Haiti Mission

 

WHY HAITI?

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world. It's population is almost entirely descended from African slaves brought by the tens of thousands by the French to Haiti in the 1700’s to work as slaves on the islands sugarcane and indigo plantations. Until recently, the Haitian people have been held back for over three centuries by among other things, governments led by despots and dictators. A series of natural disasters including the earthquake of 2010 which killed almost 500,000 people and left more than a million homeless as well as a number of severe hurricanes have sent back the islands attempts to improve its economy and the lives of ordinary Haitians and severely damaged it's already limited infrastructure. Haiti is a Catholic country with over 85% of its population of 9-10 million saying they are Catholic. In spite of extreme limited resources, the church is acknowledge to be the most effective institution in Haiti in all areas of daily life from education to healthcare to housing and nutrition.

PARISH TWINNING

Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization in 1992, the Haiti Parish twinning program matches up US and Haiti parishes to support the many education, health and other Parish needs of the Haiti Parish. The Cathedral of the Incarnation parish in Nashville was twinned with the parish of Saint Jean Baptiste in Lavallee de Jacmel shortly thereafter and continues it's active support today.

MISSION ACTIVITES

-Education: 

     Grade School: Almost 17 years ago, the pastor of Saint Jean parish told Cathedral parishioners of a valley in his parish with hundreds of children who never went to school. The nearest school was a one and a half hour walk out of the valley, a distance too great for the 6 to 9-year-olds to undertake on a daily basis. With no education at all, none could even read or write, their only future was one like their parents: a life as a subsistence farmer living in poverty on the edge of starvation. He said that his dream was to someday provide a school for these children. Cathedral parishioners funded the construction of the school, Saint Terese of LaVoute, for grades one through six and provided for almost all of the operating costs (salaries of teachers and staff, books and materials, a hot meal at lunch every day) initially for 325 students and currently for 225. All of these children and now have hope and the opportunity for a better life. The school continues to operate effectively today.

     High School: Twelve years ago, anticipating that children from the valley would be completing sixth grade, it became clear that a school covering seventh grade through high school would be needed. The Cathedral Haiti Education Mission then undertook the construction and provided operating funds for this new school, Ecole de Bon Pasteur (School of the Good Shepherd), located in the village of Musac in St. Jean Parish. Covering grades seven through high school, the school is equipped with science laboratories (biology, chemistry and physics) and a computer lab equipped with 20 laptops. In the 2015-16 school year, for the first time, two graduates of Saint Cecilia Academy in Nashville took a gap year before entering college to live in St. Jean parish and teach conversational English to all the students of the high school. Due to their outstanding work, the program was a big success and will be continuing. For the 2016-17 school year, two recent college graduates will spend the school year continuing the conversational English program. If you have an interest in exploring how you could spend a year, maybe the most for warding year of your life so far, contact Blair Ely at blair.ely@gmail.com. The goal is for every graduate of our schools to have received a first rate education, be conversant in the languages of the sciences, be computer literate, speak proficient English and have good values. In other words, be the kind of individuals who the best US and other employers in Haiti want to hire and who can be the future leaders of Haiti in all areas. The high school is now considered if not the top, at least among the top two or three best high schools in all of Haiti.

     College Scholarships: In Haiti, in order to continue your education, you have to pass national exams at different grade levels. Into thousand 12, our first group of graduates from Bon Pasteur took the national exam and not only passed but all scored in the top 10% in the country. Funding was secured to provide all 11 of the graduates with college scholarships covering tuition, books and fees and an amount for living expenses that would provide some but not all of what was needed for them to attend college in Haiti. The amounts were between $3300 and $3750 per student per year, depending on the course of study, which is a small amount compared to college costs in the USA. They would have to provide the rest from family or work. All of these children from the country parish of St. Jean would be the first members of their families to attend college. Of the 11 who started, nine have completed their studies and graduated in 2016. Since this first group entered college, and additional 45 Bon Pasteur students have graduated, been accepted at top schools in Haiti and are attending on scholarships. In 2016, 25 new graduates of Bon Pasteur will enter college bringing the total students in college under scholarship to 70 students for the 2016-17 school year. The goals of the students are not just to provide better lives for themselves and families but to change their country for the better, to be the leaders in all walks of life and to use that leadership to improve the lives of the impoverished Haitian people. They are going to do it!

-Health: 

     Be Happy Haiti (BHH) Dental Program: The Health Mission for St. Jean Baptiste parish began as a typical annual, multi-day, on-site outpatient general health clinic without a sustainable, continuous presence into what is today a year-round dental health program serving the dental needs of the thousands of children of the parish. This large scale public dental health program meets the needs of the community in a critical area that has been largely overlooked in Haiti.

Working from a fully equipped stationary dental office and a mobile dental clinic, a licensed Haitian dentist, a dentist in training, volunteer dental assistants and the nurse provide not only basic dental services, but as important, preventive dental care consisting of fluoride treatment and tooth sealant. This program helps prevent children in the parish from getting the same tooth decay that their parents have almost all experienced. The mobile dental clinic allows our dentists and support staff to travel to Catholic and government schools throughout the parish to both treat patients immediately where possible and to determine which children's dental needs are serious enough to warrant referral back to the stationary dental office. Thousands of Haitian children receive the services every year. The brainchild of three high school students from Saint Cecilia Academy in Nashville in 2013, Be Happy Haiti raises the funds used to provide the dental equipment and supplies as well as to pay the salaries of the dentist and other staff that deliver the services year round. In addition, this "kid to kid" program established a pen pal connection between the students of Overbrook grade school, Saint Cecilia Academy and the children in Haiti being served by the program. Be happy Haiti is making a significant contribution to the long-term health of many thousands of Haiti’s children. 

For a Fuller description of Be Happy Haiti, go to http://www.behappyhaiti.org and watch the introductory video, read testimonials and peruse the goals and ongoing activities of Be Happy Haiti.

-Funding the Haiti Mission Program: 

     Annually, in the fall, the pastor of Saint Jean Baptiste parish comes to Nashville to thank the Cathedral parishioners for their financial support of the education and health programs being conducted in his parish as well as reporting on what is being accomplished with their support. 

A special collection is taken up at all Masses that day and again in the spring. If you are at Mass on these days, please consider what the Haiti mission is accomplishing and be as generous as you are able.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to one or more of the specific programs (Education: Grade School, High School / College Scholarships / Be Happy Haiti), simply make a check out to: Cathedral Haiti Mission - (Add specific program) and mail it to:

Cathedral of the Incarnation / 2015 West End Avenue / Nashville, TN 37203 

If you are interested in actively participating in the work of the Haiti Mission please contact Bill Carter at bc5805@comcast.net, Tom Cigarran at tgc6767@gmail.com or Wes Ely at wes.ely@vanderbilt.edu

Pope Francis sent this message to us and to the world:

“Love is our mission. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow as we would like to be helped ourselves. If we want life, let us give life. If we want opportunities, let us give opportunities.”

AMEN

 


 


Who Should I Contact:

 

Bill Carter
bc5805@comcast.net

Tom Cigarran          tcg6767@gmail.com

Wes Ely   wes.ely@vanderbilt.edu

 

 


 


 


Cathedral Haiti Mission
The Cathedral of the Incarnation 
2015 West End Ave.
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 327-2330

 

 

 

     

 

 
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