Why We Are Going to Haiti

October 2018

Later this month, a small group of parishioners led by Fr Ben will travel to south-west Haiti.  

Our goal is to expand the mission of Saint James’ Episcopal Church & School by finding an Episcopal church and school in that region of Haiti, share our stories and our culture, and help them prosper in their mission to expand access to primary education in their community.

In a country where educational opportunities have all too often been reserved for a tiny elite, the impact of support like this has the potential to be far-reaching.

The Episcopal Church has over 150 years of history in Haiti, and the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti is the largest diocese in the Episcopal Church. Education has been a focus of the Church’s efforts there since the very beginning, and Episcopal schools continue to play an outsized role in the country’s educational framework.

We will be guided for most of our trip by Serena Beeks, a member of the governing board for the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) who is the primary liaison between the NAES and Episcopal schools in Haiti.

We realize that others in the Saint James’ community have expressed interest in traveling with a team to Haiti and we are confident that the work of this group will open those doors.

We have arranged to visit several schools in the region around Jacmel, a port town on the south coast and Trouin, a mountainous town on the south-west peninsula.

We hope that, guided by Serena’s expertise and by building on our previous exploratory trip to Haiti, we will come away from this experience with a better understanding of the needs of Episcopal schools in that region and how Saint James’ may be able to sustain the mission of one of them.

We also hope that by continuing to form relationships in Haiti we will educate our own community about the people and culture and circumstances of Haiti and the Episcopal diocese there.

We also hope that, as a parish community, we can use that knowledge to understand our own role in Haiti’s history and our opportunity to participate in the country’s future, and to advocate for “justice and peace among all people” and “the dignity of every human being” – in Haiti and elsewhere – with our pocketbooks, with our time and talents, with our spiritual lives and with our political lives.

On this trip, Fr Ben will be joined by Cammie Fuller and Terry Owsley, both of whom have a wide range of experience and passion for advocating for justice and educational opportunities around the world. Coy Ferrell will accompany them to document their experiences and the places they visit.