Thursday, February 23, 2012

Foundry Haiti VIM team: Day Six

The last full day in Haiti for the Foundry VIM team -- Wednesday, Feb. 22 -- began with faith and ended with works.

Before departing the Mellier worksite, Foundry Associate Pastor Dawn Hand conducted an Ash Wednesday service for 20 people, including the nine Foundry VIM team members and 11 Haitians.

Pastor Dawn imposed an ash mixture comprised of ashes from Foundry and those gathered from the coals used by the four-person Mellier kitchen staff, who prepared the VIM team's meals.

Eguins Louissaint bid the VIM team farewell on behalf of the Mellier community.

"I believe one day we will be together again to worship in the (Methodist) church of Mellier," Eguins said. "We do not share the same language, but we share the same language of God. I love you."

After leaving Mellier, the Foundry team toured Port-au-Prince, viewing the national palace, which still lies in ruins, and a tent city that continues to occupy a prominent downtown square.

After lunch, the team visited the Hotel Montana, where Clint Rabb and Sam Dixon, United Methodist Committee on Relief executives, died from injuries sustained in the collapse of the hotel in the January 2010 earthquake. The team said a prayer at memorial on the site.

In the afternoon, the team returned to the Methodist Guest House in Petionville.

After relaxing briefly, the team reported to United Methodist Volunteers in Mission leadership about their Mellier experience, an important final action to complete their week in Haiti.

Over the course of more than five hours, the group met with Tom Vencuss, project coordinator for the Haiti Response Plan, a partnership between UMCOR, UMVIM and Eglise Methodiste de Haiti; Lauen James, UMCOR liaison to EMH, and Pastor Fede Jean Pierre, superintendent for the EMH circuit that includes Mellier.

Nicole Woo, Lauren VanEnk and Ace Parsi outlined several of the concerns related to them by the Mellier community, including teacher salaries and training, the hiring of local workers at the Mellier construction site, a school lunch program and micro-finance in Mellier.

In each meeting, the Foundry team sought to ensure that the $7200 Foundry raised to support teacher salaries and the school lunch program reached its intended recipients.

Pastor Fede said that his circuit is considering changing the worksite-pay system so that the workers are compensated directly by the church district instead of by the site boss.

He also said that he is trying to get local communities more involved in supporting their schools.

As Haiti struggles to recover from the earthquake, the Haiti Response Plan faces its own challenges in trying to help the country. The group is supporting 25 worksites while developing other initiatives.

"There's so much to do, and we have limited resources," said Pastor Tom.

On Thursday, Feb. 23, the VIM team will leave Haiti on a 10:30 a.m. flight to Miami. We're due to arrive in Washington in the early evening.
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