Writing from the patio at the Servotel, a hotel in Port au Prince across the street from Touissant L’overture airport.
Poolside, a few tables still wet with dew and the early morning light still punctuated with stars.
My favorite time of day in Haiti. The roosters which have been crowing all night are still vocal, audible even in airport territory. Staff are sweeping the patio, opening screens and preparing coffee.
I wake up feeling joyful. A common emotion for me in this country full of vibrant colors and indomitable people.
This week we’ve been meeting with St Vincents Governing Board, with the school administrator and principal, with Bishop Duracin and Père FanFan, the school’s priest in charge. Struggling to find solutions to ensure quality teaching at the school, support the teachers and staff, find food and clean water for the children, and build community partnerships. All against the ever present backdrop of limited resources. Over hanging all of these discussions this week has been the tension between the priest in charge and the school administrator and principal. Tensions like this have flared in the past but are particularly intense right now. Memories of the summer of 2015 come to mind, when Bishop Duracin suddenly removed the priest in charge and sent him to the North of Haiti. That crisis was followed by a command meeting in New York at the central offices of the Presiding Bishop. Out of that crisis came our newly formed Governing Board and operating agreement for St Vincent’s , and entered Bill Craddock to lead all of us to a new school , new administrator, new property, new policies and improvements which are obvious to all who visit St Vincents.
The Church has been and will remain the central figure in this dance of players. Folks who gathered this week, including two priests, and who held daily morning prayer poolside at the Servotel are drawn by Gods love to come to this country and offer what gifts we have. Certainly the Bishop and priests of the Haitian church are fighting to keep their place at the center of St Vincents destiny. Finding a balance has been a huge struggle. St Vincents draws attention from many powerful and influential people.
So why do I wake this morning feeling joyful, after three days of intense meetings and difficult conversations?
Because Haiti makes me feel joyful always. Despite all odds, Haiti’s people overthrew their French slavemasters and claimed their own country. Despite being alternatively shunned and then scapegoated, Haiti manages to remain a beautiful country full of people with generous hearts.
Today I will spend with Mackenson, a young man who grew up at St Vincents and is now in Medical School. We’ll visit his school and the Haitian National museum and the Art museum. I’ll practice my Kreyol and he’ll practice his English. A joyful day.