Dear St. John’s members,
We are writing to update you about the purpose, use and accounting of our donations to our partners in Haiti. As most of you know, St John’s has partnered since 2007 with the parish of St. Philippe et St. Jacques, in Gressier/Collin. This arrangement is administered by the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti Partnership Program. Our primary support has always been for teacher salaries at the church-run school, although in the past we have also supported medical clinics and a lunch program.
Because communication has become more difficult than in the past, we have only recently become aware that not all the money we have sent has been used for teacher salaries. We have been informed that some has been used for making improvements to the yard of the school, buying supplies for building new classrooms in the future, and other unspecified needs of the school. We have also learned that teachers are complaining that their salaries are too low. Although we support the school as a whole and hold as sacred the ministry our partners are doing there, we also hold sacred the intent of St. John’s donors to cover only the cost of teacher salaries. We also care deeply about contributing toward a fair and livable wage for them.
Communication has become more difficult in part because priests in Haiti are moved around fairly often. The Rev. Markendy Jean has been the Priest in Charge of St Philippe et St Jacques since 2019, and because of the difficult security situation in Haiti since 2018, he is the first of our four partner priests that we have not met in person. Our main means of communication has been through WhatsApp, and there is a language barrier. Also, for the first years of our partnership with the school, someone from St. John’s went to Haiti twice annually and could see for ourselves how the school was doing. However, since 2018, due to the pandemic and significant unrest in Haiti, we have not been able to do this or to confirm the improvements to the school about which we’ve been informed.
We have been communicating honestly with Rev. Markendy and the school principal, Elissaint Michel (whom we have known for many years), and have come to a firm agreement that from now on all donations we send will be used only for teacher salaries. The teachers’ salaries will be increased and we will receive more thorough and frequent reports to account for the money we send, about the school budget and the progress of the students. We have also invited the school to provide detailed information if they have a specific need for additional funds, and we will consider whether it’s possible for us to help with those needs.
In the interest of transparency, we wanted you all to know these details. It is a very difficult time in Haiti right now, and yet, because of our support, over 200 students were educated at St Philippe et St Jacques this last school year. They are the future of Haiti.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to Dianne Pizey, Haiti Committee Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org, or our Rector Lisa Wiens Heinsohn, email@example.com, with any questions or concerns. We are grateful for your support.
Dianne Pizey, Haiti Committee Chair
The Rev. Lisa Wiens Heinsohn, Rector