As the month came to a close, we had received most of the checks and pledges for our annual student sponsorship drive that raises funds for teacher salaries and student tuition at the primary and secondary schools in Boucan Carre, Haiti. Ecole De San Michel is the third largest school in Haiti, with more than 1,000 students in grades pre-school through six. The sponsorships also provide funds for teachers and 250 secondary students at College de San Michel and approximately 45 female students at St. Michel’s vocational school.
With most of the contributions in, it appears that the sponsorship effort exceeded our goals. Sponsorships from parishioners and friends of Sacred Heart totaled approximately $64,000. When added to the $57,000 contributed from our partner parish, St. Kateri, funds raised in the sponsorship drive will cover a large portion of the combined $128,000 budget needed to operate the three schools. Special thanks go to Sonya Mire and April Comerford of Sacred Heart, and to Judy Townsend and Virginia Cotter of St. Kateri, for their tremendous contributions of time and effort--including a trip to Haiti to take photos of the students--that produced such a successful sponsorship program. Anyone wishing to sponsor a student can donate through our website at www.haitioutreachprogram.com.
Partnerships with Sacred Heart parish are a critical aspect of our Haiti program. As evident by the school sponsorships, our partnership with St. Kateri Tekawitha parish in Tabb, Virginia, located near Newport News, is an excellent example of how parishes can leverage their resources to make a greater impact on our mission efforts. St. Kateri held their annual Haiti banquet on May 19. In addition to representatives from Sacred Heart, we hosted Father DuPortal from St. Michel’s parish in Boucan Carre. He was joined by Father Michael Brunner of St. Louis, Missouri, whose St. Anselm parish has taken the lead in constructing facilities at the primary school and the new rectory in Boucan Carre that was dedicated in March.
The dinner at St. Kateri was an opportunity to reinforce our partnership among the four parishes and to reflect upon the remarkable progress our mission has experienced over the last decade. The construction and operation of a primary and secondary school, the construction of a new rectory and repair of the existing church, and the construction of a remote medical clinic--are all testimony to the possibilities of our partnership and our mission.
Our work will continue this summer. Alex Iman, a recent graduate of Knoxville Catholic High School, will spend the summer in Boucan Carre with a goal of learning Creole and becoming a valuable long-term asset to our efforts. A new Haitian physician will begin work on July 1 at our clinic in Bouly. In July, a trip is planned that will include first-time visitors to Haiti.
Our next meeting of the Haiti Outreach Program will be on Thursday, June 1 in Room 103 of Sacred Heart School. This will be an important meeting at which we will discuss next year’s budget. Everyone is welcome to attend.