News updates from St. Timothee School in Haiti
Haiti team in january 2019 set up computers with Wi-Fi and assembled furniture for library and computer lab.
Reif Kessler checking the water system at St. Timothee School in 2017.
Susan and Reif with Lucson, driver-translator-friend (left) and Pere Michaud (right).
Teachers and pupils of St. Timothee School.
Children enjoy a new soccer ball.
Reif sees that the cistern is too low to filter water.
In the mid-1990s, our church made decided to build a much needed school in Larevoir, Haiti.
That school, St. Timothee School (we also call it the Allison School, named after our minister back then, James Allison), began with 50 students and has grown to 300 students today. The school has changed the lives of countless students and improved the living conditions of the entire community of Larevoir.
The school has outgrown its building and in response the RCPC Endowment Board bestowed $33,000 along with a $2,000 private donation to fulfill the cost to build three new much needed rooms to support this growth: an administrative office, a library, and a computer lab. A power source is still needed to operate this will involve installing six solar panels at a cost of $2,500 each.
This cost includes all materials, batteries, installation and transportation of materials from Port-au-Prince to Larevoir.
January, 2019: Our advance team of Susan and Reif Kessler went down two days early to do some tasks that did not require the whole group. On Jan. 29, the bulk of the team -- Ellen Austin, Sandy and Rosita Paul, Fred Hoffman, Hunter Moore, Matthew Ricks (pastor of Rocky Mount Christian Church), El Saviers and Andrew Whaley -- left Roanoke.
Our mission goals included:
1) Visit Pere Goursse (who visited RCPC back in the fall) to report on a Presbytery project of building a compound wall for a community food program.
2) Purchase books in French for the new library
3) Buy four computers for the new computer lab
4) Assemble furniture for the classrooms, library, and computer lab (the wood was purchased and preassembly was done by a local carpenter and his team)
5) Paint the inside of the classrooms (paint was purchased locally and 10 Haitians were hired to do the work)
6) Set up the library and computer lab
7) Do a set of professional development workshops for our teachers and teachers from a neighboring elementary school
8) Do a first-aid workshop for those same teacher
9) Participate in Sunday’s worship service in the church which owns the land for the school
10) Share with Maceson, the school’s principal, as his son is baptized and Reif becomes the child’s godfather
11) Visit the school sponsored by the Crittentons
12) iInteract with the students, faculty, and staff of school as much as possible.
Our team brought a lot of life skills, some tools and paint supplies, three computers and a printer, lots of school supplies for the students and teachers, soccer balls, and a large first-aid kit.
Beyond our church’s support we had additional gifts from a GoFundMe effort set up by Jordan Hertz to purchase the library books in Haiti, the Rocky Mount Christian Church which helped with the library fund, and Covenant Presbyterian Church that provided funds for the four computers purchased in Haiti.
Thursday morning included visiting the students in their classrooms and getting oriented for the various tasks. Items were unpacked from the eight suitcases we brought and then organized. Several team members got involved with desk assembly for the classrooms. Work began on the computer lab with setting up the computers and installing software. After noon the professional development team began their workshop for about 25 teachers and staff.
Friday was a continuation of many activities. The Haitian painters started their work about noon. Andrew learned that he was preaching at Sunday’s service and met with the new Episcopal priest. Finished the desk assembly.
Saturday, the 3-hour first-aid workshop was given for the teachers. The desks were varnished. The rooms were given 2 coats of paint. The library was organized. The computer lab was set up, including limited Internet access. All of our school-related goals had been accomplished with an amazing degree of success. With the unpredictable nature of a mission trip God had provided enough for us to get the tasks done.
Sunday, Andrew preached and participated in communion and the baptism. We all got to attend the baptism party that afternoon and early evening.
Monday morning involved leaving our lodgings about 7 am, riding 6 hours on a wide variety of roads, spending 8 hours in airports and planes, before arriving home – all in the same day.
We have to acknowledge the support of Ancy and Hems who got us safely around the country each day. We depended on them for their driving skills, but also for their advice for many situations, and their personal interactions were greatly appreciated.
Susan and Reif Kessler were in Haiti from Feb. 9-13, 2017. Here's their report on what they saw and did following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew, which struck Haiti on Oct. 4, 2016. The hurricane hit land only 60 miles west of St. Timothee School.
We visited with Cindy Correll, the only full-time Presbyterian missionary in Haiti, who visited RCPC last spring.
We had several long discussions with our now even more trusted friend, Lucson ---driver, guide, translator, guardian, travel optimist and dedicated Christian.
We renewed our face-to-face relationship with Pere Michaud.
We visited each classroom at the school and gave each child a small cross to wear around their neck.
We had a discussion with Petet-Frere, Mackenson and Enette -- the principal, assistant principal and office manager at St. Timothee School -- about the prospects of a lunch time feeding program for the school.
We shared lunch and had a very informative session with the teaching staff.
We travelled to Petite Riviere and visited with Maccine, who operates the school and church there. He told us about his experiences with a lunch program operated by Trinity/Hope, a Christian organization in the United States with whom we have been communicating.
We were greatly encouraged by a meeting with three Haitian employees of “Plant with a Purpose” about using funds granted from our Endowment Board to promote community based replanting efforts and local goat husbandry.
We worshiped again with the St. Timothee congregation.
We delighted in seeing and chatting with several other mission teams in Haiti.
What did we conclude?
1. We need to continue our support of St. Timothee School – a place that has been the starting point for nurses, teachers and at least one priest and a multitude of regularly employed individuals - by providing not only staff salaries but also by striving to find ways to support each teacher both as educators in their classrooms and as people with needs in addition to pursuing projects at the school.
2. We need to proceed with a relationship with “Plant with a Purpose” in their program to promote the restoration of local food supplies, the development of improved local agriculture and business practices and the nurture of spiritual resources and relationships.
3. We will work toward funding an appropriate partner to make provisions of a lunch for each student each day a reality.
If you are interested in working with the Haiti Mission Group, join them on the first Sunday of the month following 11 a.m. worship. You do not need to be willing to go to Haiti in order to be involved. There are many ways to help from right here in Roanoke.
And we ask everyone, please, to continue to pray for the children and teachers of St. Timothee School.