Dear Friends and Family
During the past week, the Wall Street Journal featured an article referring to the curse of charity in Haiti.
It is certainly true that when “helping someone” is limited to getting them through the day (or through the present disaster) it is just a flash of good will, something like a shooting star. It is as brief as it is beautiful.
The article points out that sometimes charity, in fact, undercuts autonomy, holds people bound in poverty, and that the application of charity can become its own big business.
If it is true that charity can be a curse, it is just as true that the people that we know and work with in rural Haiti are not looking for charity. It is not what they ask for, if given a chance to ask.
Most people in fact ask for a job. If a job is not possible, they ask for some tools to be able to work on their own (garden tools, fishing equipment, a juice squeeze to be able to squeeze and sell juice.)Read more
As we accompany our neighbors in rural Haiti, after the devastation of hurricane Matthew, it is clear that they are eager to replant their gardens, fix their roofs, replace their drowned livestock.
They are eager to give their children something to eat for today, and an education and skill that will make them independent tomorrow.
Unlike a shooting star that cannot be followed to any destination, or even admired for very long, the dream of the rural Haitian people is rather like the north star, a compass and guide, steady and clear.
Since we work with vulnerable children in Haiti, we are concerned about their anxiety for their families and friends in their villages. We are concerned about their anxieties when they see, right outside our gates, homes gardens and schools ravaged.
They are vulnerable children in a vulnerable country, in a vulnerable world.
Anxiety is offset by practical action.
Anxiety is offset by accepting responsibility for the world around us.
The feeling that we are in this together tempers the feeling of helplessness and victimhood.
We are in this together.
We can do something about it.
We care, and in a practical way.
Through the various Churches, town halls and community leaders within our field of mission, our network is like a huge tree, like a sturdy sprawling tree seen on a family ancestry drawing.
This kind of tree does not fall in earthquakes or hurricanes.
The roots are deep, and we are rooted in those roots.
Throughout our wide tree, we can tell you the names of these 5,000 families, where they live, the names of their children, how they are faring.
Together we seek food to tide them over until their gardens yield again in just a few months,
Together we seek the seeds to plant right away so that three months harvest comes real soon.
Together we seek the tarps and tents to help the refugees camped out in our damaged schools live rather under their own humble roofs, until humbly we can build something better together, and school can be a school again.
We already started, the minute Matthew was gone, sharing the short term food help, planting the long term seeds, planning with the families the feeble and later stronger roofs.
It’s about being good neighbors. Old fashioned and wholesome.
It’s what makes the world go around.
As we do this work together, vulnerable children in vulnerable communities are a little bit stronger and a lot more engaged.
Memories of struggling together in hope and with purpose
give another meaning to the howling winds and punishing rains.
Although life now is very tough, already new banana leaves glow bright green as they reach up from the fallen orchards and shield the sun,
And if you listen, the wind already begins to carry the sound of laughter.
If charity can be a curse, friendship is always a blessing.
Thanks for blessing us, and the 5,000 families we stand with.
Your prayers, friendship and generous support are heartwarming, and as beautiful as a starry sky.
We wish for you and your families many blessings from God, our Strength and our Providence!
Fr Rick Frechette CP
Port au Prince