Restoring Accountability in Haiti

By G. Jeffrey MacDonald

CHASKA, Minn. — After losing a multimillion-dollar gift that had been earmarked for church-related projects in Haiti, the Episcopal Church is pressuring the Diocese of Haiti to tighten up its business procedures in a bid to increase donor confidence.

“The Episcopal Church received a $5 million gift for Haiti in 2015, and the gift was withdrawn,” said Director of Development Tara Holley in her June 8 report to Executive Council. She explained that $4.3 million was revoked and the remaining $700,000 went to St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children, which is being rebuilt after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake.

St. Vincent’s and two other projects in the Diocese of Haiti rank among the Episcopal Church’s top fundraising priorities, Holley told the board. But those projects are “on pause for a few weeks,” Holley said, while procedures in Haiti undergo review.

“We are reassessing Haiti,” she said. “We are revising the MOU [memorandum of understanding with the Diocese of Haiti]. We’re looking for accountability, for transparency, for leadership, thoughtful reporting, accurate reporting, and job descriptions. We’re looking at all of these pieces of project management that will make things in Haiti run more smoothly.”

Holley spent Wednesday afternoon in a closed session of the World Mission Committee.

In addition to raising funds for St. Vincent’s, the Development Office plans to seek $9 million to $10 million for St. Barnabas Agricultural College, which needs a total of $11.7 million. One year ago, the Development Office pitched St. Barnabas as a giving opportunity with a vision. Promotional materials said, “Students and neighbors will grow their own food to enrich their diet and sell the surplus in the local markets.”

Fundraisers plan to pursue another $8 million to $10 million for Port-au-Prince’s Holy Trinity Cathedral, which was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. The site is now being prepared for reconstruction.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry explained why he asked for the pause.

“It must be done in such a way that we can engender enough confidence so that a campaign can actually get the job done,” Curry said. “I’ve asked for a pause to be placed so that it can be done right.”

Photo: Flickr / lucianf


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