The past year has been a challenge for our mission in Haiti. A prolonged period of political turbulence suspended our travel to Haiti for the entire year. It has now been more than two years since we have sent a mission team. Meanwhile, the arrival of a new priest in our sister parish of St. Michel required a period of adjustment for everyone while he became acquainted with the two schools and the medical clinic we support.
Fortunately, there appears to be a break in the unrest that had brought much of the country to a halt since early last year. We are making plans to take one, and possibly two, missions before the rains come again in late May. At present we hope to take a group that will focus on plans for the primary and secondary schools in Boucan Carre. Our group has discussed a number of potential initiatives, including providing food for the secondary school and developing a new vocational program to train students for specific skills once they leave school. The goal is to provide students with the chance to work in jobs that would generate income from the private sector for them and their families.
Anyone in reasonable physical shape who is interested in joining the upcoming mission trips should contact Dr. Dean Mire at 384-3391 or Billy Stair at 310-7833.
Back in Knoxville, Sonya Mire, Leslie Adams and Stephanie Giger went for the second year to Sacred Heart School, speaking to a gym full of young people about the needs of their fellow students in Boucan Carre. As a Sacred Heart alum Leslie challenged each class to sponsor one child in the St. Michel primary school, a cost that is about $150 per child. The funds would help pay for tuition, uniforms and books for about 900 students in the school.
The student sponsorship program has become a major source of revenue for our outreach efforts. Last year the combined sponsorship efforts of Sacred Heart our sister parish, St. Kateri in Tabb, Virginia, resulted in more than $100,000 in funds for the two Boucan Carre schools. The funds are an absolutely critical part of paying the teachers and feeding the students in the region’s two largest schools. This year’s student sponsorship drive at Sacred Heart will be before and after Mass on the weekends of March 21 and 28.
On a positive note, just when we thought things were at their darkest, we received two donations totaling $13,500. The generous donations were further evidence that others continue to believe in the goals of our mission. We are grateful beyond words.
The next meeting of the Haiti Outreach Committee will be Thursday, February 6, at 6:30 in the library of Sacred Heart School.