What a year it has been for our world and what a year it has been for Hands Together and Mission Haiti!
In February, we lost our beloved and inspirational Karl Holtsnider to whom we owe gratitude for being the force behind the creation of Mission Haiti twenty years ago. Karl traveled to Haiti many times carrying his camera and notepad to bring home to all of us the realities of life in Haiti. We stumble now without his skills of film production, unlimited desire to bring the plight of the poor to others, and his unfaltering faith in the work. We also bid farewell in July to our dear Frank Ponnet who supported the mission enthusiastically, was a delegate on one of the trips and was always behind the scenes ensuring the success of our appeals, and all Mission Haiti activities at the parish. Their deaths brought great sadness and yet a sense of determination to work diligently and with confidence that we are serving our Lord while walking with the poor, just as Karl and Frank did for so many years. They were and continue to be our blessings.
In Haiti, we struggled with the Covid 19 virus; the Covid variant; continued gang feuds among the ruling factions in the presence of the common people; crumbling infrastructure; a failing economy all leading to higher prices for basic needs such as food and gas; and recently the brutal assassination of the Haitian president that has plummeted the people into an even more dark and dangerous existence. These realities wreaked havoc on the HT budget, the running of schools and the distribution of food and medicine to the poor.
However, as has been the case with our 20-year relationship with Haiti, miracles kept happening throughout the year. The rate of Covid cases in Haiti was lower than in other countries; a peace treaty was signed among gang members with whom Fr. Tom works closely and peace was realized for 100 days; Haitian employees of HT continued to maintain the structures of the organization; a large piece of property was acquired next to the high school with the plan of soon building another school; water and food distributions organized by HT were frequent in the slums throughout the year and a new president of the high school student council was elected. Achille Ytherline’s primary mission is to encourage peace. She plans to work with her fellow students, community members and gang members in the surrounding areas to explore and promote ethical principles including the unity and value of all life, respect for human dignity, nonviolence, justice and love. This should be front page news! A miracle in the form of a young girl determined to work for goodness and peace.
Fr. Tom and President Doug Campbell walk side by side with the people they serve and they do not give up. Neither do you. Thank you for your continued support and prayers for peace in the coming days and for the continued work of Hands Together and Mission Haiti.
Fr. Tom and Doug will be with us September 25 and 26 for our annual appeal. We look forward to worshipping with you then.
Mary Mather Nally and the Mission Haiti Committee