Over sixty Episcopal schools in the United States have a partnership with an Episcopal school in Haiti through the Partnership Program of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti. The need for the mission and work of Episcopal schools in Haiti, and for supportive partnerships with Episcopal schools and organizations here in the United States, remains important and critical to the long term rebuilding of Haiti as a whole. NAES urges its schools to enter into such a partnership either alone in in concert with other Episcopal schools and institutions.
Episcopal Schools in Haiti
Over 200 Episcopal schools in Haiti provide quality education to children of all faiths and remain an anchor of stability and progress in the communities they serve. Many schools were damaged and destroyed during the January 2010 earthquake and remain in need of rebuilding. Others have needs for, among other things, teacher salaries, student tuition, building improvements and expansions, basic supplies, and feeding programs.
The schools are seeking long term cultural and prayerful relationships and financial support So, how can your Episcopal school or organization sign up for a partnership?
Signing Up for a School Partnership
It is critical that Episcopal organizations in the United States work through the Partnership Program of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti and its liaison to initiate a relationship with an Episcopal school in Haiti. The diocese has identified those schools that would most benefit from a partnership and it selects a Haitian school to partner with a school or parish in the United States.
Small clusters of neighboring Episcopal schools, parishes and parish day schools, and cathedrals and cathedral schools in the United States are encouraged to co-sponsor a school in Haiti together. Such collaborative efforts can better insure that the Haitian partner school is not abandoned when there is a leadership transition or other event that may impact the partner relationship and/or funding.
To request a partnership, please contact Serena Beeks at email@example.com.
Developing Your Partnership
So, you have been partnered with a Haitian Episcopal school and want to establish an ongoing relationship. What comes next?
There is a tendency to jump directly to issues of money: either an urgent request from the Haitian school or an immediate fundraising initiative by the U.S. school. Successful partnerships survive and thrive, however, only when they are grounded in meaningful, mutual personal relationships between the schools, their students and their teachers. All partnership participants are encouraged to read and share Guidelines for Schools: Developing Partnerships Across Cultural and Economic Difference for tips in this area.
It is important to share basic information about one another’s schools. Once a school in the United States and a school in Haiti have been partnered, e-mail and other contact information are exchanged and the schools work directly with one another to establish an ongoing relationship. You should find out about your partner school—location, community, how many students, tuition and fees, and the needs of the school and its students—and share information in return.
Each school in Haiti has an Episcopal priest who serves as head of one or more schools and is the primary point of contact, usually via e-mail. Heavy workloads and varied levels of English mean that U.S. schools must be both flexible and patient when sending or awaiting communication from Haiti.
NAES and the Partnership Program urge sponsoring schools and parishes in the United States to organize a visit to their partner school in Haiti early in the relationship.
While some in the U.S. may feel that funds for such a venture could be better spent on direct financial support for the school in Haiti, personal visits are critical to the success of partnerships across cultural and economic difference. A series of trips to Haiti for visits between partner schools are organized annually. Schools interested in participating in these trips should contact Serena Beeks (firstname.lastname@example.org), who can also provide general information about partner visits to Haiti.Typically, the initial visit is made by a small delegation composed of the head of school, rector, and interested parents, trustees, or faculty members.
Schools with longer-term partnerships have invited their partner school’s priest to their school in the United States, initiated ongoing teacher visits, and organized student visits.
Financial Support for Your Partner School
It is the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, through the Partnership Program, that administers all financial support provided to Haitian Episcopal schools. This allows the diocese to account for all funds, prioritize needs, and oversee the projects underway at various schools. The diocese’s Partnership Program Information Guide provides contact information and outlines how funds can be sent to support partner schools.
In reflecting on the work ahead, the Reverend Kesner Ajax, Coordinator of the Haiti Partnership Program for the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti wrote, “It is at times when our test seems unconquerable that your love, support, and passion provide reassurance that amazing things can happen through God. Thank you all again so very much for your commitment and the special relationships each of you has formed with the Diocese of Haiti.”