A few years ago, parishioners at Christ Church were asked to donate crutches for people in Haiti. For most of us, that was the first time we learned that Christ Church has a connection with Partners in Health, the organization started by Dr. Paul Farmer. Some of us had read Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder’s book about the important work done by Dr. Farmer and others in the remote village of Cange, Haiti. Cange would not be the success story that it is without water. And here in our midst was Clarkson Williams, whose father created the system by which water is pumped up 600 feet to the people of Cange. Moreover, Clarkson’s mother, Jackie, now lives in Cange and runs an Art Center providing employment for many local people.
In the fall of 2010, we held a fundraiser to purchase soccer balls for the children in Cange. Ordinary soccer balls soon develop leaks and become useless. These new balls, made from the same material used in Crocs, are basically indestructible.
In January 2011, carrying with us a few of those soccer balls, a group of Christ Church parishioners traveled to Cange. We stayed on the grounds of ‘Zanmi Lasante’ (‘Partners in Health’ in Haitian Creole) and felt the warm hospitality of Jackie Williams and Marie Flore Chipps. Marie Flore oversees the mission work done under the auspices of the church at Cange. (Father Fritz Lafontant, Marie Flore’s father, was until recently the rector of the church.) We met many people and witnessed their dedication to improving the lives of Haitians—often through education. A few of us had concrete skills that were useful during our visit. One person helped to develop curriculum materials to teach chemistry. Others helped sort books in a small library. And the artist in our group worked directly with young painters at the Art Center—more on that below.
On the website http://lesamisdejackie.shutterfly.com/pictures/977, you will find some photographs taken during our visit. Also, look for the video entitled “Cange Stairs Beyond Stairs” which will give you a good sense of the Zanmi Lasante community: http://lesamisdejackie.shutterfly.com/pictures/598
Shane Crabtree spent many hours working with artists at Sant Art ak Kouti (the Art Center) in Cange. Part of Christ Church’s mission since returning from Haiti is to help support the Art Center. Paintings and other work done by the artists are currently offered for sale in the Sant Art gallery. To make their work available outside of Haiti, we have agreed to offer some of their art for sale at Christ Church. In addition, St. Anne’s in the Fields Episcopal Church in Lincoln has agreed to partner with us in this effort. The artists’ work will be displayed after church in the next few weeks. (A booklet of photos showing some of the artists with their work is available for viewing at the Glebe House. A pdf copy of the booklet can be found by clicking here).
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Our connection with the Art Center gives us at Christ Church a concrete way to make a difference, encouraging these talented, eager, hard-working young people in their goal of becoming professional artists. Any money earned through this effort will help them to buy art supplies.
Christ Church and St. Anne’s are also forming a partnership to look at other opportunities to help the people living in Haiti’s Central Plateau. In particular, we want to support the creation of a new vocational school to train people for jobs that will help them and their families move out of poverty. You will hear more about this in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here is a link to a brochure about the new school.
We invite your participation, interest, and support. If you have questions about any of this, please contact Shane Crabtree, Doug Crabtree or Clarkson Williams.