Monday, December 13, 2010

Haiti Connection

The Haiti Connection conference last month was very productive. Approximately 350 people attended the 10th annual Haiti Connection conference in Miami. Clergy and interested parties representing 32 US states, Washington DC, the Caymen Islands, Jamaica, Canada and a large delegation from Haiti joined together to discuss how Episcopal, Presbyterian Churches and others can support the people and country of Haiti.

The schedule was packed and Kathy represented us well to the different groups in attendance. Much great information was shared and the Diocese's initial plan to rebuild in Haiti was laid out. Kathy was able to attend all 3 days and took special interest in the breakout sessions on healthcare and St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children.

Being the thorough note-taker that she is, she took FOURTEEN pages of notes. In an effort not to make the blog trail on for days, below is a super-summary of those notes, including some key facts regarding the devastation of the earthquake as well as the Diocese's priorities in rebuilding.

As per our mission, The Red Thread Promise will focus on supporting the children of St. Vincent's, helping to provide for their day-to-day needs, arranging medical care as necessary, bringing medical teams and supplies to the center, and partnering with others to rebuild the facility. It is our goal to restore a life of normalcy to these exceptional children.

Haiti Connection
Miami, Nov 3 – 5, 2010

  • 1,500,000 million people in Haiti affected by earthquake
  • 1,000,000 +/- people currently living in tent cities
  • 250,000+ died in the quake
  • Episcopal Diocese damage: $8,000,000,000 loss
  • 31% church
  • 50% schools
  • 80% secondary schools
  • 25% higher education
  • 33% rectory/guest housing
Kesner Pharel, the first keynote speaker, spoke from the government’s point of view and outlined the country’s 4 main pillars of their efforts: territorial, economic, social and institutional rebuilding. The Haitian government has promised to turn the disaster into an opportunity to make it an emerging country by 2030. Pharel concluded with these critical thoughts:
  • US and other countries should not just give money to Haiti.
  • Pulling together, we need to invest in Haiti.
  • Send knowledge so Haitians can help pull their own country out of poverty.
Remarks were given by The Rt Rev Jean Jacques Duracin, Bishop of Haiti, who outlined the 10 projects that the Church will focus on during the initial rebuilding efforts. Each was selected due to their Episcopal and community outreach, including:
  • Holy Trinity Cathedral (HTC): A sacred place of worship and culture in Port-au-Prince, originally built to honor the first Bishop of Haiti. HTC’s school was unique in the country, hosting 4,000 students, many of which were killed in the quake
  • St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children School and Medical Facility (SVC): The 65 year old center was the first school in Haiti to take care of disabled children. Located one block away from the Presidential palace, SVC serves some of the most disadvantaged children in the city—blind, deaf and mute children and other physical disabilities—with ages ranging from 5 to 16, sometimes older. SVC provides not only a home for these exceptional children, but also a school, clinic, church and extended family.
  • Music school: A unique place and treasure for Haitians.
  • University: A small but critical university in Haiti that is able to offer higher education that meets the financial needs of the students.
  • Seminary: The oldest institution of the church in Haiti provides training for clergy and lay leaders.
  • Hospital
LONG RANGE PLANS were shared covering the following topics:
  • Education (Dr. Lucien Bernard)
  • Long Range Health Care (Hilda Alcindor, R.N.)
  • Development (The Rev. Frantz Cole)
  • Financial Accountability / Communication (The Rev. P.J. Woodall)
The Rev. Sadoni Leon and The Rev. Canon Bill Squire
during the breakout session for St. Vincent's

BREAKOUT SESSION – St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children
  • The Rev. Canon Bill Squire
  • The Rev. Sadoni Leon, Director, St. Vincent’s Center
  • Hope Lennartz, Friends of St. Vincent’s
Discussion focused on immediate needs of the Center (food, clean water, wheelchairs, crutches, blind walking sticks, brailers, school supplies, clinic supplies, ramps for wheelchairs, computers, musical instruments, etc) as well as the long-range plan to rebuild an accessible, safe facility for disabled children.

Part of the rebuilding plan for St. Vincent's

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