Since 2008, St. Mark’s has been committed to a mission partnership with our brothers and sisters at St. Luc School in Mercery, Haiti, a rural village 30 miles west of the capital Port-au-Prince. The one school building contains 9 classrooms and a principal’s office. Learning is entirely by rote, as approximately 40 students in each grade copy in small notebooks information that the teacher writes in Creole on the blackboard.
In 2009 six St. Mark’s parishioners gained an overview of the mission during our first visit to Haiti, and in 2011 four parishioners helped a local carpenter build 20 student bench/desks to replace those destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. In late 2010 Father Kerwin Delicat, former priest at St. Luc’s, visited Mystic for five days, interacting with church members and celebrating the Eucharist. In 2014, we undertook another visit, this time bringing text books and math-based manipulatives, as well as the prayers and support of everyone at St. Mark’s. Parishioners led a teacher training workshop to teach the local educators how to bring these items into their classrooms.
As there is no public support for schooling in Haiti and the children who attend classes are unable to pay school fees, St. Mark’s wires monthly donations to help cover teachers’ salaries, which is the primary cost of education. As a result of an increase in our monthly donation from $400 to the present $1,100, the population of the school has grown to nearly 300 students, and seventh grade is being offered for the first time in 2016-2017.
In 2015, Fr. Joseph Sonley succeeded Fr. Kerwin, and Fr. Adam Thomas and Tim Evers visited Haiti to meet with Sonley and the teachers. The primary desire of these dedicated educators was that their students have lunch during the school day. We began the lunch program in fall 2016 and we are continuing this year, as well! We hope our partnership with St. Luc School continues for many years.