"For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
- Jeremiah 29:11
Haiti is a small country that occupies one-third of the island of Hispaniola. Its neighbor, the Dominican Republic, occupies the rest of the island. Haiti is the poorest and most densely-populated country in the Western Hemisphere.
If you have been fortunate enough to visit Haiti, you know the Haitian people have great faith in God and a wondrous gift of Hope. Many people visit Haiti thinking this will be a one-time trip and, to their amazement, discover that their first visit becomes a lifetime journey.
Our ministry, Outreach to Haiti, has steadfastly walked with our brothers and sisters in Haiti for four decades and has witnessed the tribulations endured and the hope that shines during trying times. We have discovered that we receive more than we give. While our programs and services allow us to share our faith and let God’s great love shine through us, Haitians have taught us the importance of and need for hope.
Hope is given through the gift of education. Each year friends and donors help us to provide scholarships to approximately 200 young people to attend primary, secondary and post-secondary schools. Like the United States, Haitian schools face many challenges because of the pandemic that began in the last school year and carried into the current one.
Unlike the United States, Haitians face other tribulations but keep their hope, as noted in a recent reflection by Mezalus Emil, our director of education.
“Students are continuing with their studies despite the political situation, kidnappings, and Covid-19; and they continue to earn good grades.” He went on to say how thankful he is that “from November when our students started going to school until now, none of our students or their parents have ever been victims because of insecurity. They have already been protected. It is a blessing from God. All the employees have been protected as well. All glory is to God.”
Hope is given through much-needed medical care and food: We give hope through our Medical Clinic, Food and Nutritional Supplements Program, and Community Outreach Healthcare Services. When a mother seeks nutritional supplements for her severely malnourished baby, she knows she can come to us. When parents are in dire need of food for their loved ones, they can count on us to help. When family members are in need of medical care, our doctors treat them.
Hope is shared with women who need to support their families. We help them to develop their self-confidence, identify their inner strengths, learn business basics and establish their own micro-entrepreneurial businesses.
Hope is multiplied through our Twinning Program established by parishes in our diocese that foster relationships with parishes in Haiti. These relationships are built on a foundation of faith and hope and expanded to include parishes in other dioceses in the United States and Haiti.
Hope is evident in our new three-story building that is near completion and replaces the one destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. This new building signals our intent, God willing, to serve another 40 years.
There are lessons here for all of us. Haitians know God loves them by sending people to help them. We are learning to “Love our neighbors as ourselves.” While all of us have been affected by the pandemic, we are learning through our Haitian friends to move forward and always keep hope.
All of us would do well to heed Jeremiah (29:11) as we continue our journey in life, "For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
If you would like to learn more about our work, please visit us at Outreachtohaiti.org or call us at 860-800-3603.
By Susan Wallace