When Katie Royer (at right, shown here with workcamp coordinator Jeanne Davies) left this week for Haiti, 250 Beanie Babies went along. She filled two large suitcases with the stuffed animal toys, in order to give one to each of 200-plus children at the New Covenant School in St. Louis du Nord, Haiti.
Royer is one of two women from the Elgin, Ill., area who is part of a week-long workcamp in Haiti, June 1-8. A student at Arcadia University in Pennsylvania, she is back home in Elgin for the summer. She traveled to Haiti with Jeanne Davies of West Dundee, who coordinates the workcamp ministry of the Church of the Brethren.
Family and friends have been helping Royer collect the Beanie Babies since she made the decision to attend the workcamp. A total of 500 toys have been donated to the effort, but Royer can fit only half in the two suitcases she is allowed to check for free on the airplane. She is still working out where to donate the other half of the toys she has received.
The workcamp in Haiti is specifically for young adults. The full group includes 19 young adults from across the United States, 2 young adults from Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Haitian Church of the Brethren) in Port-au-Prince, and directors Michaela and Ilexene Alphonse, church members from Florida who founded New Covenant School.
The school is currently housed in a rented property but is in the process of constructing a new school building. Workcamp participants are working alongside members of the community on the new building, and also leading crafts and games at a Vacation Bible School.
St. Louis du Nord is a day’s drive north of Port-au-Prince and was not affected by the January earthquake. However, along with disaster response and crisis intervention, there also is a need for longterm mission in Haiti. One way the Church of the Brethren is attempting to do this is through support of education.
Although there are some public schools in Haiti, 90 percent of primary schools are private. Even in public schools, the cost of fees, uniforms, and books is too expensive for the families of many Haitian children. New Covenant School was founded to give neighborhood children the opportunity of a basic education. The school also holds Christian education classes on Sundays.
For more about the church’s workcamp ministry, click here.