Remembering Paul Sigmund, HT Trustee

A note from HT Chairman regarding Paul's passing:

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. This afternoon we received word of the sad passing of Paul E. Sigmund who was one of the longest standing Hands Together Trustees and a tireless friend and supporter of the organization for over two decades.  Paul's dedication and support of Hands Together will be sorely missed, as will his friendship and guidance.

April 28, 2014 - A local Princeton Pulbication Notice on Paul's Death

January 14, 1929 - April 27 2014

January 14, 1929 - April 27 2014

Paul E. Sigmund, husband of the former Princeton Borough mayor Barbara Sigmund, died this morning at the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro due to complications from pneumonia, family friends confirmed. He was 85.

Sigmund was a professor of politics at Princeton University. His scholarship focused on political theory and comparative politics. He wrote numerous books and articles on Latin American politics with a focus on income inequality, multinationals and the military. He is the author of “The Ideologies of the Developing Nations”, “Natural Law in Political Thought, The Overthrow of Allende and the Politics of Chile, 1974-1976,” and “Liberation Theology at the Crossroads.” He was the translator and editor of the Norton Critical Edition of “St. Thomas Aquinas on Politics and Ethics.” He also co-authored several other books.

He began teaching at Princeton in 1963 and helped found the school’s program in Latin American Studies. He served as the program director for seven years. He was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars and the Institute for Advanced Study, and received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation.

l to r: Paul Sigmund with fellow HT trustees, Tom Gilligan and John Clarke visiting our school in Ti Desdunnes Haiti.

l to r: Paul Sigmund with fellow HT trustees, Tom Gilligan and John Clarke visiting our school in Ti Desdunnes Haiti.

He served on the boards of Georgetown University and the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, and was an active member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2001 he was the first American academic to receive the Bernardo O’Higgins Order of Merit, awarded by the Chilean government for outstanding accomplishment.

Sigmund earned his doctorate from Harvard University, where he taught for four years before coming to Princeton. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University.

Hands Together loses an incredible friend and trustee

"Paul joined our board in 2006 and brought to us his remarkable compassion, love for the poor and profound understanding of the Church. I was humbled by his willingness to get on a bus and spend 4 hours traveling to Ithaca to speak at a Catholic parish on our behalf. When visiting Haiti, it seemed that he was the first one out of bed, and the last one to retire - his energy was incredible. We will never forget Paul." - Doug Campbell

Remembrance of Paul

From family, friends, colleagues, students, and all who were touched by the life of Paul E. Sigmund:

Stephen Sigmund -Paul's youngest son:

Princeton was so meaningful to him because he was a teacher throughout his life more than anything else, and this was a warm and welcoming community to him ...He was so grateful that he could teach to and learn from so many generations of Princeton students. After my mother died, he had a supportive intellectual community to help him. He was somebody who really wanted to talk to you about interesting things, talk to you about your life and share the learning experience. People walked away from a conversation with him knowing more and feeling better than they did walking into the conversation. He had students and professors living with him on the third floor of our house for 20 years after our mother died because he wanted people to have dinner with and have intellectual conversations with ...You never walked away from a conversation with him feeling like you were belittled or put down, but rather like you were listened to and heard.

click here for a pdf file with all the remembrances:  Paul Sigmund Remembrances

Launching the Hands Together/Archdiocese of PAP Music School

In mid-April we broke ground on the construction of the HT/PAP Archdiocese  Monseigneur Charles Benoit Music School.

In mid-April we broke ground on the construction of the HT/PAP Archdiocese  Monseigneur Charles Benoit Music School.

"There are very few programs and even fewer schools dedicated to teaching and performing music. It's really hard to believe in a country so filled with artistic ability. Our dream is to build a school dedicated just to music, and develop the God-given talents of our students and the students in the Port-Au-Prince Archdiocesan schools. This school will provide the training and organizing of select students who demonstrate the talent and willingness to learn and perform music. Students from the Becky DeWine School and the dozens of diocesan middle and high schools shall be eligible for these programs. In the not too distant future we look forward to inviting musicians from the U.S. to come and mentor and perhaps even perform a school concert with our students!" says Doug Campbell, executive director of Hands Together.

Music school basic  design

Music school basic  design

Fr. Brillere Aupont, Port-au-Prince's Diocesan School Director, brought the idea of the Msgr. Benoit Music School to Fr. Tom and Doug Campbell in late October, explaining that the diocese secured the land and found teachers for the school but lacked the funding and sponsorship to make it happen. We offered to fund the project and join hands with the Archdiocese to bring music into the lives of our students.

music school foundation

music school foundation

"Music is a gift from God," says Fr. Tom. "It can do so much to heal divisions, to reduce conflict, to teach harmony and cooperation with one another. These are the greatest challenges that face our students and their families and we believe that music can be a great tool for combating jealousy, poor self esteem and discouragement. Music is hope."

Building the School

The school is located next to the St. Yves Parish on Delmas 5. The building contains 6 classrooms, offices, performance auditorium and large gathering spaces.

  • Basic Constructions Cost:   $127,000
  • Wiring/lighting/electric/generator:   $57,999
  • Plumbing:   $9800

Operating the School

Thanks to the hard work from Hayward Rigano, (an HT volunteer who visited Haiti with a delegation from Holy Family Parish in S. Pasadena), we've started collecting many of the musical instruments needed to equip the students. Here is a list of needed instruments:

classroom layout of the school

classroom layout of the school

  1. Violins: 150 various sizes, 150 Viola Alto various sizes

  2. Cellos: 90 (various sizes)

  3. Contrebasses : 22

  4. Guitars 90 (various sizes)

  5. Harpe - 8

  6. Piccolo - 20

  7. Clarinette - 35

  8. Flute - 35

  9. Basoon - 25

  10. Haute Bois - 25

  11. Trumpet - 35

  12. Trombone - 30

  13. Saxophone 30 tenor, 30 alto, 30 soprano

  14. Tuba - 25

  15. Marimba - 4

  16. Xylophone - 6

  17. Bass drum - 10

  18. Snare drum - 4

  19. Timpani - 7

  20. Cymbals - 6

  21. Bariton - 15

  22. Elicon - 12

  23. Piano - electric, baby grand, uprights - 15

top view of music school

top view of music school

Staffing - a complete faculty would include over 40 teachers. We realize this may take some time to build, but we identified all the needed staff and appropriate wages. Monthly cost for full staffing, $30,000 x 8 months $240,000.

Marys Meal Tribute 2014

This video highlights Hands Together's school feeding made possible through the the generous funding from Mary's Meals.

Dizzying Scope - A snap shot of Haiti

We are pleased to introduce a new video that summarizes our projects in Haiti. We salute Karl Holtsnider, Dan Bruich, and Ken Buckowski for putting together this professional piece.

Photos: Christmas in Haiti 2013

Here are some images of activities during the Christmas season this year in Haiti

Becky DeWine School's First Graduation Ceremony

This past July 4th, we held a graduation ceremony for our Becky DeWine school's first graudating class of 129 students.

DeWine at Graduation.jpg

Without the dedicated efforts of Fran and Mike DeWine and our DeWine family of donors, we would not be able to share this good news. Both were present at the ceremony and Attorney General Dewine gave the closing address.

Mary McCarty, staff writer for the Dayton Daily News, who has written much on Hands Together, talked with the DeWine's on their experience. You can find her complete article here.

The ceremony was presented by Bishop Mesidor WaWa (Diocese of Fort-Liberte) and contributions were provided Bishop Yves Marie Peon (Diocese of Gonaives).

Fr. Tom Hagan, president of Hands Together, delivered a message to the graduates and parents discussing the great mile stone these children have achieved and reminded the gradutes of the fundamental belief that they are truly loved by God.

haiti graduation.jpg

Doug Campbell, executive director, spoke about the long journey and many challenges he has faced with this class:

"From the creation of the school to surviving the earthquake, hurricanes, cholera outbreaks, and the everyday violence of Cite Soleil you have formed a community in God’s love."

Doug explained that the "time for receiving was coming to an end and the time for giving has begun." He has implored the graduates as they continue their successful journey that they always remember where they came from and the support and hope Hands Together has brought them, and reminded them they are always welcomed members of the Hands Together family.

Attorney General of Ohio Mike DeWine gave the closing address.

Hands Together 2013 Annual Review Booklet Is Available

Our 2013 Annual Report is now available in PDF format. Click here to download.

The Hands Together 2013 Annual Report provides the most current information on our work in Haiti. It's a great summary of the work that began 28 years ago and a testimony to the sacrifice, commitment, and vision of Fr. Tom Hagan, Hands Together Founder and President. We hope that by sharing a little of our story with you will strengthen the bond between the many struggling people of Haiti and all of you who have done so through your prayers and support. Most of all we wish to leave you with an honest, accurate, glimpse at the harsh reality of work with the poor.

Table of Contents:

A note from Fr. Tom -pg 3

About Hands Together-pg 4

The Becky DeWine School - pg 5

Keeping it all running -P-au-P - pg 9

The Reality of Cite Soleil - pg 10

Other P-au-P outreach programs - pg 12

Outreach beyond P-au-P, HTG Projects- pg 16

Keeping it all running-HTG - pg 22

Donor Support - pg 23

Catholic Mission Appeal Support - pg 24

Financial Summary - pg 25

Trustees - pg 28

Top Ten Needs - pg 29

2013 Lenten Update

Police provide security at a Becky DeWine Campus

Wherever the very poor are, that is where we will be. We will follow them and stand alongside them.” Fr. Tom said in response to questions about long-term planning from a recent visiting delegation from the United States. This, of course, is not our entire long-term approach, but it truly reflects our spirituality and mission when considering what we are doing in Haiti. And it is the foundation upon which all our projects rest.

Fr. Tom, in a moment of honesty summed up his feelings about working in Haiti, 'I don't like it here in Haiti and I never did but I am not ready yet to "throw in the towel". I have a dream that our schools will be good examples to others of what education should be. I still have a dream that our schools will be extremely clean and orderly, with many good programs and activities. This dream keeps me getting up each day and it also keeps me thinking young."

Fr Tom says mass at our HQ for U.S. visitors

As "Carnival" ends, marking the beginning of Lent, our students returned to their classes, today - February 14th, after a few days off. We have set many goals for this Lenten journey, hoping to purify and simplify things within ourselves and within our projects. As Fr. Tom writes, 'There is so much here to do. I am setting up a teacher's committee, with representatives chosen by their peers, in hopes that we can have a system for dialogue and for resolving grievances and conflicts. I will be working on modified contracts that require teachers to assist in classroom and cafeteria monitoring, something we really need as there is too much disorder now. I am trying to set realistic goals for each day!"

Becky DeWine School News

Hands Together's Becky DeWine School contains 5,000 students dispersed among 8 separate campuses in 7 different neighborhoods. All of the locations are considered part of Haiti's largest and poorest slum, Cite Solei, where the poverty and violence make it impossible to really implement any consistent programs. Here is a recent email from Fr. Tom to Doug Campbell about the typical daily situation he faces in Cite Soleil, "Yesterday, we had to close two schools early because of all the shooting. It has intensified over the past two days as two wars are going on simultaneously. Solei 19 against Ti Haiti and bran Neuf against Druillard. Two who were shot are participants in our Dismas program. If it keeps up, we wont have to pay any salaries to these guys because they will all be shot." It is with this constant instability and unrest that we open the gates of our campuses each day - praying for God to help us through another day.

Here are some of the recent programs and needs for the January - June school term:

H.S. seniors listen to a talk from Sen and Fran DeWine - Feb 2013

St Franswa High School

The violence and threats to our staff and students that plagued us in October and November decreased significantly, thanks in large part to our outreach to the local gangs through our special "Dismas" project that combines labor, studies and spiritual development among young people enmeshed in gang life. The real challenges at the high school are with the staff and administration. It is hard to find qualified teachers and administrators who are willing to enter Cite Soliel. Some of this year's notable accomplishments include:

  • books and uniforms submitted to all students;
  • a hearty daily meal for all students and staff, thanks to Mary's Meals;
  • started a student government that involves the upper-class students in special activities and study sessions;
  • created a parent/community leader committee that meets regularly to discuss and respond to problems and needs of the school, such as local violence, or community clean-up and support - 10 parents  come each day to help at the school;
  • established internships for our senior class at Radio Boukman - students spend 6 hours per week learning journalism, broadcasting and radio basics,
  • conducted a leadership retreat/conference at our formation center in Bassen Haiti for 24 student leaders and 4 high school professors - covered spirituality, responsibility and leadership;
  • started a "barefoot school" program for 175 children who never went to school and are between 8-13 years old. They come in the afternoon for a daily meal and our recent high school graduates teach them basic literacy;
  • continue to feed 150  elderly each day, with last year's high school graduates helping out.

Most Pressing Needs:

  • improved computer lab, internet access and computer tech/teacher;
  • solar energy for the school;
  • funding for teacher training and formation;
  • roof top garden installed on the main building;
  • after-school, extra-curricular programs and better religious education programs - including music program, dance, sports,etc.;
  • funds for supporting alumni graduates to come back  and help and teach - giving stipends.

DeWine Family Scholarship Program

Some DeWine Scholarship candidates meet with Senator and Fran DeWine

Thanks to the generosity of the DeWine family, we now have a special scholarship program for our high school graduates. Hands Together forged a partnership with the University of Notre Dame Haiti - and their 8 different colleges, so that scholarship recipients would receive 4 years of tuition, room and board, contingent upon a recipients successful admissions into the University. Currently, there are 28,  2012 graduates competing for this merit based award. All candidates must work for 6 months - teaching at our barefoot schools or helping run our elderly feeding programs. In February, Senator DeWine and Fran DeWine met with all candidates and interviewed them.

St Ann Middle School

Thanks to strong leadership from the administration at our St Ann campus - we have a very well run middle school with a great potential for many improvements and more advanced programs. Like the high school, we implemented a strong parent/community committee and started a student council as well. Hands Together has worked hard to renovate the existing St. Ann church that is adjacent to our school complex  - and it is here that we hold parent rallies, hold Sunday Mass, and even hold mini retreats and teaching sessions for our gang outreach program. We are trying to increase our Catholic presence and resurrect a lagging Catholic faith presence in our schools and in the neighborhoods.

Fr. Tom speaks to parents and community at an anti-voilence rallly organized by HT and held at the St Ann Church.

Most Pressing Needs:

  • install an artificial turf field at St. Ann that will serve our entire Becky DeWine school population. We estimate that it would cost about $200,000 - with our Dismas and local people doing much of the labor.
  • Add a good computer lab
  • obtain funding to expand our "barefoot school" outreach here - to pay for additional school meals and learning materials - $18,000.
  • Roof top and school gardens.

Our Fundamental Schools

"If we can begin when they are young, and instill a solid moral and intellectual foundation, we can help change an entire generation and eventually transform the Cite Soleil slum, and the minds of our students will be open and strong enough to imagine a totally different kind of life. A life of service, and responsibility. That is why it is so important to have good quality pre-school and elementary school programs," says Fr. Tom.

Most Pressing Needs:

  • playground  equipment at 5 locations - $9,000
  • "little lending libraries" at each campus - where teachers can borrow classroom books and teaching aids  - $18,000
  • school gardens.

H.S. interns at Radio Boukman learning how to broadcast

Radio Boukman Internship

In September, we started an internship  for our high school seniors for them to gain real life, hands-on experience in the world of broadcasting and communications. Hands Together supports Radio Boukman with an annual operating grant and we feel that it is a great example of a locally created and run project.

Project Dismas

This past summer, Fr. Tom organized 9 groups of 11 young men with ties to the gangs of Cite Soleil and created work projects for them during July and August. This experiment proved very successful and demonstrated that with a little effort, something can be done to alter the lives of those who many consider "beyond hope."

Dismas worker supervises recreation at St Veronica.

Dismas is an outreach to the at-risk youth and gang element in Cite Solei – named after the thief on the cross next to Jesus, who at the end of his life, experienced Redemption. The central message here is that all human life is precious and redeemable, and that with God’s grace, anyone can change. We are trying to change the hearts and minds of the young people who’ve been labeled vagabonds.  

This project is primarily about human dignity, about instilling hope and self-worth. It is not a “job-creation” program, but an outreach linked to the Church and our educational centers “schools” in particular neighborhoods.

Duration:  Project begins January 1st and ends April 30, 2013 . Max participants: - 120  Structure & Operations:      We will create “dismas teams” of 10 participants – each group headed by a captain. Project will start on January 1st – and continue until the school year ends on June 30th.

Cost: $10,457/ month – x 4 months - $41,828         

Fran & Mike DeWine, Bill Darling, and Tom Hiltz visit a barefoot school classroom.

Barefoot Schools

In early November 2012, Fr. Tom  noticed many school aged children wandering around nearby our campuses, but not in school. He discovered that there was an entire population of kids (ages 8-14) who have never been to school and as they get older, their chances of ever learning to read and write diminish rapidly. So we created our "barefoot school" to target these youth. Each day we feed and provide literacy formation to 255 young people who have never been to school - an might never go to school.

We run a barefoot school at our 3 largest campus centers. The participants come at 1pm for a daily meal, and then they sit through 2 hours of basic literacy training. What is unique about this project, is that the teaching is  done by our recent high school graduates as part of their DeWine Scholarship eligibility requirements. As more and more students graduate from our high school, we can see the great impact our alumni will have on the communities of Cite Soleil.

2012 Christmas Update

We must not seek the child Jesus in the pretty figures of our Christmas cribs. We must seek him among the undernourished children who have gone to bed at night with nothing to eat, among the poor newsboys who will sleep covered with newspapers in doorways. -- Archbishop Oscar Romero, December 24, 1979

HT Trustee Tom Beadette visits HT schools

During this time of Advent we are called to wait – it is a time of exile and we await a light to come and dispel the darkness. Certainly we experience this at a profound and harsh level with our work in Port-au-Prince.

Today as I approached the Sisters’ place a group of young men attacked us with rocks. They were screaming and yelling that we do nothing for them. They rolled big boulders in front of the car and they began sitting on the car. I threw it in reverse and went around the back way and approached the sisters from another route, but the men proceeded to do the same thing. It was very traumatic for me and the sisters. Tomorrow, the sisters will send their driver for me. We had a similar incident at the Boston clinic yesterday and Jim Dellavalle had to endure it. These are times when the thought of leaving seems very appealing.” – Fr. Tom Hagan note to Doug Campbell – 12/11/12

The email above from Fr. Tom really captures the struggle of working with the poor in Port-au-Prince. It is a constant pressure, especially from those who we simply cannot help. It is a problem that cannot be solved by “giving more”. During this time of Advent we are praying for God to help us with these challenges -- to help us avoid discouragement or giving up, to see the “light of world” even when it seems dark. So this Christmas we ask that you say a little prayer for us and know that we are always grateful for everyone who is part of our small work.

Anti-Violence Message

Fr Tom prepares to give anti violence message

During October and November violence in Cite Soleil increased, with different groups fighting one another and creating serious safety and security problems for schools and clinics. The instability became so disruptive, that we had to close our schools down several times.

This prompted us to hold a large “anti-violence” rally at the St. Ann Chapel in late November. Nearly 3,000 people, students, parents, staff and community leaders filled the St. Ann Chapel to show their solidarity and the cry to stop the violence and allow the children to go to school without fear or danger. Representatives from the Becky DeWine School Parents committee (mother and a father) pleaded for an end to the fighting. Hands Together School leaders, Doug Campbell, and Fr. Tom Hagan all spoke to the large crowd. The event ended with an address from the Haitian Secretary of State and the chief of Police – pledging to properly dispatch police to school sites and insure safety for the Hands Together schools in Cite Soleil.

We needed to place this problem of violence into the hands of the community. We needed to shed some light on how bad things have become and challenge every parent and every community leader to spread a message that violence cannot conquer violence. Fr. Tom did a wonderful job of communicating that God not only loves everyone, from the children to the gang member, but that God forgives everyone. We needed to establish a starting point for moving forward and scrub out any ideas of vengeance,” said Doug Campbell.

Becky DeWine School – Centers of Hope

Giving out weekend food to elderly

Hands Together runs Becky DeWine School campuses in seven major Cite Soleil slum neighborhoods. From the beginning we’ve emphasized the “community nature” of the schools. They are much more than classrooms, and from them come a variety of activities that help students, parents, teachers, elderly and the community in general. Here are just a few of the ways our schools help bring some stability and a sense of hope to an otherwise dismal place:

  • Daily School Meals – Thanks to Mary’s meals we provide a daily meal to all students, staff and elderly. Each day we serve close to 6,000 meals. “It’s a huge accomplishment – every day. Even as we struggle with the quality of teaching and the other problems, this one thing, by itself, is an incredible feat.”
  • K- 12 Education – The biggest challenge is trying to run the high school. Our fundamental and middle school runs pretty well, but our high school gives us constant problems. The high school demands a huge number of special teachers, and tons of books, and computers, equipment.  We try to provide a comprehensive education – intellectual, spiritual and physical. 

 “There is a huge need for better religious/spiritual teaching. Ethics and morals and a sense of service are just not instilled here the way we try to in the U.S. – so we try to do some of this and realize that the best way is to begin with our kindergarten and very young pupils. And then the challenge is to stay with it all the way until they leave our high school.” Fr. Tom Hagan

  •  Barefoot Schools – There are countless children of all different ages who never really went to school. We’ve enlisted the help of our recent H.S. graduates to work with this group from 1-3pm, each afternoon. We provide a simple meal and some basic literacy training to about 600 participants, but this could easily double overnight if we opened it up further.

Parents gather for Anti Violence Rally

  • Parent Associations – Every school is designed to serve the community where it’s located. We’ve done a poor job of fostering responsibility and support from the parents and local leaders. This year, we created “parent associations” with 10 parents from each school, meeting every Sunday to discuss the needs, problems and programs of the school. If there is a problem of violence near the schools, then we turn to them to help us address it, if there is a maintenance problem, or a theft problem, then we must include the parents and the community in our response.
  • Employment – We employ a lot of people to work. It’s probably one of the best by-products of the school system. Over 300 people receive a paycheck each month. “The best thing we can do for the very young people is create the community school and promote education, the best thing we can do for over 20 generations is to find ways to give them jobs or ways to generate income.” – Doug Campbell
  • Project Dismas – There are thousands of young people in Cite Soleil (ages 19-28) who do not work and who naturally end up in gangs. Every neighborhood has this element. We began an outreach to these young people and in the past we’ve had some limited success in helping some of them change the direction of their life. The project is named Dismas - after the thief on the cross next to Jesus, who at the end of his life, experienced Redemption. The central message here is that all human life is precious and redeemable, and that with God’s grace, anyone can change. We are trying to change the hearts and minds of the young people who’ve been labeled vagabonds. We created “dismiss teams” of 10 participants – each group headed by a captain.
    • Each team helps at a school location – our schools should be the anchor from which we outreach to the community.
    • Assist with Elderly feeding and outreach,
    • Beautify the grounds, clean up around each school every week,
      • Build and care for a school garden – at every sight.
  • Annual Becky DeWine School Christmas Gifts – During the week of December 17-21, each school campus will run its modest Christmas party, where students receive a small Christmas present from the DeWine Family. “Fran and Mike DeWine, and lots of their friends work all year long to collect about 5,000 gifts for the kids. This year the young ones will get beanie babies, and jump ropes. Every high school student will receive a new calculator. Fran DeWine does a remarkable job collecting, sorting and packing all this stuff up and getting it down to us. It’s a real nice thing for the kids, just a far too infrequent gesture of love that lets these children know that they are important.” Doug Campbell
  • Radio Bookman Interns – Each year we provide a grant to help Radio Boukman – a grassroots radio station that was founded by past HT employees – and provides Cite Soleil with excellent news, spiritual radio, music and educational programs. In November we started an intern program for our H.S. seniors, where they spend afternoons learning the basics of journalism and radio broadcasting.
  • Mobile Clinic – HT trustee, Dr. Jim Dellavalle spent December 4 -14 helping Dr. Fanfan with our mobile clinic outreach program. Each day, about 125 people came to the clinic, which circulated around the different zones of Cite Soleil.