St. James' School ("École Saint-Jaques") in Haiti is situated in a remote area of northern Haiti, near the border of the Dominican Republic, a 12-hour journey by road from the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The school has approximately 120 students, ages 5 through 14. The head of school and three other teachers cover the four classes taught at Saint-Jaques. Students, the children of subsistence farmers, come from the surrounding area and often walk many miles each way to get to the school: a plastic tarp supported by four poles in the middle of a cleared area. A group from St. James' Los Angeles visited the area in spring 2008 but was unable to reach the school, owing to heavy rain that rendered the roads impassible. We met the head of school and several students, who had hiked for three-and-a-half hours to meet us to take back the supplies we collected from the student body. They are delighted to be partnering with us.
In 2010, one of our faculty members, Mrs. Brown, visited Saint-Jacques, actually reaching the school for the first time. She delivered sunglasses that the students of St. James' had collected. (Because of the intense sun, eye problems are very common in Haiti.) She also delivered stuffed animals and handmade cards from two of our classes. On the dusty plateau where Saint-Jacques sits, the students have created a large soccer field. There is no grass on the field, just dirt, and the goals are made of two sticks coming up from the ground with string connecting the tops. The most popular gift of the trip was certainly the soccer balls. Mrs. Brown spent two hours playing soccer with about 60 boys.
Mrs. Brown returned in 2011 to deliver service projects designed and implemented by her 5th grade global health classes. The projects included solar ovens; handmade Creole alphabet, number, and animal books; solar lamps; and large bags of beans and rice.
In addition to the visits, the entire community of St. James' has worked tirelessly to raise money for other projects benefiting Saint-Jacques. One of our very generous families donated the funds to build a well to provide clean water. Even though Saint-Jacques is in a rural area, away from Port-au-Prince, the earthquake in 2010 was devastating. Many lost family members in the earthquake, and Haitians fled the city afterwards to try to find shelter. The population of the area around Saint-Jacques grew, which put additional strain on the school and families who struggle to pay for food and education. St. James' held bake sales and other fundraisers to help pay for the additional food costs. Our students also raised over $2,000 when they discovered that the teachers of Saint-Jacques had been working without pay for over six months. Mrs. Brown returned to St. Jacques in 2013 with videographer Paul Mayne and returned with the video above. They brought with them service projects put together by St. James' 6th grade students. The hope for the video is that it will shine light on the struggles of Saint-Jaques and inspire future support.
We expect this to be a beneficial and educational relationship for both schools and hope that families from St. James' Los Angeles will visit St. James' Haiti in the near future.
If you, too, would like to assist our Haitian brothers and sisters, Episcopal Relief and Development, Partners in Health, and the Red Cross are on the ground in Haiti assisting in the relief effort. If you would like to make a donation, we suggest going to these websites:
Or, if you would like to make a donation directly helping Saint-Jacques, please contact Head of School Deborah David.
We continue to keep the people of Haiti in our thoughts and prayers.
Mèsi pou èd ou e Bondye va beni Ayiti (Thank you for your support, and God bless Haiti.)