|1. Where is Haiti?
Haiti occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola, in the Caribbean. It shares this island
with the Dominican Republic. Located just a couple of hundred miles south of Florida, it is one of our
closest neighbors, yet is one of the poorest countries in the world.
2. Why is Haiti so poor?
In his book, Song of Haiti, Barry Paris states that "In the beginning God created heaven and earth.
Something like hell was created later by man, on a Caribbean island which had been a tropical
paradise before the Europeans arrived. By the time they withdrew, Haiti's native population had
been exterminated, its land exhausted, and its brutally imported Africans left to rot in poverty."
Indeed, this island was a tropical paradise when Christopher Columbus landed there in 1492.
However, within fifty years the native population had been extinguished and the Spanish and French
eventually began to import Africans as slaves to work on the lush plantations that they established.
But the Europeans did not simply withdraw, these Haitian slaves won their independence from the
French after a decade of fierce fighting. In 1804, Haiti became the world's first black republic.
Unfortunately, it also became the pariah of the western world with even the United States, at the time
a slave holding country, shunning it. The Haitians were isolated on an island whose resources had
been greatly exhausted. From there it got worse. Over the next two hundred years, Haiti was unable
to establish a stable and fair government and judicial system. Many factors, both internal and
external, prevented it from doing so. This may be the single most important cause of their poverty
and this problem still exists today. It is unlikely that Haiti will ever emerge from poverty until such a
system is established. In the meanwhile, the people there need our help. They need clean water,
food, housing, medical care, and education. These are the things we are doing in the village of
LaCroix. These people are our neighbors, living on our doorstep. Let's help them.
3. Who is Pastor Pierre?
Born in Haiti, Vaugelas Pierre was orphaned at a young age.He and his sister, Rita, were starving
when he was found by Mennonite missionaries who sent him away to be educated. After receiving
an education, he could have fled the crushing poverty of his country. Instead, he decided to stay and
become a "missionary in my own country". Along with his wife Erimithe, he founded the New
Testament Mission at LaCroix. This school has been educating and feeding the children of LaCroix
for the past twenty years. This is an amazing thing, since most of the children of Haiti have no access
to a formal education. Rita managed to get training in nursing skills and now serves as the school
nurse. This school is a wondrous place to see, a place of hope and inspiration in a land of dire
poverty. About seven years ago a medical clinic was added so that now the community has basic
medical care as well. This clinic is staffed by Haitian nurses, but we hope to get a doctor and dentist
there as well.
4. How is the LaCroix school and clinic funded?
The LaCroix school is largely supported by a few churches in the United States. They send both
money and volunteers to help with water, construction, education, and medical projects. There is a
sponsorship program whereby sponsors from the U.S. pay $20 per month to send a child to the
school where they get an education as well one meal per day. This school is the center of life in
LaCroix and many children walk several miles each day to attend. There are also several satellite
schools in remote areas in the mountains around LaCroix that are part of this program. All told there
are more than 2000 kids enrolled. The medical clinic charges a small fee to patients, the equivalent of
about 40 cents per visit. It receives donations of medical supplies from the medical volunteers who
go there a couple of times each year.
5. What new projects are underway in LaCroix?
The Community of Hope is a building project that is currently underway to provide housing for the
families in LaCroix. A maternity clinic, next to the existing medical clinic, is nearing completion. As
mentioned on our home page, an onsite residence for medical personnel is our next project. It will
provide housing so that a Haitian doctor and dentist can be present year round to improve the
medical care for the community.
6. With all of the problems and needs of the world, including the recent disasters in our country, why
donate money to Haiti?
Simply put, the people of Haiti are the poorest of the poor. By donating to this cause, you will be
helping some of the neediest people on earth. This is a chance to recognize and help our noble
neighbors to the south.