St. Marc, Haiti
Is There Hope For Haiti?Haiti currently holds the dubious distinction of being the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, with a majority of its people living in subhuman conditions. St. Scholastica parish is taking an active role in opening our hearts and our wallets to our brothers and sisters in Haiti. We would like your help.
Haiti, which is only 700 miles off the Florida coast, is approximately the size of Maryland and is inhabited by more than 9 million people. As part of the Caribbean island Hispaniola, the native people of Haiti were all but obliterated by its first colonizers, Spain, back in the early 1500's. Haiti was rich agriculturally and foreign countries wanted to control the abundant sugar cane crop. For several hundred years following the original foreign occupation, Haitians suffered conquests and tyranny at the hands of imperialism.
Then in 1804 Haitians defeated the French army, declared its independence, and became the first black republic. But after years of inner turmoil, economic embargos, agricultural pillaging and decades of reparations to France, Haiti has fallen into the cold grip of humanitarian and economic despair.
On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the country. About 230,000 people died, and nearly two million Haitians have been displaced. (www.crs.org/countries/haiti)
› Haiti Facts
Population: 9 million +
Largest City: Port-au-Prince
Ethnicity: 95% Black & 5% other
Language: French and Creole
Religion: 80% Catholic 17% Protestant 3% other
(Note: nearly 50% of the population practices Voodoo)
Literacy: Approx. 50% can read and write
Poverty: 80% (54% live in abject poverty)
POLITICS: Despite their vast and dire economic challenges, Haitians are a proud people. After leading the only successful slave rebellion in the early 19th century, Haiti established itself as the first black republic in modern times and has been able to maintain its independence.
CULTURE: Music, art and dance are abundant in Haiti, an amalgamation of the varying occupational influences, as well as that of African culture. (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Haiti).
GEOGRAPHY: Haiti's geography is a mix of beautiful beaches and rugged mountainous terrain. (www.countrystudies.us/haiti/19.htm).
HAITI'S CHALLENGES: The richness of Haiti's culture and the beauty of its beaches can't mask the destitution that so many of its people have come to know as a way of life. Decades of political corruption, autocracies, tyranny, deforestation (www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/43a/448.html) and economic mismanagement have pillaged Haiti's living conditions. Half of the population is illiterate and lacks drinkable water, less than ten percent has electricity and Haiti has the highest percentage of people living with AIDS/HIV in the western hemisphere.
HOPE FOR CHANGE: Recent administrative changes in Haiti and economic incentives have created a climate for change in Haiti...positive change, but only with your help.
Specifically, what is the current landscape for aid and what can the parishioners of St. Scholastica do to help our brothers and sisters in Haiti?
Billions of dollars of aid have poured into Haiti through the decades. Corruption, mismanagement, and lack of social stability have been among the chief culprits of funds being diverted away from where they are needed the most. The landscape however appears to be changing for the better, and right now could be the perfect time to help.
The stability that President Rene Preval has brought to the political system, the current favorable U.S. trade legislation (HOPE II Act), and the recent drop in crime, in large part due to UN peacekeeping forces, has created a climate of hope that Haiti hasn't seen in decades. In the words of President Preval: "Haiti is at a turning point. It can slide backwards into darkness and deeper misery, sacrificing all the country's progress and hard work by the United Nations and international community... or it can break out, into the light toward a brighter and more hopeful future." (www.nytimes.com/2009/03/31/opinion/31iht-edmoon.html)
For the past several years, St. Scholastica parish has taken an active role in doing our part help in Haiti, to date we have:
1) Donate: You can donate online (+) to our ongoing efforts to support education in Haiti at Good Samaritans School or make donations at St. Scholastica.
Donations help to change these students' future by:
3) Pray: for the people of Haiti and especially for their children's future.
The following prayer speaks to the needs of children throughout the developing world:
Lord, this world needs the marvelous wealth that is youth. Help young people!
They possess the inexhaustible wealth of the future.
For those who are poor and struggling, do not allow difficulties
to quench their spirit.
For those who are wealthy, do not allow an easy life
to corrupt them.
And may we join together in prayer and action
to support and guide young people,
both near and far.
(Adapted from Dom Helder Camara's "Prayer for Young People")
› High Hopes for Haiti www.highhopesforhaiti.org
This website provides information about Good Samaritans School in St. Marc, Haiti, where St. Scholastica sponsors several students. The site includes information on other projects of the Mortel Family Charitable Foundation.
America Magazine: A recent article in America magazine highlights changes in Haiti’s provinces as a result of the January earthquake: www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=12500
Catholic Relief Services:
The Catholic Relief Services website has a page on Haiti with information and recent articles: www.crs.org/countries/haiti
• Find more articles on Haiti in our: links section »
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