitians each have their own January 12, 2010 story. And now they have a new word, their own private word, to express their solidarity. And it must be said that the word has an amusing sound as well, which helps Haitians get some handle on the horror that haunts them.

What struck me in July was the difference in the country from my earlier trip in March. Progress was being made, despite the media reports to the contrary. Where was the Gulf coast six months after Katrina, in the richest and most powerful nation in the world? Goudou-goudou was much, much worse, and Haiti is probably the poorest and, certainly one of the least powerful countries. The president is a lame duck, the government is trying to organize despite hundreds of NGOs doing basically what they want, and a million people are still living in tents. And it is now hurricane season.

The other part of my experience was to witness the work being done by the Episcopal Diocese, which calls itself “l’Église Épiscopale d’Haïti.” Led by Bishop Zaché Duracin, whom his clergy refer to as “Le Sage”, they have methodically been setting to work rebuilding their nation. Engineers proceed to the poorest regions, building small but solid homes for the dispossessed. When I visited the village of Mathieu, a community living in a tropical forest, I visited several and spoke with the families and building teams. “How do you pick the first people to get a house?” I asked. “We ask the community who are the worst off, and they get one first.” Through donations, Episcopal Relief and Development supplies the $2300 each house costs, and the Haitian Episcopalians provide the design, materials, and construction. Each house also is provided with an outdoor latrine and a shower as well. “We want to add a little porch for $300 more, so the families can sit outside when it’s hot,” said Bishop Zaché.

It’s always hot in Haiti.

The 254 diocesan schools have re-opened, using improvised shelters of various kinds. In March, my first visit, I saw only wreckage and corpses at the site of the École Sainte-Trinité, next door to the cathedral, which had been obliterated by Goudou-goudou. Now 600 children in uniforms study in temporary classrooms. Haiti’s first woman priest, la Révérende Fernande Pierre-Louis, is the head of the school. She talks excitedly of the future. “As Bishop Duracin says, Haiti died on January 12 and now we await the resurrection. For me, resurrection means better than before. I want our school to produce excellent students, ready for the world. We will not settle for less!”

What was the massive pile of rubble that greeted me at first is now cleared. The lone remaining mural of what once made this church a UNESCO World Patrimony site sits under a frame to keep it dry. Seeing the 1924 building now only in outline, I realized how small it was. The new cathedral will have to be bigger, as befits the Episcopal Church’s largest diocese. Resurrection indeed! (See for information about the cathedral rebuilding project.)

My last Sunday in Haiti, August 1, I began by celebrating the Eucharist for a good-sized crowd at St. Martin de Tours Church, under a huge tarp stretched between the buildings of the parish’s once-large school. Later I went to the Cathedral site, where the Eucharist was just ending in what Bishop Zaché calls “our fresh-air cathedral,” a shelter with open walls. (It has been reinforced since March.) A television van was setting up for a concert. Despite the loss of their season, and many of their musicians, the Orchestre philharmonique Sainte-Trinité was going to give their final (and only) concert for the year.

“Why the television truck?” I asked. The answer was that the concert was to be broadcast live on national television. Haiti’s only philharmonic orchestra belongs to … the Episcopal diocese.

They showed off. First, a fifty-voice men and boys’ choir sang several numbers. Then a young person’s string orchestra played several pieces. A wind symphony band followed, concluding with some jazz. Finally the whole came together, an 80-piece orchestra and the 50-voice choir. The repertoire was classical for the most part, with some Haitian music.

In a former life I was a trained classical musician, an organist and composer, and I still have the critical ear I was trained to have. Musically, the long concert showed all the enthusiasm of a good amateur orchestra, no more. But Goudou-goudou was never far. The program listed the members killed on January 12, to whom it was dedicated. Most of the instruments were new, donated by American Episcopalians. I wondered what kind of determination it took to practice viola or bassoon in the tent you live in. They were making a statement.

“We Haitians know how to survive,” Madame Fétière had told me. “We have our faith. And we have l’espwa.” That is Creole for “hope.” You see it written everywhere in the country. Leading in the way of hope is l’Église Épiscopale d’Haïti. I am really proud to be an Episcopalian, when I see what they are doing. What our people are doing, with the help of their sisters and brothers in the Episcopal Church and from elsewhere in the Anglican Communion.

There is so much more to do. The Episcopalians of Haiti are doing all they can, and it is amazing. They have needs they cannot meet, however. They cannot pay their teachers, as parents cannot pay school fees for now. The clergy go unpaid as well. The diocese needs an experienced administrator to manage the crisis. They need an experienced construction project manager as well. And Bishop Zaché, in the nine years I have known him, has always needed an assisting bishop—never more so than now. There are plans to raise the money to pay for these. Later on we will raise funds to build the new cathedral, new schools and churches.

The Orchestre philharmonique performed the Haitian premiere of a piece by Jean Jean-Pierre, a prominent Haitian composer, called Terremoto. It is a fairly conventional tone poem depicting the Goudou-goudou. After a lot of pyrotechnics depicting the quake and collapsing buildings, there was a moment of silence, interrupted only by an old musician playing a large Haitian drum, the only native instrument being used. He tapped out a quiet beat, punctuated by a little slipping sound he made by sliding his thumb along the drumskin. A pall fell over the faces of the more than 180 musicians. As Madame Frétière had done, they all stared into the distance, or else at the ground, reliving the aftermath.

Seeing their faces made my throat seize up. I looked at Bishop Zaché sitting next to me. He too was seeing his Goudou-goudou. Haitians will be sharing such moments for decades to come.

And the Episcopal Church will be there to minister healing and restoration, in the power of the Spirit.

Bishop Whalon welcomes comments or questions about this article. You can write to him at

THE RT REVD PIERRE W. WHALON is Bishop in Charge of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Stop Hunger Now event, July 31, Memphis - West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Message from Pere Kesner Ajax regarding the food shipment
August 5, 2010

Dear Ruthy,
Thank you very much for this update, the pictures also. I am so pleased that Pere deravil can make this trip with his spouses Fenide. I have to tell you that this food made many miracles few hours after the earthquake. There is always a reason for things happen. This food were cooked during several weeks for the people at the College St Pierre Camp few hours after the earthquake, at this moment, it was very good in the mouth of everyone.
You in Memphis at this moment, were in a hurry , it like the food should be there before the quake.
Thank you very much, we are continueing to pray for all of you for this gift that God give you to love others specially the hungers.
The Rev. Kesner Ajax
Executive Director, Bishop Tharp Institute (BTI) Partnership program coordinator, Episcopal Diocese of Haiti
                                                                                              sent in by Ruthie Lentz

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Raymond and Father Jacques Deravil - Haiti Suitcase

Thank you to everyone who played a part over the past few months in helping Raymond on the journey with his “Suitcase for Haiti”.  When he approached us at dinner in early April with the idea to do something for the children of Haiti instead of receive birthday gifts from friends and family I knew we needed to find a way to make this happen. 

Raymond’s vision to send his suitcase to Haiti quickly became a reality. Through our amazing connections at Grace St. Luke’s School, Baptist College of Health Sciences, and the West Tennessee Haiti Partnership he moved forward with his plan.  A huge thanks to everyone who contributed to the suitcase.  It was packed with all sorts of school supplies, craft items, puzzles, small toys, bubbles, toothbrushes / toothpastes, and even yo-yo’s. 

Last Saturday morning Raymond presented his Haiti suitcase at the Stop Hunger Now city wide event at Holy Communion Church.  This was such an extraordinary experience because the recipient of the suitcase was Father Jacques Deravil from Montrouis, Haiti who was in Memphis as part of the West TN Haiti Partnership efforts. He will be personally delivering the suitcase to the children at St. Paul’s Church & School upon his return. 

As a parent I am extremely proud of Raymond’s heart for service to others and wanted to share these thoughts and pictures with all of you.

Thank you again for your support! 

                                                                                   sent in by Debbie Williams

Monday, August 2, 2010

Haiti Episcopal Connection

From: Kesner Ajax

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

First, let me thank you for all your prayers, your help and support of the
Haitian people during these difficult times. 

You have been our partners before the earthquake, and I know you will be our
partners as we rebuild our country and strive to build a better Haiti and better
future for all Haitians.  Your support has been very remarkable and has made an
enormous difference in all of our lives. 

The master plan for rebuilding the institutions of the Diocese (Churches,
Schools, Theological Seminary, University, etc.) is available.

It is in this spirit that we invite you all to the Haiti Connection Conference,
to be held in Miami, Florida, November 3-5, 2010.

Information will soon be posted on the website of the Haiti Episcopal Connection

We hope that all of you can attend the conference so that we can plan a better
Haiti together.

Please call or write with any questions you might have to:

Kenneth H. Quigley, Program Director
Endowment Management Services
Episcopal Church Foundation
New York, NY
717-645-2989 (c)

With all my gratitude to you, I greet you in Christ Jesus.
The Rev. Kesner Ajax
Executive Director, Bishop Tharp Institute (BTI)
Partnership program coordinator, Episcopal Diocese of Haiti
Mailing addresses:
c/o Agape Flights Cayes
100 Airport Ave
Venice Fl. 34285
c/o Lynx Air P-au-Prince
P.O. Box 407139
Fort Lauderdale,FL 33340

Tels. 011-509-3445-3346

Photo of St Vincent's school after the quake

St Vincent's after the earthquake

St. VIncent's School Update

This information comes from Hope Lennartz, director of Friends of St Vincent's:

Currently classes at St Vincent's School have resumed for 8th graders only, about 60 kids who are preparing for the National Exams so they can go on to high school.  These exams are usually in June but were moved to the fall due to the earthquake and the delay of school openings.  Formerly there were 2 catholic high schools in Port au Prince which were wheelchair accessible, for our St VIncent's kids to attend.  These have been destroyed, so it is unclear where our kids will be able to attend high school at this point.

There are about 30 girls and 30 boys now staying and attending classes in what was the Boys Dorm before the quake.   This summer Father Sadoni plans complete renovation of the offices at the Boys Dorm, into classrooms, so that he can  have about 200 students in class.  This will include 100 dormitory students and 100 day students.  Every day Father Sadoni gets phone calls from parents wanting to know when the school will open again. He expects that by September, he will have about 70 blind students and the remainder will be deaf or missing limbs, including children up through the 6th grade..  He also wants to reopen the brace shop in the fall.

He is limited by several circumstances, including the fact that apparently the sand found in Haiti is not compatible with rebar for building concrete structures.  After the quake, the Episcopal Church hired architects and engineers to examine the church's property throughout Haiti.  They found that the rebar decays in the concrete made with Haitian sand, so that sand will have to be brought in from elsewhere.  Also the government has placed a moratorium on new construction until they establish a code for buildings to be earthquake proof and hurricane proof. 

Also the school lost a $3000 Braille copier that fell off a table during the earthquake.  There are efforts to see if this can be repaired in Haiti or sent to the States for repair.  Several braillers were miraculously discovered in a locked closet and were not looted after the quake.  Typical news from Haiti, heartbreaks and joys all mixed together.

The most joyful news is that Pere Sadoni is getting married!  He will marry Daphine, whom some of us met in December 2009, on Dec 21, 2010.  The Feast of St. Thomas.  Congratulations to Pere Sadoni; many prayers offered for blessings on Leon and Daphine.

Susan Nelson

Food Packing Event Declared a Success

Thanks be to God, with approximately 460 volunteers we were able to package 144,747 meals to ship to our brothers and sisters in  Haiti.  We also sent several boxes of peanut butter, 2 suitcases full of cloth diapers, 12 boxes of school supplies, one non electric typewriter, (donor anonymous), one flute, donated by Kelly Hamric of St. Mary's Cathedral,  one cornet, donated by Linda Spivey of Good Shepherd Church, and one guitar (donated by Sienna Nelson of St. Mary's Cathedral).

The shipment should be sent to Haiti within the month. Bishop Duracin will decide how to distribute the meals among his many churches and schools.  The other items were earmarked for St. Vincent's School for Handicapped Children in Port au Prince.


Susan Nelson

message from Father Leon

 Message from Pere Sadoni July 12
He is referring to the medical records of the children.  I asked him if they survived the earthquake, and mercifully they did.

Susan Nelson

Dear Susan,

Glad to hear from you. I am very happy to hear that your team is packing food to send down to Haiti.

All the record had suvived from the earthquake. We're transfering them little by little to the boys dorm campus.

Thank you in advance for the milk, the pinutt butter, the music supplies, the school supplies that you will send. I desire it to see St vincent resurrected in all its Section: School, music, clinic, etc...

May God bless you,


Father Leon visits Friends of St. Vincent's in July

 The following is a report sent by Harriet Epstein

Dear All,

Report on Father Sadoni Leon’s Visit   July, 2010

Though the first week started out slowly since the July 4 weekend had few people in town I was able to arrange a series of appointments.
Father Leon arrived Tuesday evening, July 6, 2010.  I was able to get him to the Convent by 8 pm and the sisters were there to welcome him. (Since the convent was booked, he came to stay with me on Sunday.)

On Wednesday July 7 we met with the Arlen Fuller the policy person with Jennifer Leanings’s assistant at the FXB Center at the Harvard School of Public Health and her assistant Lauren Bateman.  The FXB Center is focusing on vulnerable children.  They have not had a focus on disabled children (I followed up with a call to Lauren but Dr. Leaning had not returned as yet. Gretchen, can you follow up on this with Paul Farmer since he is part of that group? FXB could bring in other parts of the Harvard community.)

On Thursday July 8, we went to the Learning Center (formerly the Framingham School for the Deaf) and spent two hours with them.  If we had had all day we could have easily been there all day.  The folks were MOST gracious and we met a lovely Haitian/American gentleman who is a teacher there, whose brother-in-law went to St. Vincent's ...he signs, speaks Creole and he offered to go to Haiti to train staff (if we pay his way).  Sadoni was impressed with how “fluent” the children are in sign language.

Later we went to Boston Artificial Limb and they have "stuff”, old prostheses to send and they will send them when we get them the information about where to send them.  Also, they also offered to fit one of the children if we bring him/her here.
(Later discussions with Hope Lennartz indicated that may not be a wise move and perhaps the cost incurred would be best in training students at St. Vincent’s in making and adjusting prostheses.  Steven Leo from BAL gave me the name of the volunteer person of the VA in Boston who will have more information about training at a VA hospital.) 
On Friday morning we met with Aubrey Webson and Maryann Perkins in the international division and we will be meeting the President Steve Rothstein on Monday morning.  (Steve will be going to Haiti in August so this is a very fine time to be meeting him!) 

On Saturday Hope, Solange, Marie and Bill from the Friends of St. Vincent and CMMH came to Boston to have lunch with us.

Bill presented the need to capture this once in a lifetime opportunity to rebuild St. Vincent’s and the need to develop a plan and to consider which services St. Vincent’s should be offering.

Father Leon indicated that the government will be reallocating the land in that area and that it may be possible that St. Vincent’s will get a larger property.  That area of the city will have water, electricity and services priority. (I have seen this in several of the countries that I have worked in that areas in which the government has its buildings and services, hospitals and other essential services priority is given to provide basic infrastructure, i.e. 24 hour electricity..etc.  As I indicated in an earlier email, the Friends have approved a visit for Father in mid October. (During this visit at Perkins they will organize a study tour for him.  Later Marcie Roth the Disability Advisor at FEMA also suggested he visit Washington during that visit.  It seems that the White House has expressed interest in issues related to disabilities in Haiti.)

The conference we are going to is being sponsored by the Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities following Disasters   the website is   They have the full cast of presenters and the conference schedule on the site.  Marcie Roth who is the Disability Advisor to FEMA will be there as well as folks from the UN etc.

The same organization had a conference in April on Haiti which was terrific so hopefully this one will be as well.

On Sunday, Sadoni had the “day off” and was able to visit with friends.  I picked him up at the convent to bring him to my house for the rest of his stay since the Sisters were no longer able to accommodate him.

We met with Steve Rothstein the President of Perkins on Monday morning.  He will be meeting with Secretary Clinton’s disability advisor and folks from USAID on Friday in Washington. I spoke of the need to make sure that St. Vincent’s is getting food distributions and particularly for when the school opens in October they will need to be feeding over 200 children each day as well as whatever resources can be made available to St. Vincent’s.  He asked Father Leon to send him pictures of St. Vincent’s. (We did.)  He also said that he would be visiting St. Vincent’s during his visit Haiti this August.  We discussed Father Leon’s coming this fall to St. Vincent’s and the year long training at Perkins for a staff member who will be replacing Madame Compas.  Since their brochure indicates that they do on site training, I asked if that would be a possibility if Perkins would send down a team to train there.  He said it would be possible. Afterwards we met again with Aubrey Webson and Mariann Riggio.  We spoke with Aubrey about the on site training and he has two people in mind from St. Lucia who speak Creole and who could do the training in Haiti. And we had a small tour of the campus.

On Tuesday the conference focused mostly on US FEMA activities.  We had a great discussion with Marcie Roth the disability advisor for FEMA.  She suggested that Sadoni goes to Washington on his trip in October as well.  She asked him for a “wish list”. (We have started to put one together… and will need to prioritize.)

On Tuesday evening my neighbors and friends, Nick Carter, the Brathwaites, The Nogradys, Bashi and Sadoni’s friends came for desert at my house. Leon B. and N. Carter asked what they could do through their Episcopal churches here in the Boston area.

Wednesday the conference in the morning. Steve Rothstein called the night before to say that he had a Brailler Father Leon could take with him so on Wednesday afternoon we went to Perkins again and Sadoni picked up the Brailler and a ream of Brailler paper.  Steve indicated that  four more will be on the way. Steve introduced a child to Father Leon and told the child that in Haiti that the children have to share Braillers and how difficult it would be to do homework if you have to share your Brailler.  St. Vincent’s has 70 blind children.  That evening we had dinner with Nogrady’s and Braithwaite and they made donations of the trombone and checks to sponsor two children. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010.
Conference in the morning, visited Sisters to say goodbye and meeting with BU Urban Design Professor, Enrique Silva.    We discussed with him the issues related to St. Vincent's property and the possibility of working with several groups that have funding and capacity to build accessible and appropriate buildings for people with disabilities.

We got back home at 3 pm to give Father Leon some time to pack.

Friday, July 16, 2010.
Sadoni is on his way back to Haiti with a Brailler, a printer, a typewriter (the manual kind), flute (the trombone will have to be sent), business cards in English and French/Creole, etc. etc.

I am delighted. We threw our net wide and we caught some fish!  Hopefully more will come our way/