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Solidarity Visit to Haiti: 19 December 2011

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kiosqueJacmel is a city in the southeast region of Haiti. A tourist site on the Caribbean Sea, with family links to former Canadian Governor-General the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, it is among the areas in Haiti hardest hit by the January 2010 earthquake. On their journey from Port-au-Prince, the Canadian visitors again had opportunity to see the brutal effects of deforestation on the mountainsides. Trees have been cut extensively to make charcoal for heating and cooking. The torrential rainy seasons have washed away the topsoil in many places, leaving exposed rock, gravel and a pervasive white dust that at night can reduce visibility on roads in places to zero.

Last Updated on Wednesday, December 21 2011

Solidarity Visit to Haiti: 18 December 2011

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cathedraleTo celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the Canadian delegation went to the ruins of the Port-au-Prince Cathedral, which had been destroyed in the earthquake of 12 January 2010. The Mass would be celebrated on the site of the former archdiocesan offices, which had also been left in ruins, and which are in the shadow of the skeleton of the former cathedral. This is also where the then Archbishop, the Most Reverend Joseph Serge Miot, had died during the earthquake with other members of his clergy and diocesan staff. Facing the outside altar were large tents giving shade from the sun. Metal chairs were arranged in rows around the altar for the gathering congregation of about 400 people. Behind the altar was an opening to a chapel. The first Mass of the day had just concluded, with an even larger crowd of people leaving as the Canadian visitors arrived.

Last Updated on Thursday, January 05 2012

Solidarity Visit to Haiti: 17 December 2011

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housesEach day the solidarity visit begins with a celebration of the Eucharist. The entrance verse for Saturday, 17 December, was from the Prophet Isaiah: “Our Lord will come to show mercy to the poor.” The delegation drove later in the morning south of Port-au-Prince to the rural community of Duval. Two staff members from the archdiocesan offices of Caritas Port-au-Prince slowly guided the visitors up steep and rocky mountain trails. The parish has 48,000 Catholics; in part of the parish, 90 per cent of the houses were destroyed in the January 2010 earthquake. Because access is so difficult, it has not been easy to organize assistance or bring in supplies. Aid was also delayed because of the impact of Hurricane Tomas in November 2010. Each new house takes an average of two months to build because transportation is so difficult and so limited.

Last Updated on Tuesday, December 20 2011

Solidarity Visit to Haiti: 16 December 2011

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Return to Port-au-Prince

foyerThe day began with another long and bumpy two-and-a-half hour ride back to Port-au-Prince. Then it took another hour to move through the chaotic city traffic to the Foyer Maurice Sixto. This is a centre for the “rest-avec” – young children whose families in the countryside, too poor to look after them, have sent to other families in the city. The agreement is that the “rest-avec” (“stay with”) children will be fed and educated, while helping the host family. However, in many cases they are exploited, abused physically and sexually, and treated as slaves. The host families are often only slightly less poor than the families in the countryside, and they themselves have little food and few possessions. An estimated 300,000 “rest avec” children live in Haiti’s cities and towns.

Last Updated on Tuesday, December 20 2011

Solidarity Visit to Haiti: 15 December 2011

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villageOn 15 December 2011, the Haiti solidarity visitors travelled about two and a half hours north of Port-au-Prince to the small settlement of Papaye in the Central Plateau, near the town of Hinche. Much of the trip was on a narrow and winding paved road through the mountains, but many kilometres also involved gravelled, rutted dirt roads badly eroded and at times invisible because of the dust in the air. The shoulders of the narrow roads were inhabited by women, men and children, often barefoot, who offered a few items for sale, carried produce, or came and went from school or on other errands.

Last Updated on Monday, December 19 2011

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On January 13th 2010, Most Reverend Vincent Nguyen became Canada’s first Catholic Bishop of East Asian descent. He is the great-grandson of a Vietnamese Martyr.