St. Francis DeSales counsels us to look confidently toward the future with hope, “Let us serve God well today; God will provide for tomorrow. Each day has its own burden to bear; do not worry about tomorrow, for the same God who reigns today will reign tomorrow. And if in God’s goodness God had thought that you needed more assistance then God would have given it to you.”
We must prayerfully embrace this loving advice. Everything we need to do to get ready for the opening school day on October 6th seems overwhelming and a resurgence of violence and fighting in Cite Soleil fills us with anxiety.
In a recent phone call with one of our workers told us, “Two young men were killed yesterday in shooting between two different gangs, they are very young, and there is no leader”, he said over the phone. “These young men carry guns and rob people all over. It is a serious problem and we will need to improve the security in our schools. Many of the young students and their parents are frightened.”
All of this is very troubling and makes the work only more difficult. But we will not be discouraged. The steady prayers and support from our many friends and parishes keeps us going and helps us take each day as it comes. In the six short months since the earthquake, we’ve “righted our capsized boat”, bailed it out and are now fixing the leaks.
Re-Cap of our Earthquake Recovery Accomplishments
Sometimes it helps to just step backward and look at our overall progress and be thankful for the blessings from all our friends in the United States. Here is a brief summary of our major accomplishments since the earthquake:
- Ongoing daily water truck distributions in slum areas;
- Distributed over 220 tents to those who lost their homes;
- Ongoing mobile clinic to 5 different areas in Cite Soleil providing free medicines and health care;
- Purchase of a 3 room mobile medical unit that will bring urgent care to those who most need it;
- 5,000 Food kit distributions of rice, beans, oil and canned fish to the elderly, residents living in the Delmas and Leogone tent cities, and residents in Cite Soleil;
- Built temporary classrooms and made major repairs at 4 main campuses and reopened our schools on March 3rd – providing 4,000 students with daily meal and schooling;
- Cleared away rubble from fallen residences, constructed new offices and storage depot;
- Provided 300 HT staff with charity grants to help them with housing and other personal needs;-
- Provided construction jobs to more than 100 people in Cite Soleil.
- Drilled 16 water wells.
Many months since the earthquake and people are still living in tents and entire neighborhoods remain in rubble and unchanged. Even the National Palace and the large government buildings remain in ruins with no signs of rebuilding.
School Rebuilding - Getting Ready to Reopen
We’ve completed 80% of the major repairs at our St. Franswa H.S, St. Veronica, Pe Vollel (St Ann), Msrg Miot (St. Margaret), and Monsignor Connolly campuses. The Becky DeWine School will be restructured to reflect: 1) a Pre-school/fundamental central campus with a few satellite locations, 2) a middle school at the Pe Vollel campus, and 3) a high school at the St. Francis de Sales campus. Our goal now is to finish all rebuilding by October 6th and outfit each classroom with benches and desks. Each school needs educational supplies, students need new uniforms and we need to purchase basic text books for the middle and high school students.
This year we will focus on improving the quality of our teachers and will send U.S volunteers to conduct training seminars. We want the Becky DeWine School to shine as a place where young people receive the best Catholic Education in Haiti. A place where students never use poverty as an excuse. Our goal is to forge a collaboration with the University of Notre Dame in Port-au-Prince and use their students and graduates to elevate the quality of teaching and improve the administration. Hopefully, we can send some of our brightest graduates to Notre Dame for college education and demand two years of service from these students after they graduate. Cite Soleil desperately needs solid Catholic education. Our students live in a horrible world and can easily be swept away into a life of violence and selfishness. We need to help our students develop a spiritual approach to life where they depend on God's love and become emotionally and ethically matured through prayer, devotion, Mass, and service work. Becky DeWine school graduates will radiate a love of God and be people who look to be of service in their communities and workplaces.
Generous grants from the Digicel foundation and from Mary's Meals in Scotland will help us rebuild the St. Jane Chantal campus in Bellicous and build a new school in Wharf Jeremie.
Holy Family -S. Pasadena - Delegation and shipment of Supplies
We are deeply grateful to our good friends from Holy Family in S. Pasadena who shipped down a 40ft container filled 80 new computers and great school and medical supplies. The items are safely stored at our new Droompac warehouse and ready for our students when they return to school in October.
Each year the Holy Family Parish sends a wonderful delegation of dedicated parishioners to visit the projects and we are blessed by their commitment to the poor. We salute everyone at Holy Family and especially Karl & Kathy Holtsnider, Mary Nally, Cambria Smith, Jessica Korzenecki, George McCrimlisk, Fr. Jerry Schmit, Phill and Jane Argento, and Maria McNeil.
Rebuilding the Delmas HQ & Volunteer Center
We doubled the size of our HQ compound when we purchased the adjacent land. During September & and October we will construct:
- a parking area and mechanic garage for all vehicles and equipment;
- two 10 bed dormitories that can house our Haitian volunteers, orphans, and HT Helpers;
- seperate living quarters for our long-term volunteer community,
- Dining area and bathhouse.