A Quick, Incredible Trip to Haiti Leaves SAES Contingent Touched, Determined
Posted September 18, 2012
Last week, I traveled to Haiti on a quick four-day trip to participate in the blessing of the new five-room school building at our partner school, Christ Roi Episcopal School.
For families that are new to St. Andrew’s, our school is involved in a long-term, now three-year-old partnership with an Episcopal school in rural Haiti. A part of this partnership is the raising of funds annually to pay the teachers and principal of Christ Roi, who have worked for many years without pay. But our relationship goes beyond money and has become a true cultural exchange through three St. Andrew’s trips to Haiti, one including students which will happen again this February, and through our dear friend Pere (Father) Joseph Jeannot, who visited us last fall. We also work to weave Haiti into pieces of our curriculum throughout the year.
My traveling companions were Ginger Cobb, Assistant Head of Upper School; Anne Wallace, Chair of the St. Andrew’s Board of Trustees; Anne Duvall, President of SAPA, Sarah Davis, St. Andrew’s Board member; and St. Andrew’s alumni parents Tina Silberman and Sydney McKelvy. Last year, this group of parents spearheaded fundraising efforts among alumni families, specifically for the school building. To see all their effort and the blood, sweat, and tears of the Christ Roi community become a reality in this new school building was very emotional for everyone.
We dedicated the school on Tuesday, September 11. We blessed every room and led all their teachers, parents, community leaders, and students in prayer. Members of the school community spoke during the service about how they felt forgotten by the government and how they were treated like animals living in tents in the wilderness, and you can see why when looking at some of the accompanying “before” photos.
The school "building" in February of 2011.
The new building on the day of its dedication and blessing.
Our connection to them and the positive things that have grown from that relationship has shown them they are not alone. I told the community that this dream of a new school building has come true because they have been willing to share their story with us, and we have shared it with others who have been equally moved and motivated to help affect to change in their world.
I was also able to see the real live goats that our Lower School students raised funds to purchase through our goat cards last fall. I met “Michelle” or Michael, the stud goat who lives on the school’s property as well as the mamas and now baby goats that are already increasing the initial herd of 30 goats. If you purchased and gave a goat card last year, I have attached a PDF that you might want to pass along to share news of the program.
Students in Christ Roi hold up the goat cards they received last spring representing real goats the SAES community was raising funds to buy for them.
The goats in the flesh.
If I had to crystallize the emotions of this event into one, it would be pride. Every plaster wall and every paint stroke of this building is perfect and filled with hope for the future and love. As the children held the ropes of their goats, their faces beamed. Pere Jeannot even said that the children and people of Christ Roi are carrying themselves differently.
So, our partnership continues. Curricularly for our students, and for this group of committed alumni parents, our focus has turned to water and the hope of a clean, safe water source for Christ Roi. The Lower School cards this fall will reflect this water theme, and our students will learn about the importance of clean water and what your life is like if you have to walk great distances to find water every day.
If you would like to learn more about this partnership and the work being done, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, the Rev. Patty Alexander at email@example.com, or Ginger Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are a gifted community in that we have many connections to people knowledgeable about international work and we always appreciate widening the circle.
Lastly, thank you, thank you, St. Andrew’s community. Your commitment to this endeavor is beyond words. I love living in a community where I can say to our Lower School students who ask to go to Haiti, “Well, you can’t go this year, but in a seven or eight years, let’s talk.” Amazing.