Our mission work in Haiti is done by the Empire Haiti Coalition. The Empire Haiti Coalition is comprised of St. Andrew’s Albany, The Cathedral of All Saints, St. George’s, Clifton Park, St. Paul’s, Schenectady, St. John’s, Troy, and the nonprofit To Love a Child in Clifton Park. The coalition works with a somewhat unusual parish in Haiti, the parish of the Holy Spirit located in Lascohobas. This particular parish consists of six congregations served by one priest, The Reverend Pére Jean Milor Medela (Father Milor). Father Milor’s home parish is in the city of Lascohobas and the other five mission churches he serves are in the surrounding villages. Each member of the Empire Coalition adopts or sponsors one of these congregations. The Coalition then works with Fr. Milor to understand the specific needs of each village and mission. The Coalition also works together to find solutions for one congregation and then, where possible and appropriate, implements those solutions in the other congregations under Father Milor’s care. Some previous solutions include solar power installations, health and hygiene programs, education programs, and micro-loans.
The Work of the Coalition
The Coalition is planning a mission trip in February of 2013. Two groups are participating in this trip, each for one week. The first group, led by Cindy Schmehl, will be traveling to Rantlamouaie and will focus on maternal and child health care. The second group, led by Tim Schmehl, will focus on installing a solar panel in Poulé.
The Coalition sent a shipping container, completely filled with supplies for all the coalition villages, which has since been adapted into a patient ward for a medical clinic in Rantlamouaie (the completed ward is shown at left). The container shipped in late May of 2012 and was received in Haiti in July of 2012. A road had to be built in order to get the shipping container to its final destination in Rantlamouaie.
St. Andrew’s in Albany is sponsoring St. Jacques in the village of Lahoye. St. Jacques is a small community with a strong faith and a strong spirit as well as many needs. It is located in the eastern part of the Central Plateau region near the border with the Dominican Republic, one of the poorest parts of Haiti. The parish of St. Jacques has a rudimentary shelter that serves as both the church and the school for 250 children. The church/school “building” consists of hand hewn poles with a flat tin roof and woven mats and bed sheets for walls.
The Cathedral of All Saints is sponsoring The Church of the Ascension in the village of Poulé in the Central Plateau region of Haiti. This village is about an hour’s drive on some very rough roads from Father Milor’s home parish in Lascohobas. The Cathedral’s main work in Poulé is the support of a school of 170 students, because that is the top priority for the leaders there. As one teacher in Poulé noted, “Without education, we have no society.” The school is operated by the Church of the Ascension and meets in the church building during the week. The building is very simple. Some rooms have two or three classes meeting in them, and the lighting and air flow is minimal. There are tentative plans to begin fundraising to buy the necessary equipment to install solar panels in Poulé to provide power for the Church of The Ascension and its school.
St. George’s in Clifton Park is sponsoring St. Philippe and St. Jacques in the village of Corosse. They contributed to the planned construction of a water purification system and to the installation of solar panels. The solar panels were installed in March of 2012, providing the first electric light for the village. St. George’s also contributes to the support of a school operated by St. Philippe and St. Jacques’ which has between 80 and 120 children attending. St. George’s has been fully funding the student needs and teachers’ salaries, amounting to $500 per month from September to June. St. George’s also hopes to support a project called CSAR (Cleanwater, Sanitation, Agriculture and Reforestation) for the area of Corosse. The objective of this project is not only to provide clean drinking water and sanitation, but through a sustainable cooperative program grow fruits (planteens), vegetables (cassava), and trees (oaks, eucalyptus) to provide food for the people and to reforest the barren slopes to stop soil erosion.
St. John’s, Troy has had a relationship with the Church of the Holy Spirit in Lascohobas since 1986. There have been political disruptions and violence in past years, making it difficult to visit Haiti, but St. John’s has persevered. The staffs of the church and school have changed. The school has grown and improved academically. Students pass their National Exams with honors. St. John’s and the Church of the Holy Spirit piloted the installation of solar panels by the Empire Haiti Coalition, and St. John’s partnership with RPI provided enough power for a student computer lab and lighting in the classrooms at night for adult classes, though the work was interrupted by the devastating earthquake of 2010. The school is now becoming a kind of community center because of the light available.
To read about the work in Haiti of To Love A Child, another partner in the Empire Haiti Coalition, click here.