Haiti Highlights - Tim Muth
Here are some of the highlights from my December 2015 trip:
Fr. Johnson is doing well and sends his best wishes to everyone at Holy Name of Jesus (HNJ). A new seminarian has been assigned to Les Palmes to assist Fr. Johnson
On Sunday, we went to a remote chapel for mass. The chapel is called Notre Dame du Perpetuel Secours (Our Lady of Perpetual Help). Fr. Johnson visits the remote chapels twice a year so it is a very big community event when he visits. We brought 10 people (altar servers, choir members, deacon) plus the sound system with us. Over 300 people attended mass and it was standing room only. There were 10 baptisms and 3 first communions. The church was decorated with colorful streamers and balloons. Over 100 school children processed in with Fr. Johnson. They carried their school and church banners and sang the opening hymn. It was a very spiritual and moving 2+ hour service. (Just like HNJ, a cell phone went off during mass. Unlike HNJ, no one left early.) After the mass, we visited the local school. It is run by a Catholic brother. We shared Christmas presents with the children. The presents were toys left over from HNJ’s Beachside Festival. Thank you HNJ!
The students were taking exams during my visit. As I walked around the village, I would see groups of children studying for their exams.
A French non-profit organization built small school buildings at 3 of our remote schools (St. Therese, St. Antoine, and Sacred Heart).
Fr. Johnson has formed a building committee to assist him in rebuilding the church in Les Palmes. It was damaged by the 2010 earthquake.
The 2016 VBS program will take place in late June. We plan to visit 5 remote schools.
Fr. Anis is doing well and sends his Christmas greeting to everyone at HNJ.
The new addition to the school was completed by a group of men from Wisconsin and Indiana. The library, computer room, and 2 classrooms are very nice. Fr. Anis asked them to build a small stage in the library so he can use the room as a chapel. Fr. Anis plans to name the library in honor of Matthew Roy.
Digicell (the local cell phone company) will provide 1 month training for the Durissy teachers. Also, they may build a new 3-4 classroom building next year.
Fr. Anis continues to expand the high school. 11th grade was added in 2015/2016 and he plans to open 12th grade next year. The high school is the only option for the children in Durissy. The nearest high school is in Petit Goave (about a 3 hour walk from Durissy).
Fr. Anis plans to build a “Life Center” and Cafeteria near the school. He hired local workers to start clearing the land.
One evening, Fr. Anis, Lamothe, and I were taking a casual stroll around Durissy. We saw several middle school students studying for their math exam. They were solving math problems on a blackboard. It was getting dark and I could hardly see the board much less the formulas. To reward their dedication and hard work, we gave the students a LuminAid (a small pillow sized, solar powered light). They loved it. It provided a bright light which allowed them to study for another 1-2 hours.
The 2016 VBS program will be held in late June, early July. We plan to open the VBS program with a prayer service in the new chapel/library.
Morne a Chandelle
Fr. Petit wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Fr. Petit continues to run one of the best schools in Haiti. His secret is discipline and hard work.
17 students graduated from St. Michaels in June 2015.
Fr. Petit is planning a huge midnight mass and Christmas celebration. I watched the 2nd grade girls practice their dance routine and the choir rehearsing their songs. Everyone is very excited.
Fr. Petit held a Parents’ meeting during my visit. 85 school parents attended. In a very forceful and animated manner, Fr. Petit talked to them about discipline (it is crucial for students to attend school every day, the children must be properly dressed for school, no wild hairdo’s, proper hygiene, no cell phones, make sure they complete their homework) and respect (the students must respect their teachers and be kind to their classmates). Fr. Petit interjected a little humor when he thanked HNJ for their long term support and then told the parents “HNJ does not have a big bucket of money”. He stressed the importance of parent support and acting as good role models. Then, he ended by talking about tuition. This was a very popular topic. Usually, the Haitian people are polite and don’t argue with authority figures. Not so, when the topic of tuition was discussed. By the way, the annual tuition is about US $ 70 per year. Only 25% of the families can afford to pay any amount of tuition. Fr. Petit closed by telling the parents “we need to work together as a family to make our school stronger.”
Fr. Petit has hired outside trainers to conduct training sessions for all 65 teachers from Dec. 28 – 31.
Another LuminAid story : Fr. Petit plans to use 10 Luminaids as lanterns to light the way during their midnight mass celebration. Then at the teacher training program, he will reward the top teachers with a LuminAid.
The 2016 VBS program will be held in early July. The DJ has been hired and the children are ready for a faith-filled and joyous time.
One problem shared by all three villages is the lack of food to serve lunch to the school children. Most of the non-profit organizations have cut back or eliminated their food allotments. Although we focus our ministry on education, we were moved by this situation and are trying to find a short term solution to provide a daily lunch through the end of this school year (June 2016). The short-term solution will entail both a financial contribution and finding new non-profit feeding partners.