ENFILED – A local church has an outreach program that stretches all the way to Haiti.
Holy Family Church is building dreams on the island nation, literally. It’s in the process of giving homes to the people in Haiti that were left homeless after Hurricane Matthew decimated the greater Jeremie area on October 3.
“Life in Haiti after the hurricane is something that can’t even be described,” executive director of the Haitian Health Foundation Marilyn Lowney said. “It is not over by any means, this hurricane has left the news but people are still in extreme suffering.”
Lowney said more than 80 percent of buildings, homes and small markets were destroyed, more than 90 percent of crops were wiped out, nearly all animals were killed and food is in extremely short supply.
“Since the hurricane it's been almost continually raining so not only have people lost their homes, they’re wet, they’re very, very sick,” she said.
The Haitian Health Foundation has served Haiti since 1985. It cares for more than 250,000 people in Jeremie and the rural mountain villages and has become the trusted place for people to go for help.
In the last few years, it’s been getting extra aid from Holy Family Church of Enfield.
Father Robert Rousseau has witnessed the devastation first hand with a visit to Haiti 10 years ago.
“It’s very eye opening,” he said. “Tremendous poverty and the medical situation is tremendously difficult.”
He’s encouraged parishioners to make a difference. The church has been raising money for years, first providing the people of Haiti with 150 goats, now it is building homes.
“A year ago in September we decided to go to build houses, as I'm sure you'll see in some of the pictures of these shacks these people live in, they're horrendous,” he said. “For the amount of $1,250 basically a house can be built. We began that a year ago and up until this point the parish has been able to build 15 houses.”
The houses that are being built are known as a “Happy House,” for the impact they have on the people. They’re each a small, concrete building and a major improvement from the shacks many Haitians live in.
“They’re thrilled, they have walls, they’re protected from the elements,” Lowney said. “Normally with those shacks it does not keep out rain, it doesn’t keep out rats, cockroaches, spiders, anything can crawl in, and I’ve heard horror stories about that.”
The church is on its way to raising enough money for eight more. Parishioners have been collecting money every Sunday and a donor promised to match their earnings after this week’s mass, up to $5,000.
“We need to realize were part of a much greater reality,” Father Rousseau said. “That we need each other, we can't make it on our own.”
Lowney encourages you to replace holiday gifts with a donation to the people suffering in Haiti.