Is Haiti for Real?
In the absence of information or when simply listening to the headline news, people can assume the worst and give up hope for the people in Haiti, a textbook case of a country that has suffered from years of corruption from within and outside its borders. Since Haiti’s bloody beginning, the ruling class and politicians have oppressed the common people––it is no wonder that the country is in the state it is in. But there’s more to the story. One must be willing to search for alternative sources of reliable information, and be willing to spend the time and the effort to look for rays of light and for positive stories to counter the prevailing narrative.
Such rays can be found on La Gonâve, an island 20 miles off the coast of Haiti. God has been at work on this small, rocky island for the past 32 years. First there were 11 communities in partnership with churches here in the US––one of the first being your church. St. Philip’s has been a sister church with St. Jean–Baptiste Church and its adjoining school in the village of Plaine Mapou for 29 years. Then shortly after the 2010 devastating earthquake in Haiti, the churches and schools in Haiti and in the US decided to come together under the nonprofit organization called La Gonâve Haiti Partners, Inc. (LGHP), now celebrating its 32-year anniversary. This partnership among St. Jean–Baptiste, St. Philip’s, and LGHP has produced many fruits over the years. This is a ray of light worth learning more about.
I wish I could show you pictures and tell you heartwarming tales from a recent mission trip to Haiti like you hear about our other home and world missions, but the reality is that Suzanne and Gerry McCord and so many others of us who have been before have not been able to go back since attending our last annual feast day at St. Jean–Baptiste in June 2019. With COVID and the current political uncertainty, it has been too difficult and dangerous to travel to and around the country. While we have missed this relational part of the experience, it has not kept LGHP and St. Philip’s from continuing the mission of supporting spiritual, educational, agricultural, and healthcare initiatives that improve the lives of the people in the community.
I can attest to this firsthand. After many trips with Gerry, and after seven years on the Board of LGHP, and as its treasurer, I can assure you that the financial support you send through St. Philip’s to support St. Jean-Baptiste and its adjoining school is making a difference and is continuing to foster positive change on the island. Our support has been even more instrumental in giving our friends on the island hope in the midst of the current chaos.
While it is true that seeing is believing, until we can take the next journey, we are blessed to be able to remain in regular communication with our brothers and sisters on the ground in Haiti. Let me give you some recent highlights from our sister church in Plaine Mapou.
St. Jean-Baptiste Church and School
• St. Jean–Baptiste Church remains an active place of worship and a center of the community of Plaine Mapou.
• The school is currently operating on a regular schedule with 39 students currently enrolled.
• Lunch programs provide meals to the students during school sessions for as long as supplies are available and means of transportation and safety allow.
• Through its community-wide goat program, LGHP donates goats to families in the communities. When all you have is next to nothing, goats are of value to families for breeding and a way to raise money.
• Areas of great need: additional funds/donations to provide uniforms, school bags, and the distribution of notebooks by May 23 in preparation of the 2023–2024 academic year; a new perimeter wall––not having a wall poses a serious problem with erosion, student safety, and the theft of materials and food placed in the school warehouse.
Healthcare: Healthcare services are provided to the families in the community of Plaine Mapou by the motivated medical staff of the Bill Rice Clinic, who do their best despite the worst social and political situation of the country. Medicines are purchased from the Wesleyan Church pharmacy on the island of La Gonâve and stored at the LGHP Bill Rice Clinic’s pharmacy located in the mountains, closer to the communities it serves. These invaluable medicines are provided to the communities by the head doctor as needed and as supplies allow.
In conclusion, yes, Haiti is reality, a reality that we are far removed from. But it is also an inspiration. Our Haitian brothers and sisters want the same life and opportunities as we do, and we are blessed to be a blessing to them. With the Lord’s blessing and through our mutual friendship and prayers, anything is possible. While we hope that one day Haiti will be able to flourish without ongoing financial assistance, that’s not the way it is now. For now, it is a mutual relationship like family. As with our other mission efforts, continued support is required. But the joy comes from knowing that our support is changing lives and providing hope both in Haiti and here at St. Philip’s. In a game of inches, a little means a lot. The continuing support from St. Philip’s and from you provides a ray of light that lets our brothers and sisters know that we care.
Keep the Faith! Bondye bon! (God is Good!)
Save the dates for the annual LGHP conference, which will be held July 28–29 at St. Philip’s (details to come). If you would like to learn more about La Gonâve Haiti Partners and the communities that it supports, please visit www.lagonavepartners.org.
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