In 2012, there was a devastating earthquake in Haiti. The Cathedral responded with a missionary trip to an Episcopal church and school in Lascahobas. This church's rector, Father Jean Jacques Deravil, also oversees his home church of Le Spirit in Lascahobas and five other rural missionary churches. Each one of these churches is associated with an Episcopal school for local children.
Also in 2012, the Cathedral became partners with the Church of the Ascension in Pouly, Haiti. This church’s school enrolls 120 - 140 students per year and employs eight teachers and a principal. School supplies, water sources, health care and sanitation are all in short supply. The devastation of 2012 presented a real threat for the students, whose families could not provide antibiotics for infections. Now their school has a little electricity, all supplied by solar panels installed by our team.
In 2013, Bishop Love, Dean David Collum, Deacon Plaske, Alyssa Plaske, Drs. Tabitha and Peter Cole, and Karen Coulson went on a mission trip to Haiti. They visited the Bishop in Port au Prince and provided a Bible School Day for children, complete with Bible stories and crafts. But the main purpose of the 2013 mission trip was to visit the school at The Church of the Ascension in Pouly and focus on health care.
Alyssa and the doctors taught the teachers and children how to wash their hands using soap and a portable tub with a faucet attached. About 88% of diarrhea-associated deaths are attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, and insufficient hygiene: this had been the primary concern of parents.
Along with support from the Cathedral, the school at Pouly benefited from World Vision’s institution of a program providing food for daily hot meals. The school now has a depot: a concrete locked building where food can be stored safely and cooked daily by the parents. All of the above changes in hygiene and nutrition, made possible through simple acts of giving, have substantially improved the children's health.
Deacon Susan Plaske visited Haiti again in 2016 shortly after Hurricane Matthew devasted the coastal villages. Then the Cathedral, through Deacon Plaske, brought medical supplies, glasses, vitamins, soap, diapers, and first aid to The Church of the Ascension in Pouly.
The Church of the Ascension is where the children have been meeting for school. Church pews convert to school desks during the week. Supplies are scarce and much of the teaching is through repetition and song. Many of the parents of the children cannot read. We were humbled to find that children attending the school learn to read and then often teach their parents by reading the Bible to them. The Cathedral family has supported its mission to the church in Pouly by paying teacher's salaries for six years and with school supplies. Money was raised through a Cathedral concert in 2017 to begin work on a new school building
The Cathedral of All Saints continues to help build the school at Pouly and designated $6000- in 2018 for this work. The boys of the Cathedral Choir donated the $600- they earned from performing Britten’s War Requiem with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, which was matched with $6000- from the Cathedral’s Chapter. The Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys also took a collection for Haiti from attendees of the 2018 Messiah Concert. Part of this money has been sent to improve school furniture and buy supplies. The children, parents, and teachers of the school in Pouly and Fr. Deravil pray regularly for the Cathedral and ask God to bless us.
God is at work in Haiti. A sewing project is now underway, with a sewing machine that was donated to the village women who gather daily to pray for the children. Many of the children have now graduated and have moved on to help at the school or have learned a trade to help their village. One of the young men from Fr. Deravil's church just recently began Dentistry school.
Our relationship with the Church of the Ascension is of mutual benefit. A trip to Haiti will make anyone realize that we have much more to learn from them than they need to learn from us. If you are interested in assisting in the mission, we ask that you make a regular donation to the Cathedral with “Haiti Mission” in the Memo. This is the best way you will ever spend your money. Please feel free to contact Deacon Plaske for more information and to learn how you can help make a bright future for these beautiful children who are filled with Joy in the Lord. We also seek partnerships with other churches in and around Albany to support this most worthy mission. Deacon Plaske can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.