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We are here because we care, we care because we love, and we love because of God.
MY SECOND TRIP TO HAITI
(Dec. 3-7, 2009)
People ask how much they should give. I always tell them,
do not be ashame to give what you can because the little
that we give is the BIG that they receive.
I travelled to Haiti a few weeks after Thanksgiving or a few
days before Christmas. These two occasions would not have
been complete without getting a glimpse of my heaven which
is Haiti. Every time I experience or witness abundance in
America, I also feel and taste the suffering of the people in
I believe that my recent trip was almost arranged by the ONE
who is in charge of everything. I was able to bring to Haiti six
boxes of 22"x24" with the total weight of 300 lbs. - all free of
The employees of the TPMG payroll department headed by its
manager, Evelyn Perkins have opened their hearts to the poor
in Haiti. Marina Brill, Marsha Hellstrom, Yasmin Akbari,
Caroline Langton, Chin Peng & Tina Santos contributed cash
and in-kind goods and invited organizations and individuals to
donate medical supplies for the clinics, and backpacks for the
students in Baraderes, Fond-Tortue, and Riviere Froide. They
also contributed for the purchase of school uniforms for the
kindergarten class in Baraderes. St. John the Baptist church
contributed medicines, vitamins, and soccer balls for the
Sister- Parish while the Vicentica Foundation donated
clothings, flashlights, and more than a hundred pairs of
slippers for the orphans, handicapped children and the Little
Aside from delivering gifts, my wish to be able to find the
means to travel to the mountainous city of Fond-Tortue was
granted. Sr. Bernadette, the mother superior of the Little
Sisters was kind enough to let Sr. Jeanne, the
secretary-general to accompany me to Fond-Tortue.
Fond-Tortue, is around 9-hr. drive from the capital city of
Port-au-Prince. St. Elisabeth, the sister-parish of St. John
the Baptist in El Cerrito owns a school that is composed of
750 students and 40 teachers. St. Elisabeth also oversees 7
chapels and 2 dispensaries.
Fr. Constant, the parish priest of St. Elisabeth and his driver,
drove to Riviere Froide to pick us up early on Sunday. We
immediately headed back to Fond-Tortue after the 8AM
The trip was challenged by steep roads of sharp rocks and
potholes. Once or twice, our truck had to cross a river with
rocks underneath; cliffs were on one side and mountain rocks
on the other. However, God was with us and we found no
reason to fear. Even though Fr. Constant and his driver did
not know how to speak English, we all managed to find
humour in little things. They laughed especially when they
heard me trying hard to speak Creole and French.
Two hours before we reached our final destination, we passed
by Baraderes to deliver some backpacks and school uniforms
for the students of Pope John Paul II school. It was a Sunday
but Sr. Alluce, the school principal, received the gifts with
Finally, we reached Fond-Tortue with constant nibbling of
sun-dried banana chips and squeezed grapefruit.
Fr. Constant celebrated a special Mass for us early on Monday
before we met with the teachers and students of the school.
The school building almost looked like an unfinished
construction. Some of the classrooms were separated by
blackboards so two classes could hear each other. We were
told that even though the school lacks resources and more
than half of the students do not pay their tuition due to
financial hardship, the school continues to operate as the
teachers continue to render their services and the students
continue to come to school. The students did not have any
pens or pencils or books. The parents and teachers help one
another in hand-sewing the students' school uniforms as
majority of them do not have any clothes to wear for school.
Among the requests of the teachers were:
1) Increase of salary (currently, each teacher is paid
2) School supplies like pencil, pen, paper, books, etc.; and
3) Sewing machines and other supplies to get the girls
started with home economics subjects.
Sr. Jeanne and I spent the night in Fond-Tortue with a sense
of acceptance that we were going to live with two small pails
of water and deal with total darkness as there was no
electricity even just for a few hours to charge our cellphones
or the camera that I borrowed from her (I accidentally
removed my camera from my hand carry at the SF airport
just before boarding for Haiti).
We travelled back to Riviere Froide after the meeting with the
school teachers. Again, we passed by Baraderes and many
students came out to personally say "thank you" for the
backpacks and school uniforms. It was amazing to see some
students in school uniform holding water containers. Water
supply is a problem in most part of Haiti so the students
bring their own containers to school so they can fetch water
for their families on their way home.
We arrived at Riviere Froide late Monday. John and
Johnny,the famous 6-year-old orphans greeted me with warm
hugs. At that time, the twins were enjoying their last days
with the nuns as their adoptive mother from Berkeley,
California came to take them to their new home in America.
Haitians face a lot of difficulties but I admire the strength of
their character and their great faith in God. I believe that
their true richness is found in their hearts. We too can be
Haitians at heart. If we do not allow material things to
distract us, perhaps we can also see God clearly and enjoy
this kind of richness.
|The school uniforms donated by
Physician Payroll to the
kindergarten class of one of the
schools in Baraderes
|A student fetched water to take home to
|John and Johnny welcoming me back at
|meeting with the teachers of St. Elisabeth,
|At the Port-au-Prince airport. Time to go
back home to California.
|Looking for pen and paper in a
|Meeting with students in each classroom.
|Men and women selling all sorts of stuff on
Men & women selling different kinds of
things on the streets of Port-au-Prince.