March will be one of the most important months of the year for the Haiti Outreach group. On two weekends, March 10-11, and March 17-18, volunteers will be outside the new Cathedral at all masses to take part in our annual Haitian School Sponsorship drive. The fundraiser is an opportunity for Sacred Heart parishioners and friends to sponsor students at the primary and secondary schools our group supports in Boucan Carre, Haiti.
Together the two schools have about 1200 students, three times the number of students who attended when Sacred Heart began support of the schools more than a decade ago. Both schools have facilities that, while very simple by American standards, are today among the best in one of Haiti’s poorest regions. In partnership with our sister parish, St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Tabb, Virginia, we provide $11,000 each month to pay teacher salaries at both schools and to feed the children at the primary school a daily meal of beans and rice. Another partner parish, St. Anselm in St. Louis, provided funds for the recently completed four-room addition to the primary school.
For seventeen years the School Sponsorship program has been a critical part of our mission in Haiti. Last year 191 families participated in the sponsorship of more than 300 children. Photos of the students are available for those who wish to choose a particular child or, in many cases, to continue the support of a child from last year. Sponsorships begin at $150 per student with higher donation levels of $500 (angel) and $1000 (saint) available as well. Sponsors may use either a check or credit card, and may donate online at haitioutreachprogram.com.
Our group’s most recent medical mission returned from a trip that took them to two remote villages, one of which had rarely seen a doctor or nurse. The team was smaller than usual, with only two doctors and a nurse. Their first day was spent a Ferre Bien, a village about an hour’s walk in the early morning. Working in difficult circumstances, with inadequate light and little time for breaks of any kind, the team saw about 180 patients before they walked back to the rectory at the end of the day.
The next morning the group made the five-hour hike to Bouly, where they arrived during the chaos of the weekly market day. Instead of much-needed rest, they immediately attended to a man with a serious scalp injury. In two-plus days the medical team saw more than 350 patients in Bouly, including the delivery of two babies. Our thanks go out to the numerous individuals and groups in the community who helped purchase medicines for the trip.
Our efforts will continue over spring break, when this year’s students from Catholic High will join students from St. Anselm parish in St. Louis on the annual high school trip to our Haiti mission. This year will be the largest trip ever, made possible by the new rectory in Boucan Carre.
As always, we appreciate the tremendous personal and financial support we receive from so many in the Knoxville region. Our next meeting will be Thursday, April 5, at 6:30 in the library of Sacred Heart School.