"In imitation of Jesus and Francis, we have an intrinsic desire to help the poor. We choose to build a mutual relationship with the people of Haiti. We wish to accompany them, empower them, and witness with them the love of Christ." --Vision Statement
History and Purpose
Our mission in Haiti is stafffed by Sisters Fidelis and Josephine, but many others help the ministry to thrive, especially our community's Haiti Stateside Committee.We have had a continuous presence in Haiti since 2001, but even before then Sylvania Franciscans had visited regularly. Though we have begun many projects in the field of health and economic development, our main thrust has been the empowering of Haitians themselves through leadership development. To this end we created a development group with them called Kretyen Pwogre Ansanm (Christians Progress Together) whose acronym, KPA, is close to the Creole word "kapab" which means "can." Our aim is to serve the most needy among us.
Updates from Haiti--In Her Own Words--Sister Fidelis Rubbo, OSF
The effects of Hurricane Sandy are being felt throughout our entire region. With Sr. Jo's guidance, our KPA members have helped 240 families to plant black bean gardens, a protein-rich staple here. Continued donations are certainly welcome since many more people could use the same help.
We have finished rebuilding 11 homes and are currently working on another six, providing the corrugated tin and nails for the roofs. Another seven families have been promised help. Others have been requesting tarps which we are out of.
Our resources have been depleted by about 3/4. Some families have been able to get help from their communities to put up the walls of their destroyed homes; others have needed help with buying planks and small donations to feed the workers who are in most instances donating their time.
Some people have needed more corrugated tin than we originally estimated before we saw all the damage first hand. KPA, however, has put a cap on the number of sheets we can donate, so some people are building houses smaller than the ones they originally had.
Everyone is terribly grateful for all the help from the U.S., not only those who are benefitting directly, but those Haitians who are working to aid their neighbors.
Bless you for your generosity. Please keep up the prayers and any other assistance you can give, and spread the word.
Water Purification Efforts
Clean drinking water is an ongoing problem for the people of Haiti and is a major cause of death of children under the age of five. We care greatly about the problem of water deprivation in rural Pestel, Haiti. Through a household survey in Pestel we learned
- People walk on average 2 hours to obtain water
- Most collect water in buckets
- There are no wells
- Many children are dying needlessly every year for lack of clean water
The Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio recently received a grant for from the Toledo Rotary Club Foundation to purchase portable water purification devices for residents of Haiti in the mountains where the Sisters minister. This grant will allow the Sisters to purchase 100 water purification units for residents in five villages above Pestel, 90 miles west of Port-au-Prince, where they have served since 2000. To read the article click here.
In addition to the water purification units. Water Missions International has identified a well-driller
work in Pestel and once a special drill bit comes in, the anticipated drilling work will begin at the end of April 2013!!!
In addition to providing healthcare and the means to clean drinking water for residents in the 14 surrounding villages, the Sisters have created an economic development program to help the Haitians learn how to support themselves.
The Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio recently received a $5,000 grant to help run a Sewing Center they have established in Haiti to assist local residents learn a trade to support themselves. The grant was provided by the Social Justice Fund of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, which was created to help that Congregation of Sisters expand their commitment to those who are economically disenfranchised.
They determined there was an interest from the Haitians to become seamstresses, but with no readily available sewing machines and no reliable electricity to operate them, even if they had them, the project posed serious challenges. The solution to that problem came in the form of Kevin Kretz, a high school student at the Toledo Technology Academy, who was looking for a project to complete his work toward becoming an Eagle Scout. With the help of the Toledo Little Flower Parish Haiti Committee, Kevin and his family secured 17 manual sewing machines, got them in working order and shipped them to Haiti in 2011 to support the Sisters fledgling Sewing Center.
We see linking Haitians and Americans as an important part of our mission. We want Americans to experience the people and culture of Haiti and to build relationships of their own.Dr. Ben Fredrick of the Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania has been a friend of ours for a number of years and has had a great impact on our area. His most recent effort is a children’s health program which has distributed worm medicine and Vitamin A to 12,000 children.Little Flower Parish of Toledo, OH is twinned with our parish of St. Joseph in Pestel. Other groups who have established a helping relationship with our people are Transfiguration of the Lord Parish in Upper Sandusky, OH; St. Andrew School in Columbus, OH; St. Joseph School in Lake Orion, MI; and St. Odilia’s Faith Formation program in Shoreview, MN. We are grateful to them and to all our wonderfully caring donors who are true partners in our ministry.
Donations toward our ministry are warmly accepted. To donate, please contact Sister Carol Ann Grace, 419-824-3625, email@example.com. Dentists are always in great demand in Haiti, mostly for pulling teeth. If you are interested in learning more, please e-mail us at Haiti@sistersosf.org.
Please see Dr. Ben’s blog at http://www.thrivingvillages.com for videos, pictures, human interest stories and more information about ministry in the Pestel area.