Those of you who have been fortunate to visit Haiti know firsthand that on the surface it looks beautiful and peaceful in many areas.
This belies the fact that the Haitian people have seen more than their fair share of challenges, especially the January 12, 2010 earthquake that killed approximately 250,000 men, women and children.
As Haitians mark the ten-year anniversary of this terrible tragedy, they again are facing major political unrest, but what is noteworthy is the indomitable spirit of the Haitian people. It’s a spirit filled with joy and hope reflecting their faith in God. The Diocese of Norwich Outreach to Haiti has been working in Haiti for more than 38 years.
The mission of Outreach is “Helping Haitians Help Haitians,” which is why we employ 21 men and women to manage Outreach’s ministry and programs that include a medical clinic, health care, food and nutrition, and education sponsorships that annually help more than 200 students earn an education in primary, secondary and post-secondary schools.
If you have ever wondered whether our efforts in Haiti make a difference, consider the following. In 1982 approximately 35 percent of Haitians were literate, but today, in 2020, more than 60 percent of the population can read. As more Haitians become educated, they will have more opportunities to have a voice in their government and civil society. I remain convinced that education is the key to helping young people in Haiti discover their God-given talents and to help the country develop into a successful and peaceful nation.
Four of our new students attending university in Haiti give hope to all of us. Faelle is 19 and attends Notre Dame D’Haiti University. She has two brothers and a sister, and after graduation is looking to create her own business to help disadvantaged people, especially children. Ralph is 19 and attends Quisqueya University, where he is majoring in civil engineering. He wants to help families in poverty by creating construction companies and jobs.
Litaicha Michaella is 19 and one of five children. Her mother has had breast cancer and her father doesn’t have a good job. She attends IHECE and would like “to help other people in need.” Nineteen-year-old Jean is one of eight children and is majoring in computer science at ESIH. He wants to help his family, friends and fellow Haitians.
These young people help to put a face on all the young people in Haiti, where more than 51 percent of the population is under 25 years of age. They reflect the hard work, intelligence and passion of many of their peers. Haiti, like all countries, will see its future leadership coming from the ranks of the young.
Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying: "A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started. He is going to sit where you are sitting, and when you are gone; attend to those things, which you think are important. You may adopt all policies you please, but how they are carried out depends on him. He will assume control of your cities, states and nations. All your books are going to be judged, praised or condemned by him. The fate of humanity is in his hands."
God’s plan includes our helping each other and doing good when and where we can. Thank you for helping us to give young people in Haiti the opportunity to contribute to building a better nation.
-- By Susan Wallace