by Anne Landry
The day last fall when I listened to Patrick and Francoise talk about the First Church/CONASPEH partnership and their work in Haiti, I knew I needed to go there. Before the trip I heard, as so many of you have, impressions and stories from Mark Pohlman, Mary Friedman, Dr. Jay, and others. I read about the history of Haiti. I learned about the many injustices on the part of other countries, including our own, that have held the people of Haiti back since they liberated themselves from slavery in the early 1800s. I learned that the U.S. has interfered in numerous destructive ways over the years and read of the ongoing failure of large and small aid organizations to help Haiti be self-sustaining.
To envision Haiti is one thing. To experience it first-hand is, by several orders of magnitude, quite another. We all know there are those less fortunate than us in material advantages. That disparity is monumental with respect to Haiti. It is a fact, however, that the U.S. has contributed to the lack of infrastructure that would provide the most basic of necessities to Haitians: jobs, running water, adequate shelter, and clean air to breathe. On the other hand, picture this: small children, scrubbed clean in tidy uniforms, walking hand in hand through rubble and trash to school with a parent. School children in brightly-colored uniforms playing and laughing on the dusty slab of earth and concrete that is their schoolyard. Women with covered heads and kind faces gathered in a tiny church on a Tuesday morning, praying and singing. Young college men articulating with passion their ambitions for future work on behalf of Haiti. These are the faces of hope. Through our support of CONASPEH, some of the barriers that would prevent our fellow human beings from realizing their great potential are reduced.
The Haitian people put their abundant faith into action in their relationships with family and friends. I have never felt so welcomed or assured I would be prayed for as I did in Haiti. The people of CONASPEH send you their gratitude and their wishes that God will bless you. Thank you, First Church, and may we continue to expand this partnership with our wonderful friends.