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Mèsi Haiti!

Doreen S. Oleson, Ed.D.
December 20, 2011
Late last Sunday, I arrived home from a six-day trek to Haiti.

Gratitude knows no boundaries when it comes to my Haitian experiences. Resilient and hospitable are the Haitian people. The children are simply remarkable. They welcomed us into their classrooms, their singing circles, and their play time activities. Their huge smiles and keen engagement captured our hearts.

Teachers and staff in Haitian Episcopal schools are central to the continuous and loving ministry provided every day. Their work is guided by faith and love. The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti’s formidable priests and administrators serve multiple congregations and ministries and are truly Haiti’s unsung heroes. They provide the promise of stability, trust, love of and for the Church, and are unrelenting in their loyalty to people beset with less.

Meaningful relationships and lasting friendships will grow from our time together, our shared meals, and our meetings. I trust more Haiti-U.S. Episcopal school partnerships will bloom. Many NAES schools have already begun partnership work and these trailblazers deserve kudos and best thanks. We will continue to learn from our new Haitian friends and importantly, our alliances will not only endure, but will flourish and make a difference in all of our lives.

I am grateful for our co-leaders, the Rev. Roger Bowen, U.S. liaison to the Diocese of Haiti Partnership Program; and Serena Beeks, Executive Director of the Commission on Schools for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, for arranging every detail—and for their precise vehicle maneuvers in precarious situations that would confuse and compromise most drivers!

And I am also grateful to my travel companions: my rector and confidant, the Rev. Carri Patterson-Grindon; Merrily Dunlap, my mentor and former Episcopal school head and NAES Governing Board member; close colleague Karan Merry, head of St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Oakland, California and current NAES Governing Board member; Karan’s spirited and eloquent rector, the Rev. Mauricio Wilson; quintessential travel pro Ted Von der Ahe, parishioner at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California; and enthusiastic and physically-fit Ann Mellow, Associate Director of NAES. Each member of our delegation was thoughtful, generous and above all, flexible.

We pray for Saint Marguerite School, our Haitian partnership school in Latournelle; for their priest, gracious Pere Phanord and his wife Patricia; and for the dedicated men and women who teach and serve the students there. And without a doubt, we pray continuously for all the beautiful children we met.

Mèsi anpil!

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