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.

2016 Exploration Pilgrimage – Day 1

Today was a day of travel, beginning with our wake-up at 3:00am so we could get to the airport for our 5am flight to Miami and then on to Haiti.

I sat next to a Haitian woman who was beautiful dressed in a silk jacket and dress with a matching hat and purse.  She spoke no English and she hummed while we waited for the plane to take off.  I could tell she was very nervous and when the stewards handed out the immigration forms, I felt so helpless that I could not explain to her how to fill it out.  The Stewards were so busy with handing out drinks and snacks that she finally just asked the people in front of her to help.
She hummed her songs the whole flight – and it was amazingly peaceful.

After landing in Port-Au-Prince around 1pm EST, Alix picked us up and took us to visit his Aunt  She served us traditional Haitian spaghetti and surprised me with a cake for my birthday, which I’m not allowed to see until tomorrow.  Then we were back in the car to drive to Boileau and what a crazy drive we took – the pictures don’t do it justice.  It was like fish swimming in the ocean, but total chaos instead of graceful 🙂  I am still amazed we got out of there without getting injured or killing someone!  We passed so many sights that were indescribable – trash everywhere on the roads, broken down homes, people everywhere, dogs, cows, donkeys in the roads, people in tap-taps  – these are Haitian Ubers, loaded with people, going who knows where.  There were so many people on the streets, it was crazy.   We finally got out of the city into the more lush area of the island.  The ocean views were beautiful and I can’t wait to actually stop and see it.  We made it into Boileau around 5:45.  It was so exciting to finally see the village we have spent so many years supporting.  Father Ingrid had a feast prepared for us – pork, goat, fried plantains, salad, rice, a french slaw that was delicious and of course a bottle of wine.  After dinner we drove down to Martineau to the Nova facility where we are staying in the evenings.  We then wrapped up the night preparing for our first village tour (Flamand) tomorrow.

Please keep us in your prayers and ask the Lord to guide us on our mission to find our new village.

– MaryLynn Hilton