|Andrew J. Koslosky, Chairman of the Josephine Foundation, Ms. Jacqueline Quinn, a well known fashion designer, Ms. Sarah Fitzpatrick, CEO Haven USA and Fr. Brendan Duggan, pictured at a recent meeting at Fitzpatrick's Hotel NYC.
St. John the Baptist
June 24th was the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist who was the forerunner and cousin of Jesus. John was a fearless man, rather wild in appearance, who came preaching a message of conversion and repentance and in doing so, prepared people to hear and accept the message of Jesus. The church today continues John's preaching mission. John's preaching of condemnation of hypocrisy eventually cost him his life. People did not want to hear John’s message as it required a change of heart. John, being a prophet, had to pay the ultimate price for his witness to the message of God. We too live in a society that fears those who choose to stand up for the truth. Living out the Christian message is challenging to us all.
The gospel tells us about the birth of John the Baptist. Elizabeth, his mother, became pregnant with John late in life. His father, Zechariah, was so shocked at the news of the impending birth of John that he was struck dumb and he only regained his power of speech when he blurted out: "John is his name". You find in the Bible that special children have pretty unique traits or strange events seem to happen when they are born. John was a prophet, chosen by God for a special task and a special child.
Last week I told you I would tell you a little about an organization called Haven which exists to help Haiti and its people. This non governmental organization (NGO) was launched by Irish businessman, Leslie Buckley, and his wife, Carmel, in January 2009. Haven began working in Haiti before the earthquake struck and focused on the provision of emergency relief, shelter, water, sanitation, training and employment. The aim is to provide skills, training and education to communities to become self-reliant and sustainable. Over 1000 people have volunteered for Haven’s "build it week" programs and have traveled to Haiti to build shelter and homes.
Haven’s vision is of a Haiti made up of sustainable communities, free from poverty, with each family having a safe place to call home.
To date over 2000 shelters have been built or repaired. Transitional semi permanent and permanent housing solutions are being provided. Home owners are being allowed to project manage the construction of their own home with guidance and help from HAVEN. Unstable dwellings are being upgraded on their existing sites. As you can see these projects are very laudable.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)
Haven has constructed 1800 latrines and 308 showers. Hygiene promotion workshops and training courses have been implemented. People have been taught basic hygiene and how to recognize and treat symptoms of cholera. 30 wells have been bored, including a gravity-fed water system in one area and 100 rain harvesting water systems. Haven’s WASH program has made a very significant impact on about 12,000 camp residents and numerous communities outside of Port-au-Prince.
Next week I will tell you more about Haven and it's work. I am particularly interested in Haiti as our Holy Ghost Fathers' Missions were established in Port-au-Prince in 1856 with the foundation of College St. Marcial. This big school which once had 2000 students on the role was and still is one of the best schools in Haiti. Excellence in education and health by providing hospitals and health clinics has always characterized Missions' work in so many countries and especially in Haiti. The whole school which once stood in the center of Port-au-Prince, was fatally destroyed by the recent Earthquake. Some 1200 children are now attending this school but they are housed in rather flimsy prefab buildings which the government has provided. I am hopeful that perhaps Haven may be able to help in the construction of some classrooms for this school and help secure its future. Housing for the people is so important, as well as hospitals and clinics. Schools of the caliber of St. Marcial are vital for the future of the youth as Haiti needs good educated leaders. In the past, St. Marcial helped with this great task of educating many of the leaders of Haiti. Many scholarships are also given to poor and needy but extremely talented people to help them attend this school.
The lady in charge of Haven in New York is Ms. Sarah Fitzpatrick and she can be reached at 917 515 8044, or at Haven USA, 575 Fifth Ave, NY, NY 10017. More information is available on www.havenpartnership.com
Fr. Brendan Duggan