The Haiti-Maine Diocesan Committee is appointed by the Bishop for the purpose of overseeing the partnership between Maine and Haiti. The Committee has a small Steering Committee which is responsible for partnership giving, non-partnership giving, and administrative duties. These committee members keep in touch with their counterparts in Haiti both on Bishop Duracin's staff and in the field. Both the Steering Committee and the General membership meet 3 or 4 times yearly. All interested persons are welcome to attend our general meetings.
History of the Maine-Haiti connection
At a time when the bonds that unite the Anglican communion are being tested, the phenomena of Companion Diocese Relationships is a way to remind us that ultimately our community is one of persons, more than institutions. What the Companion Diocese Program seeks to do is to foster enthusiasm for ministry and sharing between linked dioceses. Although we are often tempted to think of the relationship as merely a financial partnership, but it is really broader than that. Companionship goes beyond mere cultural exchange to remind us that we are one body of Christ.
The connection between Maine and Haiti began with conversations between our Bishop, Chilton Knudsen and the Bishop of Haiti, the Rt. Rev. Jean-Zache Duracin. In bringing us together both bishops responded to several unlikely similarities between our two dioceses We are both predominantly rural areas, dependent on agronomy and sustainable use of natural resources for survival. We are both places in which the French language and culture have a part. And although on somewhat different scales, we are communities in which people struggle to find work and to feed, house and clothe themselves and their families.
Haiti remains the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere. About 80% of the population lives in abject poverty, making it the second poorest country in the world. Environmental issues such as deforestation and soil erosion are at crisis levels. Only 47% of the population has access to potable drinking water. At least 50 % of Haitians are illiterate. 2/3 the population cannot be described as having any sort of regular employment. Infant mortality rates in Haiti are the highest in the hemisphere. Approximately 60% the population does not have access to primary health care, more than half do not have access to medication, 76% of all births occur without medical attention, and only one child out of two is completely vaccinated. 24,000 people a year die of AIDS in this country of 8 million. Tuberculosis and intestinal diseases are major cause of mortality. The average life span is 52, keeping in mind that the average age in Haiti is 18. Millions of children live on the streets or in institutions, orphaned or abandoned by families who cannot care for them.
Sources for Statistics:
What is the Haiti-Maine Committee?
- Parish Partnerships matching individual parishes to form long-term relationships
- Travel to Haiti to help with medical missions, teaching English, support for building projects, hospitals, orphanages, feeding programs, summer Bible camps, health education and more.
- Visits from Haitians to share music, culture and ministry; for continuing education, to educate Americans about Haiti and raise funds for ministry.
- Presence at Diocesan Events such as Convention and Convocations.
- Haitian Art Sales that support indigenous artists and raise money for partnerships and projects.
- Participation in Haiti Connection conferences that bring together Haitian lay people and clergy with Episcopalians from all over the United States who are active in ministry with Haitians.
Sending Money to Haiti
Please fill out the form linked below, save a copy for your records, and mail with your check to the Diocese at 143 State St., Portland, ME 04101.
To insure that monies arrive safely and are distributed correctly, it is essential that we have certain information on file. Please be sure that you complete a Haiti Donation Form for each transaction that the Diocesan Finance Office is processing for you.
The Partnership Program of the Diocese of Haiti is funded by a tithe of all donations received through the program. This tithe is the only source of support for this critical program. Therefore, even if you are transferring your Partnership donation through other approved secure means, it is necessary that you submit the tithe, with Donation Form, to our Finance Office.
The mission of the Haiti-Maine Committee is:
To strengthen the mission and ministries of the Dioceses of Maine (USA) and Haiti through:
- mutual understanding
- sharing of spiritual and material resources
- and the companionship of visiting one another
and to promote an awareness of and solidarity with the Episcopal Church in Haiti by providing information an educational materials to congregations in Maine.
Maine churches partnered with Haiti churches now number 14
Three more churches have been formally partnered with churches in the Diocese of Haiti, bringing the total of such partnerships within the Diocese of Maine to 14. The three new partnered churches are Christ Church, Gardiner; St. Margaret's, Belfast; and St. Mark's, Waterville. They are respectively linked with St. James Church, Morne Rosette; St. Stephen's Church and School, Limonade; and Christ King Church and School, Terrier Rouge. Christ Church will help with nutrition programs and scholarships for the children at the school in Port-de- Paix.
St Margaret's, Belfast, also hopes to help its new partner with scholarships. St Mark's has revised its weekly prayers of the people to include Christ King and Fr. Bernier, and awaits word from him as to the church and school's most urgent needs. All three Maine churches rejoice in the spiritual enrichment that will come from walking together over time with the people they will come to know in their partner churches and regions.