At first glance, one wouldn’t expect the Waconia area to have much in common with a far-away place like Haiti but there are actually several efforts that connect Waconia and Haiti.
For example, Freshwater Community Church in St. Bonifacius has been supporting Haitian orphans through Operation Love The Children of Haiti (OLTCH) shortly after it was founded in 2007. And after a devastating earthquake rocked the island country in January 2010, the students and families at Bayview and Southview elementary schools provided the means to rebuild and support Lott Cary School in Leogane, Haiti.
Both of these efforts might appear somewhat random, but they’re connected, too, namely through Tim Bristol, a Waconia resident, Freshwater member and nurse who periodically teaches at the Faculty of Nursing Science of the Episcopal University of Haiti (FSIL) in Leogane. He has taught in Haiti every year since 2006.
“We moved (to Waconia) in 2006 and I was the Director of Nursing when Crown started its nursing program,” Bristol said. “At the same time, the nursing program started in Leogane. A friend of a friend said, ‘Hey, contact them,’ and I did and I went down and started teaching down there.”
In the years since, Bristol has taken many nursing students and faculty from the U.S. to Haiti and brought back numerous nursing students and faculty from Haiti to the U.S. Bristol is a big believer in the value of education and has witnessed firsthand how important education is to the people of Haiti.
“If you’re illiterate in Haiti, it’s almost like a death sentence,” Bristol said. “Education is truly, if not number one, it’s number two or number three, in terms of things that can change the devastation in Haiti. A number of the nursing students, some who have a history of being homeless, truly are turning into the young leaders of their communities (thanks to the opportunities provided through the nursing school). To be able to read and write … they might be able to provide for their family. That’s why we’re so invested in improving the education there.”
Whether it’s the nursing students, the children at Lott Cary School, or the people involved with OLTCH, there are many folks in Haiti who are benefitting from a “Waconia Connection.”
To read the rest of the story, see the Feb. 28 Waconia Patriot.