Haiti Pilgrimage 2016: Day 1 and 2

A reflection by Dani Scoville

There is a group of 13 travelers from the diocese of Califoria who are on a holy pilgrimage in Haiti. We are here for two reasons: to learn as students from the people and place of Haiti, and to continue to nurture the relationship between our diocese and the diocese of Haiti.

Saturday evening, April 2, most of the group departed from SFO on a red eye and arrived in Haiti Sunday morning, April 3. The first day we spent time resting and swimming in the pool at our hotel. In the afternoon, we dressed up and went to the Karibe Convention Center to see a concert from the Ecole de Musique Sainte Trinite, an Episcopal music school that teaches Haitian children classical music and so much more. After the concert, we dined with one of the conductors Pere David Cesar, the executive manager of the school Bernadette Stella Williams, and a few of the students. The high school students and the music school students had a chance to chat on their own about school, music, etc. I got to ask Bernadette about the local music scene and the genres specific to Haiti, such as compas and zouk. 

Monday morning after breakfast, we were guided on a walk through the neighborhood to St. Vincent’s school for the handicapped. There, Joseph Jean-Paul (who goes by Jo-Jo) who is a teacher and fine artist at the school, shared his story of being born limbless and how the school took him in, raised him, and taught him to paint and type. He showed us his paintings and a few students and adults bought his artwork. We then went on a tour of the school and got to see the students in their classrooms. The school currently has around 375 students, but when they build their new campus, they hope to be able to teach 1 to 2 thousand students. St. Vincent's is the only school for the handicapped in Haiti. 

Then we met Serge Sacra — translator, guide, musician, and dancer — who took us on a tour of local historic sights in Port-au-Prince. We visited a "gingerbread house," a small and colorful house with detailed brick work, which is now an art gallery for its former owner local artist Burton Chenet. Other sites included the National museum of Haiti and an art gallery in a former Russian Embassy called Elsaieh Gallery. We then went to Oloffson house for lunch where we got to meet the Bishop of Haiti, Bishop Duracin. 

We assembled back at the hotel to swim, play Marco Polo, and have dinner with David, Bernadette, and a few students from the music school. After our guests departed, we debriefed with the high school students about how saw God throughout our visit so far. 

For more photos, see the facebook album.