Haiti Updates

Haiti Updates

Two Haiti Updates, one from from Mary Busby

and the other from Barbara Wander

(Read the letters, in their entirety, below)

A Haiti Update from an eyewitness of the earthquake, Barbara Wander, who, for over ten years, has worked closely with the Les Petites Soeurs de Ste. Therese, an indigenous order of Haitian Sisters, who have forty-two missions throughout Haiti. Campus Ministry and FACE AIDS cosponsored a presentation by Barbara Wander at HNU, on Earth Day, April 22, 2010, and sold dolly pins, which many HNU students helped to make .

“Thanks to the sale of Dolly Pins, some of which the students at Holy Names University helped to make, and the sale of bird houses and tea towels, made by students at San Geronimo Open Classroom School, as well as a fundraiser they had, the students at the Riviere Froide School in Haiti were able to have lunches for the first time since the earthquake a year before. Also, 17 of the students in the Handicapped* Program at Riviere Froide have worked hard and are now ready to attend either the morning or afternoon elementary schools. We were able to give all 17 children scholarships for school.

A Haiti Update from Mary Busby, from Sagrada, coordinator and liturgist of the Haiti Benefit and Vespers Service, “Magdalene’s Embrace,” cosponsored by HNU. The event took place in the Valley Center for Performing Arts, on the evening of March 3, 2011, and several students volunteered at the event, including

: Valerie Alto, Karlo Campana, Edrian Luna, Maribel Lopez, Robert Lopez, Misty Martinez, Franklin “O” Nwagwu, Mark Salvacruz, Meaghan Souther, Agnes Sylvestro, Bridget Vazquez. To contribute to the benefit, The A.L.I.V.E. Club launched a corresponding school-wide bracelet-making fundraiser for Haiti relief:

“The donations raised total $7,400.00 and the Sisters have decided this will go toward the building of several classrooms at the school in Baraderes, Haiti. The children are still having classes under tarps there and this will be such an improvement, especially with hurricane season around the corner. Another outcome is that several people who heard about the March 3rd event but were unable to attend have contacted Barb directly and are organizing their own fundraisers for the Little Sisters. So your efforts are already multiplying.”



A copy Mary Busby’s letter, in its entirety:

I want to once again thank all of you who participated in “Magdalene’s Embrace” on March 3. In the words of an old Shaker saying, you put your “hands to work and hearts to God.” Voices, feet, hands and breath – each person’s gift completed the whole, filling the chalice of our offering. It is difficult to adequately express my gratitude to each one of you for saying “yes” to the vision.

At the end of the vespers, Barb Wander (our contact with the Little Sisters of St Therese in Haiti) told me she had been on the phone that morning with the Sisters and they wanted to thank all the musicians and dancers and everyone who was volunteering for this event. They would be keeping a vigil in their chapel at the same time we were in the theater, which means they were up at midnight their time – together we were building a little bridge of prayer between Haiti and Oakland.

The donations raised total $7,400.00 and the Sisters have decided this will go toward the building of several classrooms at the school in Baraderes, Haiti. The children are still having classes under tarps there and this will be such an improvement, especially with hurricane season around the corner. Another outcome is that several people who heard about the March 3rd event but were unable to attend have contacted Barb directly and are organizing their own fundraisers for the Little Sisters. So your efforts are already multiplying.

Many comments have come in and I would like to share just a few with you:

“I was so deeply touched tonight; I have no tears – I left them all there in the theater.”

“The music and singing were sublime.”

“It felt like I was being held by each song, word, and dance – and in my work, I do most of the holding.”

“I rarely have experienced dance in liturgy where I felt the message coming through so

clearly.”

“The children – their singing and their joy – broke open my heart.”

Finally, some of you have asked for the text of the Rilke poem that Carlo read at the close of the evening:

Whom should I turn to

if not the one whose darkness is darker than night,

the only one who keeps vigil with no candle,

the deep one, whose being I trust -

for it breaks through the earth into trees,

and rises, when I bow my head,

faint as a fragrance from the soil.

(R.M. Rilke, from The Book of Hours)

Both Carlo and I thank you again for the beautiful and rich outpouring of so many generous hearts.

With love and gratitude,

Mary

A copy Barbara Wander’s letter, in its entirety:

Thanks to the sale of Dolly Pins, some of which the students at Holy Names University helped to make, and the sale of bird houses and tea towels, made by students at San Geronimo Open Classroom School, as well as a fundraiser they had, the students at the Riviere Froide School in Haiti were able to have lunches for the first time since the earthquake a year before. Also, 17 of the students in the Handicapped* Program at Riviere Froide have worked hard and are now ready to attend either the morning or afternoon elementary schools. We were able to give all 17 children scholarships for school.

In Haiti there are very few public schools and most are parochial and private schools requiring tuition. Most schools operate from 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM because it gets very hot there. There are three schools at Riviere Froide. There is an elementary morning school with 712 students and 14 teachers. The yearly tuition is about $45. The teachers make about $125 per month. About 50% of the students are paying the tuition and the teachers are paid when there is money. The secondary school has 265 students and the tuition is about $200 dollars per year. About the same percentage are able to pay the tuition. There is also an elementary afternoon school. This school is for the poorest students, many of whom are older and have never had the opportunity to go to school. It was this afternoon school that was in session when the earthquake hit last January. About 150 students and 4 teachers lost their lives. Prior to the earthquake we had 350 students. As of October 2010 we had 113 students and by January our enrollment was 263. The yearly tuition is $25 and about 25% of the students are able to pay this. The 9 afternoon school teachers are paid about $100 per month when this is possible.

The Little Sisters in Haiti and all of the students send their sincere thanks for all of your efforts.

*Although it may sound insensitive to our ears, Barbara Wander uses the word “handicapped” to be in keeping with the terminology used by the Haitians themselves, with only the best of intentions.

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