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Merry Christmas

We would like to wish all of a Very Merry and Blessed Christmas.

This has been another successful year thanks to your generous donations and unwavering support. We reduced our expenses by sending funds on a quarterly basis instead of monthly. Those funds covered expenses for the parish, school tuition, teacher & school staff salaries, and the salary for the sewing school instructor.

We are very excited about our end of year projects.  For the first time in our 7 year history we are able to not only help the parish but also all three of Father’s chapels. There is a trade school in Hinche that teaches welding, mechanics, and cabinet making.

Learning auto mechanics

We will sponsor 9 people; 3 from the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary, 2 each from LaBeque, Cherival and Cour Cadichon. At $200 per person per year for a two year program you can’t beat the price. We will get a report on progress of the students at the end of year one. We will also be increasing our monthly stipend to provide for a fair wage for the teachers at LaBeque and for the teachers at the new school at Cherival.

You might recall 2 years ago the chapel at Cherival had a stick frame for the beginning of their church and school. Cherival prior to tin roof

We were able to provide a tin roof to give them some protection. We are happy to say the people of Cherival started an elementary school in the same structure. Conditions are primitive to be sure. To make things a little more school like we will be providing desks, blackboards and the all important outhouse.

School children at Cherival

All this is made possible because of your generosity. There are still a couple of weeks left in this year to make that last minute contribution. Don’t hesitate – Donate today. https://abcforhaiti.org/donate/

Merry Christmas from our families to yours!

Our Lady of the Rosary Parish-Haiti

Just back from my annual visit to Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Sapaterre and would like to combine the results of my visit with a reflection on this past year and what we have been able to accomplish.

As in the past this was a good visit, short but productive. Father and I had some time to chat about business and what he felt was needed in the parish and to discuss some situations that have arisen since my last visit.  I was able to spend time visiting the people in their homes.  There is an area directly across the street from the parish that I usually visit first and then as we make our way into Hinche, via foot because in Haiti we do as the Haitians do, we stop at just about every home on the way to say hello, see how they are doing and to take photos.

school kids goofing with Mr. Art

school kids goofing with Mr. Art

Then of course there are the school children, they’re always fun to goof around with.  Kids are kids no matter where you go.

Fr. Nova at All Saints - Mesa, AZ

Fr. Nova at All Saints – Mesa, AZ

  • 2016 started off with a visit from Father Nova to our organization in Mesa, Arizona. It was a very good visit. While here, Father con-celebrated Mass at our home parish of All Saints, donations were accepted after Mass and the parishioners of All Saints were very generous. We had a dinner with Haitian rice & beans, chicken, salad and Haitian Rum cake made with rum imported from Haiti for about 60 people. Our Men’s Ministry held a pancake breakfast and donated all their profit to ABC for Haiti, and our Knights of Columbus council 9485 donated 50% of their raffle proceeds to ABC for Haiti.
  • We have taken responsibility for keeping the parish school operating by supporting the income requirements of the 9 teachers, 1 principal, 1 secretary, 2 cleaning crew members and 3 cooking staff personnel.
  • We sponsor tuition for 50 children.
  • We have begun the long and tedious task of drilling a well for water as close as possible to the chapel school at LaBeque, this school has 400 children and no water nearby. The geological survey has been taken and we are waiting results. Once we have results we will decide where to drill and hopefully very soon there will be water for the community of LaBeque.
Fresh water and a smile, what a well will do

Fresh water and a smile, what a well will do

  • We continue to provide a monthly income for the parish to use as necessary.
  • We did have to temporarily discontinue the sewing school. The machines were not up to the job and we are searching for quality machines. As soon as we have them we will start up again. Unfortunately doing business in Haiti can be quite slow. As you can imagine it is very difficult for us to locate items like sewing machines in Haiti, and with Father being so far from Port-Au-Prince it is difficult for him to find the time to get there and when he does his time is taken up by a variety of tasks.

I try to keep these to one page so before I go I would just like to thank you for your support this past year and if you should by any chance need an additional tax write off, or you’re feeling a little more generous this time of year or you’re just so proud of what we have accomplished with your help we certainly would welcome anything more you can do. There is so much more to be done!  Oh! and wouldn’t you rather help someone other than Uncle Sam??

Click here to donate: http://abcforhaiti.org/one-time-donation/

EXPERIENCE

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In February this past year, two friends of mine, Mike from Minnesota (on the left) and Doug from Rhode Island (on the right)visited Haiti with me for the experience of a life time.  We had a project to do but that was just a means to the end.  To experience the situation in Port-au-Prince as we travelled out of town was eye opening.  Living the experience for a week among the poor of the Central Plateau at Our Lady of the Rosary was inspiring for them to say the least.  I hope I have adequately captured their reactions and experience.

Michael is a very detail oriented person and needs to know what, when, where, and how at all times no matter the situation and yet somewhere in all this “need to know” is a big heart of compassion.  From the minute we got off the plane in Port-Au-Prince Mike had one question after the other about life in Haiti and at times found it very hard to understand how it could be like this.  For example, where do the people work, make money to buy things and food?  It was difficult for him to understand the people we serve in the central plateau have very little resources.  There is no industry and they basically take each day at a time, selling food on the street, maybe selling a few vegetables or herbs they grew in their yard, maybe selling a chicken or two.  Maybe a little carpentry or brick work if it is available.  Whatever comes their way!  Now as soon as we went out to meet the people of the parish, Michael began to understand and his big heart began to show.  He was warm, and kind, and loving to everyone and loved the children and having his photo taken with them.  He wanted to give everything he had with him, unfortunately unless you have enough for everyone you can’t do this.  Michael had to do something and he did.  One morning we were sitting under the tree by the road and recess began at the school.  There is a man who sells sugar cane to the children who have a few pennies.  Michael made sure every child got sugar cane that day.

Doug is an easy going kind of happy guy and more or less takes things in stride.  Doug was in need of a spiritual boost and he sure came to the right place.  It’s hard not to get a spiritual boost when you see the poverty, yet experience the warm welcomes, the smiles, the joy, the faith that God will somehow provide, these people have despite their situation.  Here when they pray “give us this day our daily bread”, they depend and believe it will happen. Doug’s biggest connection was with the children. Doug has always been good with children, a stern and loving father always wanting his children to make a good life and now a devoted grandfather. The photo above I think says it all.  If there is one theme with Doug and his experience it is Education.  He recognizes Fr. Nova’s commitment to education of his parish, his aides, and those he teaches at a variety of schools in the Diocese.

Think about it – Jesus spent His life teaching the people of His time and continues to teach us in His Holy Gospel.

If you were to ask either of these men I’m sure there would be no hesitation in encouraging you to make a visit to Haiti or some other place to experience the good that is being done for others.  You cannot come back home without a change in attitude and without making new friends with each other and those your serve.

It was a blessing for me to have them with me and I hope there will be many more who will want to learn by experience.

Art

Third World

ebola-victims[1]                       D29_garbage1Roy[1]

Ebola Victim                                                                                                   Trash

       haiti_1846096b[1]                                                                        Earthquake Haiti 2010

            Have you ever been to what we in this country and other “developed” countries around the world call the “third world”?  I’d suggest that most of us would answer, No!  Understandably, Third World nations are not places that the Travel Agents of the world have on their radar screens at all.  Third World countries do not have what we’ve come to expect as normal accommodations for travelers, chances are that they don’t even have electric service, you certainly can’t drink the water, roads are more like cow paths, no sewers to carry away waste, certainly no garbage collection (there is no garbage only a few scattered pieces of plastic bag floating around), food is scarce, meat and poultry for example lay along the side of the road where they’ve just been slaughtered, pieces will be sold before the sun goes down, so there’s no refrigeration, sanitation is pretty much non-existent.

            In other words, people in Third World nations have little or nothing that we take for granted, including food, water, shelter, health care and clothing; education is hit and miss; students must share books and they would be lucky to have a single piece of paper between them.

            We see our evening television news, or hear the world news on radio or read the morning newspaper and see events like the spread of Ebola (which is not new at all) and wonder how “those” people got it, spread it and live with it.  Disease of course knows no borders it only attacks what it can no matter where it might be.  So some of us wonder what might possess a person to volunteer to go to East Africa and help; why would they put themselves at risk?  Or why would someone go to Haiti after an earthquake and dig bodies out from under the rubble?

            I’ll give you a one word answer; it’s always the “PEOPLE”.  Those of us who have been to such places would tell you in a heartbeat, it’s the people.  People who live in that “third world”; have so little and share so much that they grab your heart and pull at your mind.  Once you’ve been there, it’s nearly impossible to get them out of your thoughts.  Yet like Jesus once said, “you believe because you have seen, blessed are those who have not seen but believe”.

            Blessed also are those who continue to support the efforts of ABC for Haiti and have not yet been to Haiti.  You might also consider travel this coming February and see first-hand for yourself why we continue this work of love.

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Deacon Bernie Filzen

Vice President

ABC for Haiti

 

(Deacon Bernie and his wife Pat have been helping the poor in Haiti for over 30 years.  We are honored to have him as an officer and board member for ABC for Haiti.)