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#1788: Re: #1774: How can we help? Hall comments

From: Edward C. Hall <70412.3572@compuserve.com>


I applaud your parish for wanting to get involved and read Bob Corbett's
response and agree in general but have a few additional comments.

His advice to let the parish decide what their needs are is the best that
you can get not only on what your project will be but in what you decide to
bring with you if you go. There is no trash pick up to get rid of the
unwanted junk that people bring and send.

I have been involved with a non sectarian group and know that every priest
or religious person is not ideally motivated but my experience with five
from the the Northeast and one from the Southwest  has been that some are
very strongly motivated to help their flock.

You may not feel comfortable or have the time to spend two weeks in Haiti
on your first visit but any time that you can will be well spent. You will
either fall in love with the country and its people or never want to hear
about it again.

You may not be comfortable in venturing far from where you stay on your
first visit, but that should not stop you.  You will want to be assured
that wherever you stay that there is a good supply of potable water or
facilities to make it.

I first became involved in Haiti in the early 80s when we sent water pumps
to an agricultural school and an orphanage for the deaf and blind. Later we
provided funds for cooking and feeding equipment and locally built desks,
chairs, and blackboards for a 6 grade school.

In 1991 we received a request through a Catholic sister for help from a
coop who had bought land in 1978 to farm but had never brought a crop to
harvest. They had money to drill two wells but no way to get the water out
of the ground in quantity, Gasoline was to expensive and there was no wind
so we selected solar power to run the pumps. In early 1994 I went to Haiti
for the first time to work with the farmers in installing the equipment.
They did all the work, I just showed them how. For almost 6 years now they
have been growing vegetables for themselves, their extended families, the
schools and still have some to sell at market so that they can pay for
their kids schooling. Since then I have been back eight times to install
systems for other groups and coops. Our approach has followed the old adage
of teaching the farmers to fish rather than giving them fish for the day.

You may find out that the urgent needs are for things that you might
consider small. One organization that I am familiar with found that some of
the farmers that were working for landowners had to rent their hoes from
the land owner for an amount about equal to their pay and by setting up a
small micro credit bank they were able to buy the hoes and pay back with
their wages. Another used micro credit to help women in the community get
supplies to do embroidery and sewing. 

The Worcester Massachusetts Diocese has a priest and sister on loan to Les
Cayes and several parishes have twined with parishes in Les Cayes to
provide money for school and uniforms so kids can go to school.  They also
send high school kids from Worcester to Les Cayes on spring break who work
side by side with the kids and get hooked on helping others for life.

Do something and don't be afraid of making mistakes.  The price of progress
is often trouble but doing nothing is worse. Try it you'll like it.

Don't hesitate to contact me on or off of this list and good luck.