The Gift of Hope

Monday, December 19 2011

I’ve just spent a couple of days in Haiti, visiting projects of some partners of Development and Peace. I’ll be here with our delegation until the 21st of this month.

The suffering and poverty of the people defies description. There is some progress to the redevelopment, but it proceeds at a snail’s pace. In the midst of the destitution there are many who are striving with great love and dedication to help people rebuild, not only in material but also in personal terms. It is bearing fruit in a sense of renewed hope for the people to whom I have been introduced, a hope which is giving birth to new beginnings.

We visited one of our partners, Mouvement Paysan Papaye, a partner of D&P, which has been working among peasant farmers in the countryside for many years, forming them in necessary life skills that they may be self-sufficient and earn at least a modest living. The results are gradual, but very promising. I met a woman with nothing, who only recently began to benefit from the accompaniment and help of this movement. She is learning the art of setting up a garden which will provide her and her children with the necessary food and extra that she can sell at the market. Another woman who, with her husband and eight children has been helped by MPP for about fifteen years, has actually been able to send her first three children to university. Finally, we met ten families, who escaped Port-au-Prince into the countryside following the earthquake. They tried to go back to the city, but found that, since they had lost everything, they could no longer live there. They returned to the area served by MPP, and now find themselves in a little village constructed for them. In all of these situations what has struck me the most is the smile of the people that expresses hope. One can sense the return of pride in themselves as they look forward to a new future. Very moving and very encouraging.

Please keep this trip, and especially the people of this beautiful country, in your prayers. More later.

The Most Reverend Richard Smith
Archbishop of Edmonton
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops