In Part 2 of this series, we will look at the second goal of Branch Schools, which focuses on the future of the Church in Haiti.
Goal #2: Identify children with potential to serve in ministry to be trained in the future by Pastor Rona Abraham.
Pastor Rona Abraham is the only WELS-trained pastor currently serving in Haiti. He leads several congregations across Haiti, including one in the village of Les Palmes, where the upcoming opening of the pre-k/k school will take place. Branch Schools communicates frequently with Pastor Rona as he visits the schools and provides valuable insight and updates on conditions in Haiti. We are so blessed to have his wonderful friendship!
In order for the Haitian National Lutheran Church to continue expanding in Haiti, more pastors are needed. Two young men, Schneider and Nozier, are currently learning from Pastor Rona, and Branch Schools has the pleasure of knowing both.
Schneider grew up at Yvette's orphanage, and recently conducted a confirmation service for 6 children also from Yvette's facility. He is now 20 years old and has completed his high school education, and is known for his infectious smile and enthusiasm for God's Word.
Nozier will be the head teacher at the Les Palmes pre-k/k school this fall, serving both the young children there and the village congregation. Both he and Schneider are learning as much as possible from Pastor Rona even as travel is difficult, utilizing video conferencing to continue studying while the violence and unrest rise.
Branch Schools looks forward eagerly to these two young men's future, and we thank and praise God for their hard work! Please keep Schneider and Nozier in your prayers as they prepare to share God's precious Word with many people in Haiti.
Pictured below: Schneider leading the confirmation service on June 6th, 2021.
Branch Schools is excited to launch a new monthly giving program: The Branch Roots Society!
Ongoing support is critical to the sustainability of Branch Schools' mission in Haiti. As a Grower in the Branch Roots Society, you can help ensure that no child ever has to be turned away from Branch Schools and God's Word continues to be spread across Haiti. You can sign up by going to branchlutheranschoolshaiti.org/branch-roots-society. Monthly donations of $15 or more are eligible to join the Branch Roots Society, with our recommended levels below:
Seed - $15/month = the full cost of attendance for 1 student.
Blossom - $40/month = the full cost of operations in Haiti for 1 day of your choice each year.
Fruit - $100/month = the full cost of food for 150 meals, or a meal every day for 5 orphans.
All Growers receive an exclusive bi-annual update on the schools and orphanages. New Branch Roots members who join in the month of July will be entered into a drawing for a Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti mug!
You can find all the details online, and don't hesitate to contact Branch Schools with any questions!
"I love my school...In the future, I would like to become a professional in accounting. Thank God for this school." This 8th-grader at Jeanot's school is looking forward to his future as an accountant, and Branch Schools is committed to funding the schools and helping him get there.
Will you join us?
Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti's mission includes 4 goals that emphasize a Christ-centered, holistic approach to serving the children in Haiti. In this series, we'll look at how each goal can be seen in the past year at Branch Schools.
Goal #1: Provide Lutheran education and nutrition for orphans and other under-served children in Haiti.
Since Branch Schools' beginning in 2015, providing an education built on God's Word and support for health and wellbeing have been at the forefront of the schools in Haiti. To find more details on how Branch Schools is combatting these spiritual and physical challenges, see the comparison below.
In the 2020-21 school year, many physical blessings came to Branch Schools. Yvette's orphanage and school continued to grow in enrollment, creating a need for an expanded water cistern in the fall. New solar panels were installed in the spring at Yvette's facility to bring reliable light and power. Branch Schools was granted WELS Affiliate status in October 2020, and had incredible donor support throughout a challenging year of social unrest in Haiti and COVID-19. Along with many other joys in this past year, we praise and thank God for these blessings on the work being done in Haiti!
Branch Schools has been busy over the last few months!
In March, we were blessed with the immense outpouring of support for Yvette's much-needed solar panels. In April, we had a wonderful opportunity to speak at an in-person rally for the first time since 2019. In May, we announced the upcoming opening of our fifth school in Les Palmes for preschool and kindergarten education.
What could June bring?
Here's a hint: we've been working on a letter coming to your mailbox soon, new names and designs (see below!), and even a new page for the Branch Schools website. We can't share any more information yet, but we are excited to give you all the details soon.
Follow Branch Schools on Facebook to catch another preview, and watch your inbox for the official unveiling later in June.
What are your guesses for the upcoming news? Let us know via the website or send us a message on Facebook!
To answer that question in a quick sentence: Branch Schools provides money every month to cover the operating costs of four Lutheran schools in Haiti.
More specifically, the funding we send goes towards the salaries for 30+ teachers, 4 directors, and a superintendent, nutritious snacks for the students and food for the orphans, school uniforms and supplies for the orphans, special projects, and more. This chart highlights a few of the monthly costs, but these amounts represent so much more than just numbers. For the students attending Branch Schools, when these costs are funded, it means another day of learning in their classes, another day of nutrition, and another day of hearing God's Word.
Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions about the funding to Haiti!
Branch Schools was invited to attend the Dodge/Washington Lutheran Women's Mission Society rally on April 17th in Slinger, Wisconsin, and delivered a presentation to an audience of 100 people. This presentation shared the history of Haiti and information about the Vodou religion, as well as background on the WELS involvement and founding of Branch Schools, and the current operations and ministry.
Branch Schools was represented by Lee and Linda Petersen (Chair of the Board and Special Projects Coordinator), Emily and Caleb Helmen (Development Coordinator and volunteer), and Mike Nichols (board member). Attendees were able to ask questions, visit a table of information, and take home brochures, magnets, business cards, and more.
This rally was the first public event for Branch Schools since 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are incredibly excited to begin visiting churches, schools, and rallies again to share the wonderful story of Branch Schools! Thank you to the LWMS rally for the invitation and for providing an excellent space to present.
The powerful message of God's hand at Branch Schools reached the hearts of those in attendance, and the rally raised over $1,000 for the vital work in Haiti. Praise be to God!
As Branch Schools looks forward to reaching more audiences, we are seeking more presenters! Long-distance travel still presents a challenge to Branch Schools, but there are many groups across the country that haven't heard about this amazing ministry.
To expand our capabilities for presenting, we are developing a program for volunteers who would like to represent Branch Schools in their communities. If you are interested in helping us reach more areas and becoming a volunteer, please let us know and we will make sure to keep you in the loop. Keep an eye out for more information!
If you know of a church, group, organization, or event that would be interested in hosting a
presentation from Branch Schools, we would love to hear from you! We can currently travel to most
of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the surrounding states. Email us or use our contact form online to
share your suggestions!
Branch Schools is blessed to have provided funding for the Pilate middle school since 2019, after one of the churches served by Pastor Rona requested help from Branch Schools to begin a middle school in the 2019-2020 school year. There is an amazing opportunity in Pilate to provide further education for students from the 6 elementary schools in the surrounding area, and especially to share God's Word with these children.
We are so proud of the students and the hard work they put in every day!
On March 17, Branch Schools received a series of heartwarming photos from Director Boursiquot. The pictures show three children from nine years ago as they received a health check-up, and those same children as happy and healthy students today.
Tish Meek, the nurse in the photos, is a volunteer and friend of Branch Schools. She has been to Haiti numerous times to visit the schools and provide much-needed wellness checks and medical care. Thank you, Tish!
We thank God for the immense blessings of health and growth to these precious children in Haiti!
Following recent protests, political clashes, kidnappings, and even the presidential assassination attempt in February, it is easy to look at Haiti right now and feel that there is an overwhelming shadow blocking out all light and hope. Basic necessities like food, clean water, and electricity are growing to be luxuries for many.
At Branch Schools, these struggles are experienced firsthand by the young students. High food prices and difficult traveling conditions restrict access to the meals, snacks, and cistern water delivery that Branch Schools funds. The rising danger has also forced many parents to keep their children at home for safety.
Director Yvette in Smyrne operates the largest school and orphanage of Branch Schools, with 470 students currently able to attend. For four months, she and the children have suffered a lack of electricity resulting from the extreme economic hardship affecting people all across Haiti. Yvette's electricity was provided by a private company that serviced the whole area, but her neighbors became unable to pay for their portion. Eventually, the electric company shut off the power and removed the electrical boxes, leaving the entire neighborhood--including Yvette's orphanage and school--completely without electricity. Once the sun goes down, there is no light on the premises at all. The orphans who reside there are unable to do their work and studies and the school classrooms cannot be lit.
Yvette hopes to purchase solar panels at a cost of $2,745 and install them at her school. These desperately-needed panels can eliminate the reliance on electric companies and bring light back into the orphanage and classrooms for the hundreds of children who are struggling in this darkness.
Yet, in the midst of the physical darkness across Haiti, Jesus' eternal light shines clearly. The message of salvation proclaimed at Branch Schools includes these comforting words: "Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" (John 8:12)
We thank God for His constant presence at Branch Schools and for touching the hearts of so many people who donate to keep the schools open. With your help, Branch Schools can both continue to share the saving light of God's grace and bring back the physical light to fill the darkness once again.
Will you please consider donating to Yvette's solar panel fund? If 110 people give just $25, Yvette can bring the new solar panels home today!
Please help us share this message with your friends and family! (Any donations that exceed our $2,745 goal will go directly towards the other expenses of the schools.)
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5)
Haiti made the news frequently in February, bringing attention to the growing unrest and political clashes. Protests are increasing in both frequency and intensity, reflecting the rising tensions. On February 10th, a large group of protestors took to the streets in Port-au-Prince and faced tear gas from the police. The road for Haiti to get here began five years ago, in February 2016.
According to Haiti's constitution, presidential elections are held in February and a president's term is five years. In February 2016, current president Jovenel Moise narrowly won a run-off but was unable to take office when the election was contested. It took a year for the election to be resolved, and Moise was not sworn in until February 2017.
Today, that gap year is making a big difference. Moise and his supporters claim that his term will end in February 2022 because it didn't begin until 2017. His opponents argue that Moise should step down now because he won the election originally in 2016. Calls for Moise to end his term began in early February and quickly turned violent in an assassination attempt on February 7.
All of the uncertainty, division, and unrest has brought tensions to a breaking point. There are gangs moving throughout Haiti robbing anyone they can, especially those carrying cash, but they face no consequences. It is not safe to travel, restricting food trucks from making deliveries and sending food prices skyrocketing. Schools were closed for over a week in February out of concern for the safety of children amidst kidnappings.
Branch Schools also closed temporarily to protect the students. The three schools in the Port-au-Prince area, where much of the protesting is occurring, remained closed longer than expected--a little over a week. The Pilate middle school was able to reopen sooner due to being in a safer area. The increasing difficulty of buying and receiving food deliveries has also affected Branch Schools, which provides nutritious snacks to students at Carrefour and Smyrne and a full meal to every orphan.
We thank God for His protecting hand on Branch Schools and pray that the tensions and danger in all of Haiti will cease soon, and ask for your continued prayers as well. We know that God is watching over Haiti and He has a plan. These difficult times are also an opportunity for us to share the comfort and healing found in God's Word, and we are happy that school has resumed so that the children at Branch Schools continue to receive this spiritual nourishment. Please don't hesitate to contact Branch Schools with any questions!
Emily Helmen, Development Coordinator
Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti, Inc.
Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti, Inc.