The Our Lady of Perpetual Help Haiti Project is a community-building project based on a twinning relationship between our two church communities.
Together we have worked to build schools, nutrition programs, clean water projects, work training programs, and a sustainable community primary health-care system.
The goal of the OLPH Haiti Project is for this Haitian community to be able to plan and direct their own future.
A brief history of the O.L.P.H. Haiti Project
In 1996 the then Bishop of Richmond Virginia, Walter F. Sullivan, directed the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Salem Virginia to form a twinning relationship with the small town of Lascahobas in central Haiti. This began our journey of understanding, mutual friendship, and of working together to build hope.
The relationship began with a letter of introduction and invitation from our first pastor, Father Polinice Daisma:
Fr. Pol is pictured below writing that letter back in 1996.
The little town of Lascahobas (pictured below) and its people have been very welcoming, and it is upon these relationships with this community over the years that we have been able, working together, to move forward with all of our projects.
Fr. Pol had a dream for some of his parishioners living out in the remote countryside. He wanted to start a small primary school in a valley outpost named Cabestor, near the chapel of Sacre Coeur. These families had no history of being educated in the past.
You can see the first rudimentary school Fr. Pol had started in Cabestor below.
Fr. Pol was not present to see his dream realized, since a new pastor, Father Hermann Heriveaux was entrusted to minister to the parish and spent ten years directing this outpost community of Cabestor to become the full fledged parish of Sacre Coeur. Fr. Hermann (left below) and Tom Fame celebrate the beginning of Sacre Coeur School construction in 2000. Fr. Bertrand is also pictured to the right.
Through Fr. Hermann’s leadership and our fundraising efforts, three primary schools have now been constructed in and around this new parish of Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart) in the rural Cabestor Valley:
Sacre Coeur School – Cabestor
St. Joseph’s School – Roche-Milat
St. Michael’s School – Mon Michel
See: EDUCATION for more details
It was soon found out that these children did not ear regular meals, and so we started providing beans and rice lunches daily, cooked by local women.
See: NUTRITION for more details
And although these school buildings were great, we realized that buildings don’t teach children, teachers do, and teachers require pay to perform their duties.
We have been able to completely staff all three schools with 23 full-time teachers, paying their salaries through the OLPH Haiti Endowment Fund. The earnings from this endowment will ensure these schools functioning into the future.
After educating so many students in primary school, many of the graduates who have passed the National Certificate Exam were asking to go to secondary school. Most of these secondary schools are in Port-au-Prince, the capital city, and there are many security and personal safety issues that are very worrisome and bad for these young people in that large city. In 2011 we started sending some of our students to the new Secondary School of St. Gabriel in nearby Lascahobas. We are working together with the founding pastor of this secondary school, with the agreement that these students will return to Cabestor and work to improve their community. (See EDUCATION for more details)
In November of 2011 a community five-year program was started that built upon these educated young people who have attended our schools since 2001. The program started with ideas obtained through community focus groups. People wanted ideas for improving the public health infrastructure of the community in a sustainable way. Community development and health programs were begun using primary health care models learned through study at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Although these were begun with Fr. Hermann, they continue soon after with our newest pastor Father Rene Blot (photo below).
Browse through our web site for more details on our newest projects.