In 2012, Episcopal Academy forged an unlikely relationship with an Episcopal school thousands of miles away.
St. Marc's School sits on top of a mountain in Cerca, Haiti. When asked why this school, in such a remote location, was selected, Head Chaplain Tim Gavin says, "That is where we were needed."
Five years later, the school has been transformed from a stone and dirt-floor structure with no roof, to a multi-classroom building with a roof, benches for students, solar panels, water purification system, and one workable toilet.
"The generosity of the EA community has changed the lives of the families and students in Cerca," said Father Tim. "The EA-St. Marc's relationship is also impacting the lives of EA students and their families."
"The positive attitude that the people in Haiti have, despite having so little, is inspiring and infectious," observed Katie Foster '17.
It is a four-hour trek up dry and rocky terrain to reach St. Marc's. Eighteen EA students, parents, faculty, and staff made the trip in April for the third annual medical trip.
"On the first day, I was in charge of taking the patients' vitals, which I loved because it gave me the chance to meet everyone and spend a few minutes with them one-on-one," shared Nina Petillo '19.
The team provided eye, dental, and general medical exams and has implemented a system for medical files. "With the records, we will be able to gather vital statistics, which can be helpful in analyzing the health trends of the people," said Father Tim. "The information can also be used as data required for grant applications."
Dr. Joe Kelly performed more than fifty teeth extractions. Dr. Meagan Werner P '22, '25, '25 saw hundreds of patients ranging from babies to the elderly. Many of the older patients have cataracts, so plans are in the works to partner with a medical clinic in Cange, Haiti for treatment.
"There were many people who walked hours and hours to come see a doctor, and when they finally arrived, they had to wait for even longer. They all looked very tired and exhausted, but they never complained or asked to be moved to the front of the line," shared Nitya Ampani '19.
"Sadly most of the symptoms we record result from malnutrition and dehydration," explained Father Tim. "With a water purification system now in place, we may see a decrease in people suffering from digestive parasites."
Plans are also in the works for a working farm that will provide sustainable and consistent food for the community.
"The beauty of the medical clinic trip is that it is a collaborative effort in which faculty, students, and parents work together on a common mission to bring health care to our neighbors who otherwise would not have it," said Father Tim. "We have had a wonderful five-year relationship with St. Marc's. We are looking forward to another productive five years with the people of Cerca."
"The the most amazing aspect of our program is you can go back multiple times and gain a better outlook and perspective each time you return," said Ann Elisabeth Rau '19. "This allows us to strengthen and continue the relationships with the children of St. Marc's and the EA students and teachers that you travel with."
Faculty/Staff: Kathleen Foster P '17, '17, '18, Father Tim Gavin, Hon., Steve Muir, Hon., Gloria Lopez
Parents: Matty Dandapani P '21, '24, Jackie Hershey P '25, '18, Andrew Rau P '19, Julieann Shanahan P '26, '28, Dr. Megan Werner P '22, '25, '25,
Students: Nitya Ampani '19, Katie Foster '17, Kaila and Skylar Lingo '19, Nina Petillo '19, Ann Elisabeth Rau '19, Grace Szafara '19
Dr. Joe Kelly also made the trip to provide dental services.