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#2508: United Methodist Haitian Mission Reunites Families, Helps Them Get Fresh Start (fwd)

From: Daniel Schweissing <dan_schweissing@hotmail.com>

>Mission reunites families, helps them get fresh start
>FT. PIERCE, Fla. (USA) -- Franz Brinache left his home in Haiti in 1994 to
>escape the cruelty of the military coup that overthrew President
>Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He left behind his three children, the oldest of 
>was 22.
>Brinache settled here and started the process of getting his children out 
>Haiti. He waited for five years to hear from the Haitian government, and
>during that time asked three immigration assistance agencies for help. He
>paid almost $300 for their services, but got no results.
>A ministry of the United Methodist Haitian Mission here did get results for
>Brinache and is helping many more refugees like him relocate themselves and
>their families to Florida.
>Brinache asked the Rev. Luc Dessieux, pastor of the mission, for help last
>"He comes in here and says, 'Pastor, can you send a letter to the consulate
>in Haiti to see if I can get my children?'" Dessieux said. "Three weeks
>later, he gets a letter back with an appointment for his children to talk 
>immigration. In less than three months, he gets his children.
>"Someone is talking about what good is done? I did the letter for free and
>had success. The guy was so happy, and we have so many stories like that in
>the church."
>With the successes, however, come setbacks for the 300-member, 10-year-old
>mission church. Despite having more than 100 children and as many as 80 
>attending each week, the mission does not have a full-time ministry to 
>group because it lacks volunteers and the financial means to hire staff,
>Dessieux said.
>The church is also closing its food and clothes pantries from lack of 
>and its day-care center because it cannot find a qualified replacement for
>the director, who found another job. It has cut back on its rent and 
>support program until it can find more money.
>Regardless of the limited funds and support, the need is great. Ft. Pierce 
>second to Miami in having the highest concentration of Haitian immigrants 
>the country, according to the Rev. Brice Harris, pastor of First United
>Methodist Church, Pompano Beach, and chairman of the conference's Refugee
>Ministry Task Force.
>Dessieux said 16,000 Haitians live in Ft. Pierce. Most of them work in the
>area's citrus groves or packinghouses for six months of the year, and 80
>percent are functionally illiterate. Many send money to Haiti to help 
>family members still living there.
>Many of the congregation's members "try to do the best they can to pay 
>tithe," Dessieux said. The church also receives support from the Melbourne
>district and its Board of Church Extension, and Dessieux is applying for
>The mission received a $2,000 grant last November from the Florida 
>Church and Society Ministry team that was funded by the conference's share 
>the annual Peace With Justice Special Sunday offering. It will help the
>church expand its ministry to people like Brinache, according to Dessieux,
>who said the mission is helping as many as 150 people deal with their own 
>a family member's immigration challenges.
>For many of them, the greatest hardships are translating and completing 
>and paying associated fees. The fee to apply for permanent residency is 
>per person, up from $95 a year ago, Dessieux said. The form to petition for 
>family member to travel to the United States is $110, up from $80.
>The mission is also working to unite the Haitian community and improve its
>standing in the larger community, Dessieux said. Currently, no Haitians are
>serving in local government and very few are in organizations like the 
>department, hospitals, banks and the courthouse.
>Through the Haitian-American Citizens Club, which he founded in 1995,
>Dessieux and others are petitioning public and civic offices and major
>employers to hire Haitians. He said the police department has recently 
>Haitian officers.
>Despite the challenges, Dessieux said his church does have a plan.
>"Our first responsibility is to preach the Gospel and save as many souls as
>we can," he said. "And through some difficulties, we try to see how we can 
>social services to keep the community moving.
>Reprinted with permission from United Methodist News Service.
>- from Christian Daily News, February 23, 2000
>   http://www.christiannews.org/

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