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Sharing about a visit to Haiti

11/04/2014: Haiti

In February, Brothers Eduardo Navarro (Provincial of Western Mexico) and Agustín Acevedo (Provincial Councilor) visited the Marists in Haiti. The following is an account written by Brother Agustín.

From February 9 to 16 we visited the Marist works in Haiti. It was an intense week to get in touch with the Haiti sector and with Marist life there, which has gradually taken root since our Canadian brothers arrived around 30 years ago to sow, cultivate and harvest Marist life in this beautiful island.

We arrived to Port-au-Prince on the 9th and traveled the next day to Jérémie, where Brothers Antonio Cavazos and Kenny welcomed us. They took us to the postulancy house where there are currently 6 postulants: 3 in the third year, 1 in the second, and 2 in the first. They study at the Normal School in Jérémie, and also follow several Marist courses at home with their formators, Brothers LERS and Rach.

Our next stop was Latiboliére, where brothers Laurent Beauregard, Jean Mance, Toño and Kenny are working. This center includes a morning program of secondary school (3 years) and high school (4 years). In the afternoon they teach around 80 primary-school students whose living conditions do not allow them to attend school in the morning (the so-called “rest-avec” program). This school is located in the mountain region, precisely at the top of a mount, and the area offers a very beautiful landscape of clouds and light at sunrise. The different shades of red bathing nature at sunset also become a wonderful view.

Electricity is a luxury still failing to reach the area, so we used solar-energy lamps. When the electric generator was on, we could use our computers and many students were able to charge their cellphones. In the evening we had a meeting with all the brothers, together with two young men living in the community, and the school director. The night was pleasant despite the attacks of mosquitoes.

The next day we greeted the students at the school, had lunch, and left for Dame Marie, where we met brothers Sergio Cáceres, Chepo Casillas, Toussaint and Wilguins, who are working at Nativity High School and Fatima Elementary School. In the afternoon we had a meeting with the brothers, who shared the joy of working there, and their dreams and hopes about Dame Marie.

The next day we left for Jérémie where we met again with LERS and Rach, and also spoke with the postulants. After a day of rest, we went to Les Cayes with LERS and Toño to take a look at the land where the new postulancy is to be built, and to visit different spots in the city having to do with the formation program. The last day, Saturday, we had an Assembly with all the brothers from the Sector to share about organization and economy issues, and to dream together about the Sector.

The following are some ideas from the Assembly that somehow sum up this visit to Haiti:

  • Thanks to the testimony of our brothers from Canada, and now also from Mexico, there are some young men who envision the option of becoming Haitian Marist Brothers, and the means to make this possible are being ensured.
  • Thanks for sharing the joy of being Brothers in Haiti, and for the joy of seeing new Haitian Brothers, now back after their formation abroad, who are working with the conviction that sowing the seeds of hope is worthwhile.
  • We have seen the energy with which Marist life has been forming so many children and young people, leading the way, firmly investing in the education of Haitian children and young people, and living out Marcellin Champagnat’s ideals.
  • I am surprised by the investment of resources to generate hope in a place where hope is rare and opportunities are scarce, where you struggle against so many habits and customs, knowing that it is essential to work for the dignity and rights of children and young people.
  • The challenge of providing Marist formation to the teachers is clearly perceived. There is an effort to put in place the right structures to guarantee the Marist spirit among them, so as to become “Marist brothers and laity sharing the same mission: evangelizing Haitian children and young people”.
  • We are challenged by the economic sustainability of the Marist work in Haiti; evangelization needs many resources and it is very difficult to generate them within Haiti. We still need to offer support from outside the country.
  • I am fully in tune with the solid investment of resources in the formation of Haitian postulants and novices, so that they can keep loving Jesus and giving their life for the evangelization of children and young people, constructing therefore the Kingdom of God.
  • I am amazed by all the effort to educate Haitian young people through extracurricular activities, moved by the conviction that a small group can make a difference in the Haitian reality.

Thank you, brothers from the Haiti Sector, for giving witness to Marist life among the poorest children and young people in Latin America. May your life continue to be this loud message stating that it is worth spending your life for others!

_________________

Agustín Acevedo FMS

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