One EMAS Haiti project, called Hand in Hand with Haiti, is a partnership between EMAS Canada and the El Shaddai Church community in Port-au-Prince. It has four major areas of focus:
- A Preschool, Primary and Middle School program that offers its students and staff a cooked meal every school day
- An annual health care teaching team (including medical and nursing students), providing primary healthcare and dental services since 2004
- An earthquake and hurricane resistant construction project, in partnership with Engineering Ministries International (eMi), which includes a large community gathering space, two school buildings, a large kitchen, a water tower, flush toilet facilities, potable water, and a nearby healthcare clinic
- Public engagement events here in Canada, which focus on raising both awareness and funds.
By working ‘hand in hand’ with the El Shaddai Church community to Build Better than Before, this project provides a beacon of hope, that points to a better future for this Haitian neighbourhood.
In 1982, Dr. Pierre Plourde visited Haiti as a medical student with the help of an EMAS-sponsored practicum. His Creole language tutor was Saint Hilaire Faniel. Through two more visits and correspondence the relationship blossomed.
In 1993, the new seminary graduate, Pasteur Saint Hilaire established El Shaddai Church and within a year, the community started a supplemental nutrition program for the neighbourhood children. In 2005, Imago Dei Primary School was established with 3 kindergarten classes (3, 4, and 5 year olds); Grades 1 through 8 has been added since. EMAS Canada continues to support this program monthly.
Saint Hilaire’s leadership and selflessness were truly inspirational but tragically, Saint Hilaire was murdered in the course of a break-in at his apartment in December 2008. The El Shaddai church honours his memory by continuing the work and vision of Saint Hilaire.
To make room for growing ministries, land was acquired in 2005 by El Shaddai Church to build a Community Ministry Centre. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, eMi met with the community elders to design an affordable earthquake & hurricane resistant ministry centre that would include a large community gathering space, a primary school, and a community health clinic.
In spite of political and economic upheaval making any initiative in Haiti extremely challenging, EMAS Canada has supported efforts of the El Shaddai Church since 1996 and Dr. Pierre Plourde has been leading EMAS Healthcare Teams to Haiti since 2004. Throughout this time the El Shaddai Church has remained a beacon of light in the midst of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
2021: The eMi construction project for the El Shaddai Community Centre has been completed and includes a large community gather space (serving as a church, youth centre, school assembly hall, and hurricane/disaster relief shelter), a primary/middle school (2 buildings), a large kitchen, and a sanitation building with flush toilet facilities and access to portable water. All buildings are wheelchair accessible on their ground floors.
In the last couple of years an agriculture project has added green space to the spaces around the Community Centre, including gardens that supply fruits and vegetables to the school kitchen.
Current projects for 2021 – 2022 include kitchen renovations to convert from charcoal burning stoves to propane burners, and establishment of a fish farm to create a sustainable source of protein for the school kitchen. Many thanks to the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC) for supporting these projects for over a decade through the Manitoba Government Matching Grant Program (MGMGP).
Donations are always welcome to continue supporting the school operations and the ongoing community development projects.
You can Help Haiti Build Better than Before by supporting the El Shaddai Church with a financial gift.
The following are examples of what your donation can make possible:
• $50 funds one student for one month at Imago Dei Primary/Middle School.
• $125 will provide a hot meal for all of the students and staff at Imago Dei School
• $500 covers the cost of a full year of education and meals for one child at Imago Dei School
TEAM LEADERS: Dr. Pierre Plourde and Ms. Krista Waring