OUR EXCITING HAITI MISSION
2017 TRIP TO HAITI WAS A GREAT BLESSING FOR ALL
A group from St. Matthew and St. Bernard visited Haiti in January 2017. It was a very full and fruitful trip.
We visited our twin Parish, St. Pierre, and the school we established, in Ganthier, Haiti. Over several days, we discussed their needs, played games with the people, and brought clothing, candy and various gifts for the children. Some travelers were even guests in the local radio program.
We also visited L'Arc-En-Ciel orphanage and The Wynne Farm, where St. Matthew has been leading a sweet potato farming initiative across Haiti. We even had the opportunity to taste a variety of foods prepared from the crops!
We also visited Mother Teresa's convent and hospital and fed and comforted young children who are suffering and are at risk of death. But picture taking wasn't permitted. Plus we visited a clinic the Diocese of Norwich helped establish, the clinic that the Norwich Diocese runs, and a school managed by the Salesian Fathers. We also toured Papillon, a business founded by a woman who had adopted a child, only to learn that the child had parents who couldn't afford to provide for their child -- and her business now provides jobs for 200 people to help them provide for their families. Of paricular interest, she purposefully makes mugs and other items out of the mud that poor pregnant women use to make mud cakes to satisfy their hunger. She also runs a beautiful cafe, where patrons can get a free smoothie, if they purchase a mug.
ST. MATTHEW & ST. BERNARD IN SOLIDARITY WITH OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS AROUND THE WORLD
As Catholics, we're well aware that we're called to care for the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, and the homeless -- and to live in Solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world. Perhaps nowhere in the world is our tangible love needed more than in Haiti. Members of the Catholic Community of St. Matthew and St. Bernard have long supported Haiti with love, travel visits, educational support, food, supplies, toys and more.
If you have been involved in this ministry -- directly or indirectly -- you've helped affect a significant change in the lives of many. Thank you. This really is a life-transforming ministry! If you haven't been involved in our Haiti ministry, we invite you to participate in this incredible journey in whatever manner you'd care to participate -- ideally utilizing your unique passions and gifts! Please read on to learn about our rich heritage and what the ministry is doing now.
Throughout the years, we have shipped many barrels full of food, clothing, computers, school furniture (thanks in large part to St. Bernard parish) and more. In fact, we even shipped a pick-up truck to Haiti. Many church members have also participated in our annual "Christmas in October" celebration, where we collect presents during Mass and ship them to the children of Ganthier, Haiti. (What a joy it is for the children who receive the presents!)
During our trips there, we have held precious orphans, visited the sick and comforted the dying. We have also been with our Haitian community as they suffered through catastrophies and after they endured the death of their dear priest, Father Malbrache.
THE NEED IS SO GREAT!
The need for the Catholic Community of St. Matthew and St. Bernard to continue supporting Haiti has become more pressing than ever.
Haiti has long been the poorest, most under-developed nation in our hemisphere. More recently, the 10 million people living in Haiti have had to endure both a massive earthquake in 2010, and a devastating hurricane in 2016.
(Photo credits, lower two photos: New York Times)
Through these back-to-back calamities, the difficulties the Haitians have had to endure because of impoverishment were compounded by the repeated tragedies of death, distruction and illness. In fact, just before Hurricane Matthew, the country was reportedly experiencing the worst hunger crisis in more than 15 years. And now, Hurricane Matthew has destroyed a large portion of their agriculture and livestock. It also damanged critical infrastructure, water and eletricity service, sanitation systems, homes, businesses, government offices and healthcare facilities.
It's bad enough that the hurricane brought about the pain of losing loved ones once again, but now, both Cholera and a severe lack of food pose a real threat of severe hunger, mass sicknesses and even more deaths. The people of Haiti continue to need our love and support. Emergency resources such as water purification tablets and filters, clothing, and non-perishable food supplies are desperately needed.
YOU CAN HELP BRING THE LOVE OF JESUS TO THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE OF HAITI
But the Haitians are resilient and faith-filled people who love our Lord and express so much appreciation whenever others reach out to them. At St. Matthew, we've seen first-hand the tremendous impact of our twinning with St. Pierre parish in Ganthier; of our help building their school; of our just being there and simply showing that we care; of our providing much needed material and financial support; and of our most recent efforts helping groups of villagers and various organizations across Haiti with sweet potato farming.
We would encourage everyone to join with us as we continue this much-needed support.
JOIN IN "TWINNING" WITH ST. PIERRE IN GANTHIER, HAITI
There is a wonderful Diocesan “Twinning Program” in which parishes and other groups in the United States formally create a formal, supportive and mutually beneficial relationship with parishes in the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince. With the tremendous support of the Norwich Diocese's Outreach To Haiti organization, members from several Connecticut parishes regularly visit Haiti, get to know the needs facing Haitian people and parishes, and work to help address those needs. St. Matthew embarked on this journey back in the nineties and has been joyfully supporting the St. Pierre parish in Ganthier, Haiti, ever since. (You can learn more about the Outreach To Haiti organization here: http://outreachtohaiti.org/)
Just as being a twin in life can provide such a uniquely close, intensely supportive and extremely enriching life experience, being a "twinned" parish brings wonderful opportunities for truly caring about, learning from, growing with, and supporting one another -- and having fun, too!
SUPPORTING HAITI'S PRIORITY NEED FOR QUALITY EDUCATION AND MORE
One of the best ways to make an immediate and lasting impact is to support the education of Haiti's youth. A significant part of the twinning relationship between St. Pierre and the Catholic Community of St. Matthew and St. Bernard is our support for education, including building and staffing a school, providing teacher salaries, providing food for meals, contributing much-needed school supplies, and more.
Over the years, the school at St. Pierre has grown dramatically. The school began in 1998, with classes held in the balcony of the church. A grant from the Vatican enabled St. Pierre to build its first school building, and multiple buildings have been added since, in part through the support of St. Matthew. There were 45 students at the start. Today, approximately 500 children are receiving a quality education. Throughout the years, many students have advanced to college and professional careers!
Please consider making a recurring pledge to our Haiti Mission to support the St. Pierre school, or please consider making a one-time gift.
To support pressing needs (and our parish's financial commitment), any contribution would go a long way and woudl be greatly appreciated. The following are examples of specific needs for which related contributions would make a real difference at the school and in the lives of so many children:
$240 will support one STUDENT per year;
$2,400 will support one TEACHER per year;
$5,000 will support an entire CLASS per year.
The St. Pierre parish and school complex also needs a well to help make up for the loss of a river that was once providing water at the property but has recently dried up. Contributions toward this incredible need would be greatly appreciated.
Recurring donations to help purchase food, school supplies and medical supplies would be helpful as well. In fact, not long ago, the goverment stopped its food program for the schools, causing many children to go to school and home each day without eating. So donations for food will bless many children.
ADDRESSING HUNGER AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WITH "SMART," SMALLHOLDER SWEET POTATO FARMING
In a more recent facet of our twinning, St. Matthew has developed a "smart," sweet potato farming initiative in collaboration with the Global Institute For Transformation (GIFT), a ministry founded by St. Matthew parishioners. (Did you know the sweet potato is considered "The Mother Teresa Of Foods," due to its impact on starvation and economic development?)
Given that hunger across Haiti reached historic levels in 2016 -- even before so many crops and livestock were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew -- this project is critically needed.
Our sweet potato farming program is designed to not only help us address hunger and enable economic development in many places througout Haiti, it is also designed to serve as a model to be replicated across other parishes in their twinning efforts. (Interestingly, this effort has even been extended into the African nation of Malawi, working with the Daughters of Wisdom religious order, through family connections of another St. Matthew parisioner. Daughters of Wisdom also has a convent in Haiti, and the plan is to involve the Sisters here as well.)
This initiative is consistent with strategies advocated by CRS, Maryknoll, USAID, Skoll and other relief organizations, which stress the need to help villagers develop "smallholder" farms. Pope Francis even prayed for smallholder farmers earlier this year!
The project includes tailored "smart farming" technology which St. Matthew and GIFT developed in collaboration with the Poznan Supercomputing & Networking Center, Poland. (Importantly, the encyclical Caritas In Veritate encouraged the use of farming innovations, and our parish community is very blessed to be able to work with these incredible technology people and resources.) We're also building a collaboration in Haiti with the Wynne Farm, La Maison l'Arc-en-Ciel orphanage, University of Fondwa, the Association of the Peasants of Fondwa, Fonkoze micro-lending and the Partners In Mission religious order.
The initiative is just starting to produce its first harvests; some plants are still growing; and more planting is already underway! Unfortunately, some crops suffered from the extreme weather Haiti experenced this year, highlighting the need for much more planting and for other forms of hunger relief that can get much-needed food to the Haitian people immediately. (Note: St. Matthew recently held an emergency fundraising breakfast and raised over $3,000 to support Haiti in dealing with the effects of Hurricane Matthew.)
For more information on this pretty sweet project, please check out the video to the right and visit the web portal: http://giftsmartfarming.psnc.pl/. You might even encourage all the tech-savvy youth you know to engage in this effort!
GET INVOLVED IN ALL THE HAITI FUN!!!
For more information about all the exciting ways you can join the Catholic Community of St. Bernard and St. Matthew in supporting our brothers and sisters in Haiti, please contact John Bouley at (860) 875-4999 or JTBOULEY@aol.com. Or look for Haiti committee meeting information and periodic updates in the bulletin.
If you've been thinking of helping financially, please remember no contribution is too small. Rather EVERY contribution makes a HUGE difference. Any and all donations would be most helpful -- to the children; to those who are hungry; to our twin parish; to the school; to the farmers; to the clinics; and to so many of our brothers and sisters in Haiti.
If you'd like to make a donation to support our overall Haiti efforts or any specific initiatives referenced here, please make your check out to St. Matthew and place "Haiti Mission" on the memo line; please specify any intended purpose for the donation; and please give the check to Father Rick. Or simply mark an envelope for the "Haiti Mission," and drop it in the collection basket.
MESI ANPIL. (THANK YOU VERY MUCH!) TANPRI, LAPRIYE POU NOU. (PLEASE PRAY FOR US.)