Find Fulfillment by Filling the Needs of the Poorest of the Poor

Alix Cethoute was fifteen years old when his dad, a tailor, migrated to the United States, to give his family a life that most Haitians can only dream about. Here is Alix’ story:

During my teenage years I would return to Haiti to spend a few days with friends and relatives.  But I never stayed too long, and I always considered myself a visitor.  Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere.  And I was aware of this great poverty in Haiti, because you cannot go anywhere without noticing it.  But I never allowed myself to get too close to it and I never wanted to touch it.  Having escaped the grinding poverty of Haiti, I suppose, unconsciously at least, I wanted to remain aloof from it. It’s surprising what you don’t see if you don’t look for it.

Then in 2001 I went on a pilgrimage to Haiti with 12 other St. Philip parishioners, and my life has never been the same since.  The faces of the poor were engraved forever on my soul. They were no longer anonymous; they were my suffering soulmates.

Mathew’s words – “I was hungry, and you fed me, thirsty and you gave Me drink… naked and you clothed me” did not hold much meaning for me.  But in Haiti, they hit me hard.  In Haiti, I found Jesus Christ for the first time in my life.  I found Him in the children, whose stomach were bloated and whose naturally dark hair had turned bright orange from malnourishment.  And yet they still knew how to smile that special smile of an innocent child unaware of their own suffering.  And I found Jesus in a Dad pacing outside the children’s health clinic in Boileau, caressing and kissing the face of his feverish two-year-old daughter as he tried to rub away her tears.  He had been waiting for four hours to see the doctor.  But he did not complain.  He just did not want his daughter to die.  I have four children, and my first child was a little girl who very much resembled that sick little girl in Boileau.  I immediately put myself in that gentleman shoes and, even though I am not the emotional type, I wept.  That could have been my little baby girl.  I went and begged the doctor to see that little girl that day, yes, I begged him.  And when the doctor escorted the dad and his baby into the clinic, I felt like I had rescued that baby.  God only knows.  But what I do know is that I went on that pilgrimage for a reason.  It was a calling from God, it was loud, and it was clear.  He wanted me to do everything I could to help my poor brothers and sisters in Haiti.

Since then my objective to accumulate everything I could for myself and my family seemed and continues to be senseless.  I knew then and strongly continue to believe that the only way I will ever find fulfillment is by filling the needs of the poorest of the poor.  If I don’t, I have missed my calling.  If you had touched them, if you had held them in your arms, you would know how I feel.  I suffer with them and always will, so long as they suffer. Their heartache was my heartache, their tears were my tears, their tragedy was my tragedy.  Today their heartache is still my heartache, their tears are still my tears, their tragedy is still my tragedy.  Please help my poor brothers and sisters in Haiti.  Join hands with me in our ministry of mercy and love.  I promise you God will reward you for it.

Thank you,
Alix Cethoute

Beautiful Haitian Artwork – Reminders of Haiti

Ellen Cote went to Haiti with us in 2013.  Her primary goal was to see firsthand what Haiti was all about.  Nothing could have prepared her for the crushing poverty.  The Haitian people touched her heart and she brought home some memories from some of the local artists.  Below is her story:

People were living by the side of the road in cardboard huts with their meager belongings nearby.  Some people didn’t even have a box, they just sat on a piece of cardboard.  Port-au-Prince was covered in a brownish gray dust. The trees were too.  The only real color was the city buses which were painted in the traditional style of Haiti with bright cheerful colors.

Haitian Pilgrims and Food for the Poor are involved in countless ways providing much needed services in Haiti.  We visited several sites which included Food for The Poor’s meal distribution site, an orphanage, a community for the elderly, a village where homes were being constructed. and a primary school. At every site we found the people to be very friendly.  The children were very curious and when given the opportunity would reach out and touch our hair and faces.  They touched our hearts as well. I will never forget them.

Before leaving we shopped at an artist co-op where we were introduced to amazing Haitian art. Every possible material was used to create countless objects.  Beautiful wooden boxes and crosses, beaded jewelry, oil paintings, Christmas ornaments and more filled the shop. It is safe to say I contributed to the local economy as best I could.  They are reminders of this memorable trip.

Scholarships

In 2012, Haitian Pilgrims established a college scholarship program in honor of Moise Nacier, who volunteered hundreds of hours to help our organization establish a strong relationship with the people of Boileau. Moise was Haitian and strongly believed in the value of education, as well as, being faithful to God, family, and community. Moise believed that supporting Haitian students in their pursuit of higher education was key to creating positive opportunities for the individual and Haiti.

Pierre-Louis Claudy and Desir Clerdyne were the first scholarship recipients of the Moise Nacier Scholarship Program in 2013. The students enrolled in a three-year primary teacher certification program and attended the Centre de Formation des Normaliens en Education Prescolaire et Fondamentale. The following year, Laurence Lebossiere was awarded the Moise Nacier Scholarship and he enrolled in a two year kindergarten teacher certificate program and attended École Normale de Jardinières D’Enfants des Cayes. All three scholarship beneficiaries graduated from their respective colleges in 2016 and began teaching at St. Therese School in Boileau.

In the fall of 2015, five graduates of St. Therese School were awarded Moise Nacier scholarships to enroll in collegiate degree programs. Wilke Raime currently attends Bishop Tharp Business & Technology Institute at the Université Episcopale d’Haïti pursuing an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science in Computer Systems and Support Technology. Saphine Destinas is pursuing a degree in economics at Université d’Etat d’Haïti École de Droit et Des Sciences Économiques des Cayes.  Marc-Donald Maitre and Chilove Iloxi are attending the Université Notre Dame d’Haïti for degrees in Agronomy. Kernsty Jeannot also attends Université Notre Dame d’Haïti, but is pursuing a degree in nursing. The students are expected to graduate between 2018 and 2020.

Fall 2017, two members of the Haitian Pilgrims Board, flew to Haiti to conduct in-person interviews with the 2017 scholarship candidates for the first time. Student applicants were required to successfully complete their school studies, pass the Haitian Department of Education’s National Exam, and submit letters of appeal and recommendation in addition to the interview. President of Haitian Pilgrims Board, Sue Ogle, relished the experience saying, “[The interview process] brought us so much closer to understanding these candidates and assess their preparation to successfully complete collegiate studies and determine their commitment to helping Haiti once they complete their degree.” Seven scholars were selected to receive the Moise Nacier Scholarship this year. Natalie Magloire, Fabienne Cadet, and Beauminois Gusma will pursue a five-year degree in Agronomy and Maitre Samantha, Mislaure Augustine, Berrith Catiana, and Ronise Pierre will pursue a four-year degree in Nursing at the Université Notre Dame d’Haïti.

Scholarship awards include school tuition and fees, books, university materials, uniforms, a laptop computer, and $150 annual stipend for miscellaneous expenses. If you are interested in contributing to our scholarship fund, please consider making a donation via PayPal.

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