Diocesan student pilgrims to Haiti raise funds for scholarships by selling Haitian coffee, chocolate, and metal art

At the end of the pilgrimage to Haiti with Bishop Marc during Spring Break this year, the bishop challenged 5 students from St. James, San Francisco, Epiphany, San Carlos, St. Paul’s, Walnut Creek, and Trinity, Menlo Park to engage in educating their congregations and deaneries about Haiti and to raise funds for one for the Diocese of Haiti’s institutions.

Colin Cooper of St. James, San Francisco, chose to support DioHaiti’s St. Barnabas Agriculture School — Terrier Rouge, in Cap Haitien in the north of Haiti — by raising funds for student scholarships. He began by selling Haitian coffee at his school, University High in San Francisco. He plans to continue selling coffee, chocolate, and metal art at his congregation.

Immediately upon returning, Colin reached out to the Manager of Donor Relations in The Episcopal Church’s development office in New York. Manager Maggy Anderson Keet connected Colin with a woman-owned, non-profit, fundraising organization called Singing Rooster, which is focused on helping farmers and artisans in Haiti sell their products in the US and improve their crop yields and business practices, creating jobs, and planting trees for reforestation.

Then he and Kayla Leveque of St. Paul’s, Walnut Creek, joined the deacon missioner to Haiti, the Rev. Davidson Bidwell-Waite, to sell Haitian coffee, chocolate, and metal art at St. Bartholomew’s, Livermore's, Victorian Christmas Fair at the invitation of their new rector, the Rev. Andy Lobban. St. Bart’s will continue this scholarship fundraising throughout Advent as part of their international outreach. Similarly, St. Timothy’s, Danville included this program in their fair trade fair featuring gifts from developing countries.

The fundraising goal the students set is $250 each — what the Haitian students pay for a semester’s tuition. Several donors have stepped forward to match their fundraising. The goal is to raise $4,000 through product sales and matching grants to fully fund 4 students through their 2-year program. 

Congregations interested in supporting this effort by selling Singing Rooster coffee, chocolate, and metal art from Haiti (and individuals interested in becoming matching donors) should contact the Missioner to Haiti, the Rev. Davidson Bidwell-Waite, davidsonbidwell@comcast.net, 415.309.3253.

The Episcopal Church has deep and long-lasting connections with Haiti. U.S. Episcopalians have a 30-year relationship with St. Barnabas Agricultural College (CASB) in Cap Haitien which is one of only a handful of post-secondary schools that serves students from across Haiti.

This junior college is a center for agriculture teaching and practical application and is vital to a nation where education is challenging: 

  • 50% of Haitian children do not attend school
  • 30% of children who do attend school, won’t see third grade
  • Another 60% abandon school before sixth grade
  • Few attend high school much less college or vocational school

Agriculture is the primary employer of developing populations. According to The World Bank, economic growth in agricultural is more than twice as effective at reducing poverty as growth in other sectors of the economy. In a country where 70% of Haitians are subsistence farmers, this is significant. Agriculture is a way of life and the best way out of poverty. Subsistent farming isn’t what Haiti needs; robust agribusinesses are required if it is to become a self-sustaining nation.

CASB’s training is a critical element of change through agriculture education, technology application, and economic development. In short, this college provides a vision of comprehensive economic development through irrigated orchards and crops, aquaponics, goats, cows, chickens, bees, and community gardens for a residential learning community of 150 students. 

St. Barnabas Agricultural College has established partnerships with local chapters of Food For The Poor, Heifer International, and the agronomy department of the Episcopal University in Port-au-Prince to solidify an integrated approach to successful agribusiness.

Congregations interested in supporting this effort by selling Singing Rooster coffee, chocolate, and metal art from Haiti (and individuals interested in becoming matching donors) should contact the Missioner to Haiti, the Rev. Davidson Bidwell-Waite, davidsonbidwell@comcast.net, 415.309.3253.