St. Augustin Church and School in Maniche, Haiti
St. Andrew’s and St. Augustin Episcopal Church in Maniche, Haiti, began a relationship in 1988. At that time, St. Augustin and three other mission churches were assigned to a young, newly ordained, Haitian priest. All four missions were in remote villages in the south of Haiti. St. Augustin was further isolated by a broad river that separated the church from central part of the village. There was no bridge to cross the river, so goods, people, and the priest had to cross the river by donkeys who stepped on the higher rocks of the river bed. This new priest was aware that he might soon find himself in deep water.
St. Andrew’s, along with three other Episcopal parishes in the greater Kansas City area, volunteered to assist this priest with partnerships of prayer, dialogue, and visits. Mission visits led to many personal relationships. The four original partnerships expanded to twelve and a nonprofit organization called Haitian Episcopal Learning Partnerships (HELP) was formed to coordinate trips, communication, and projects.
Now, 25 years later, St. Andrew’s and St. Augustin continue to be close spiritual partners. Through these years, both partners have learned from one another and supported one another. St. Andrew’s has assisted with agriculture, economic development, and health projects in Maniche. But the longstanding focus and area of greatest success has been in education. St. Andrew’s has assisted with funds for construction, teacher salaries, equipment, supplies, and lunches for St. Augustin School. The school now educates over 400 students each year in grade levels from preschool through middle school. Few of these students would otherwise have an opportunity to attend school. In recent years, St. Andrew’s parishioners have made it possible to provide a hot meal for every student every school day. The health and performance improvements are noticeable.
In Haiti, few teachers have formal teacher education and there is no system of continuing education for teachers. So, St. Andrew’s and other HELP partners are engaged in developing teacher seminars for all of the HELP schools. The teachers at St. Augustin are excited about the new skills they are learning, and it is a highlight for visitors to see that the techniques taught are now being used in the classroom. Next on the agenda is establishment of a Parent Teacher Association and development of a master teacher program at Maniche. So, St. Andrew’s is continuing along a path of enabling local leadership and sustainability.
After more than 25 years, the heart of this relationship continues to be a spiritual partnership. Fr. John Spicer calls it “a walk with Jesus together.” We pray for one another, we communicate with one another about issues and opportunities, and we continue the visits that were originally pledged. We invite you to take part. Opportunities for volunteers include helping with our two fundraising efforts:
- The Haiti Christmas Card Sale
- The Haiti Benefit Dinner (Previously known as the Fools for Christ’s Sake Dinner)