Charlottesville Tri-Parish Haiti Committee - NEWS BLOG
Haiti Ministry Summary January 2023
St. Michel Parish in Saltadere, Haiti, has been twinned with Parishes in Charlottesville, VA for more than 35 years. St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish and Holy Comforter Parish have supported with prayer, finances and visits, most actively in the last 20 years. When the mission of Our Lady of the Rosary was formed their support was added.
On those first visits in 2005 to 2007, we visited a single parish with an elementary school which met in crumbling cinder block buildings. The only health care was provided by a “nurse” who ran a dispensary out of a few rooms on the rectory grounds.
In 2007, Father Rene Blot and his parish, with the support of the Charlottesville twins, dedicated a new school building. A few years later, ancillary buildings were added. In 2017, renovation of a former clinic building was completed and the St. Michel Clinic was dedicated. Clinic and School are only a short distance apart and were able to share electric power at one time.
Now in 2023, we have been asked to help support the parish of Notre Dame d’Altagrace in Los Cacaos, which was formerly a mission of St. Michel. That means that in Haiti we are supporting and praying for two churches, three priests, two schools and two clinics. Currently, the pastor of St. Michel is Father Aysmith Servil and Father Ludens is the parochial vicar. The pastor of Notre Dame d’Altagrace is Father Isidor.
The school in Los Cacaos is an elementary school and St. Michel School has grades from preschool to grade 13, the final high school year.
The clinics are staffed with Haitian health care providers; doctors, nurses, archivists and lab techs or pharmacy workers. The clinics are part of a group of health centers operating under the Health Care Committee of the Diocese of Hinche and are also part of the state health care system (MSPP).
The Haiti Ministry has about two dozen active members and over 300 supporters. Activities conducted in support of the Haiti Ministry are student sponsorship, Craft fairs, an annual golf tournament, and ongoing sales of notecards, coffee and other items (example: small Easter baskets).
Now when support is needed more than ever due to the political chaos and violence in the country’s large cities, you are invited to support this ministry with prayer, finances and participation.
Visit to Saltadere, Haiti
April 21st, 2021 Members of the Committee leave from Dulles Airport Washington DC for Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and then on to Saltadere for a 10 day stay - Follow them on their journey click here
For the previous trip in March 2020 see below
LAST YEAR VISIT REPORT
March 7th, 2020 Five person group from Charlottesville arrived in Saltadere, Haiti for a week visit to work with our twin parish, its school and clinic, and clean water system for the village Please follow our Blog shown below scroll down please and view the other pages on this site for more information about our programs
Thank you for your support
Saltadere, Haiti Saturday March 7, 2020
From Anne via WhatsApp
Team for visit:
Jim Daniero MD, and daughter Sophie, seen to left
Bob Fromm Clean Water program manager
Monica Walker computer specialist
Anne Knasel MD chair of committee
Anne writes: After a day traveling to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and today traveling via Bianca, DR to Saltadere, we five visitors are safe at the rectory with Father Petina. We visited the clinic and delivered much needed electric fans today. Tomorrow we meet with water committee.
Thanks to all of you at St. Thomas Aquinas Holy Comforter, and Our Lady of the Rosary (Crozet) for your support over the past 15 years.
When we return, we will have a meeting to share the knowledge we have gathered at our twin Parish Please plan to attend to find out more about our mission.
Sunday March 8th, 2020
At church with clinic staff. Djimson ( our translator) will be here soon So far so good.
We had noon meal with clinic staff and then took the medical things to the clinic. Also went by school and Monica was working with the computer teacher
Monday March 9th, 2020
At school today. Sophie and Jim did the note cards with seventh grade. We took the project from Anne's grandchild Juliet's 4th grade class at St. Johns Academy McLean Va to fourth grade at St Michel and gave balloons to first grade.
Tuesday March 10th The group is visiting the Bishop in Hinche.
Points from Bishop Jean about Sustainability Projects: Newly opened by the Diocese - the Cana cafe is very nice. Provides job training for young Haitians. A US donor funded the food warehouse and it is under construction The cemetery and the agriculture projects are on the drawing board. They want to have a Miriga tree plantation and sell tree products. Still want to upgrade the garage project. Idea is to train mechanics while servicing diocese vehicles. Can extend this idea to another project - continuing IT education – providing internet access to community. More details in our report after return - which is shown below
Report of Trip to St. Michel Parish and the community of Saltadere, Haiti
March 7 to 14, 2020
Our twinning parishes have been visiting St. Michel Parish in Saltadere, Haiti for more than 30 years. Initially sporadic, there have been yearly visits since about 2005. During that time we have had yearly visits from the pastor of St. Michel. The three pastors have been Fathers Rene Blot, Ilric Louis Jeune, and currently Eulorge Petina.
Many advances have been made over that time, at parish and school. Village health access and clean water access has improved.
Our trip began on the island of Hispaniola in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. We took a charter bus from there to St. Francis Mission in Banica, a town close to the border with Haiti. Father Petina came from Saltadere to pick us up. From the border crossing, the trip is over dirt roads with many ruts due to erosion. The trip of five to six miles takes about one hour.
As soon as we arrived at the rectory, we were made to feel at home with a wonderful meal, signage to designate room assignments, and cheerful interaction with the rectory cooks and maintenance staff. The rectory’s three dogs rushed up to check us out. On hand also at the rectory was the school secretary who is also the computer teacher.
The rectory building and compound was originally built by Belgian priests who served the area until the arrival in 2000-01 of Father Blot, the first Haitian priest assigned to the parish. The rectory and the church have had some upgrades in electricity and plumbing over the years. We are comfortable there.
Father Petina has improved the church interior and altar space and added an iron railing at the edge of the raised area for the altar. This is an attractive safety feature. Sound amplification assures that all in the church and outside can hear the Mass clearly.
Daily Mass has about twenty to thirty attendees. There were about thirty people for the Rosary on Saturday morning at 5:30 am. Close to 100 attended Stations of the Cross on Friday evening.
St. Michel school comprises 3 preschool classes (3, 4, and 5 year-old) and 13 grades up to Philo (school leaving year). The preschool has its own building. St. Michel School built in 2007 through the generous support of our twinning parishes, has classrooms for all except the 3rd and 4th grades in an older building (the old school structure) and 5th and 6th grades in an adjacent warehouse building converted to classrooms.
On this trip, we brought computers for the school. Monica Walker provided consultation and education to help the students use them for learning and skill development. We obtained some individual students photos from preschool I and second grade. The note card design project was carried out by Sophie and Jim Daniero with the 7th grade class.
At the clinic, Dr. St. Fleur Bodson is the new medical director. He finished is medical school in Port au Prince in 2016 and his social medicine (internship) year in 2017. The head nurse is Bernadotte Michelle and she has been with the clinic from the beginning. She is assisted by two assistant nurses one of whom is a skilled birth attendant. A dentist comes from Port au Prince once a month, situation permitting, and stays to see patients for 3 to 4 Days.
The clinic sees about 10 patients a day. Community health workers visit patients at home. The big day at the clinic is Thursday for the prenatal clinic. Over 28 patients attended when we were there. An equivalent number attend each Thursday so more than 100 prenatal visits per month.
The “water committee” is constituted of local men who are responsible for the clean water system which supplies the community. We saw evidence of recent repairs and learned of other repairs planned. We brought 20 Madi Drop “tablets” for this committee to give to those families who cannot access the clean water system and get their water from the river.
Caritas is Catholic Charities for countries outside the US. Each diocese in Haiti has a Caritas office and this office instructs and advises the local (parish) caritas committee on projects which help the community. Currently Saltadere is benefitting from a project funded by Spain which provides cows, goats and seed for farmers in the area along the border Haiti and Dominican Republic. The local caritas committee also supports meals for the poor and visits the sick at their homes to pray with them.
There is evidence of improvement in the village. There is new home construction, wattle houses being replaced by concrete block construction. There is now partial government electricity –available some during the night. Children from Saltadere are attending University and this year 3 graduates of the Normal School have returned to teach in their home town school of St. Michel. Signs on buildings indicate a business is operating at that house and have increased in number since 2005 and even since the last visit in Fall 2019.