OUR HAITI MISSION – MANY MINISTRIES
The Rhode Island Haiti Mission is a mission of presence, of hospitality and relationships. It is one mission with many ministries — a partnership of churches of the Rhode Island Conference UCC together with churches of the MEBB and people of Haiti guided by the Haiti Task Force which is chaired by Suzanne Swanson.
It all began in 1990 in the home of Rev. Donald and Carolyn Krohn in Warwick, RI. When Rev. Dr. H. Daehler Hayes , Conference Minister at the time met at the invitation of Rev. Don and Carolyn Krohn with Rev. Jean and Jeanette Dorisca, the founders of the Mission Evangelique Baptiste Bethesda (MEBB) a small denomination of churches in Haiti. Rose Dorisca Desilus, a daughter of the Doriscas and her spouse Harold and three sons were active members of the Warwick First Congregational United Church of Christ at the time.
Rev. Hayes and Rev. Krohn accepted an invitation to visit the churches in Haiti and in April of 1990 they, along with Rev. Dorisca, visited 26 churches by rental car and the partnership was underway.
The United Church of Christ works with indigenous churches helping them with human, technical and financial resources to do their mission. To date many delegations of nurses, doctors, pharmacists, teachers and other interested persons (older and younger) have journeyed to Haiti on week- long missions to and with church and community people of Haiti. After the death of Rev. Jean Dorisca, the founder of the MEBB churches, his widow, Jeannette carries on in amazing ways and his son Rev. Alex Dorisca serves as the main contact person. Our Haiti Mission Ministries are manifold. Delegations have staffed clinics in cities and villages in many parts of Haiti, sometimes with Haitian medical personnel and sometimes on our own in the MEBB churches and schools in some very remote locations. Tons of mostly non-prescription drugs, vitamins and medical equipment have been hauled to Haiti by the delegations, and facilities have been constructed by Haitian construction workers funded by church and individual gifts as well as fundraising projects of the Haiti Task Force.
Hospitality is a shared experience between our Haitian partners and those of us who go to Haiti in delegations. Wonderful relationships have formed and they nurture the mission efforts here and there. Thanks to the internet and cellular phone, communication between Haiti and RI is daily thanks to the interpreters who have been so very helpful. Rev. Hayes has helped lead delegations to Haiti 31 times since 1990, and Suzanne Swanson, chair of the Haiti Task Force, has helped lead 27 delegations since 1997. Over the years we have raised and spent nearly $1,000,000 through church and individual gifts and fundraisers including our very successful annual Haiti Hooplas organized and coordinated by Janet Igo.
The Ministries of the Haiti Task Force – MEBB/UCC Partnership:
- Building and staffing schools and clinics including supplemental salaries of doctors, nurses, teachers and other school staff at 7 locations throughout Haiti.
- Over 1,000 students in the primary grades~ Most of whom are on sponsorship for tuition, books and uniforms.
- The Clinics are provided with thousands of pounds of medicines, vitamins and donated funds.
- We rely on a group of young translators fluent in English who in exchange for their translating Creole to English for our doctors, nurses and others receive financial assistance for college studies and medical school. (Dr. Sem Victorin, the director of a large clinic outside Port au Prince is a product of our Haiti mission and two others are currently in med school.)
- Mission on the Street – Rieulle Paulette #11. Our delegations have stayed in a neighborhood cement block house operated by the Fontemara congregation of the MEBB. We have many friends up and down the small street and have twice paid our Haitian contractors to repair washed out sections of the street.
- Building projects include: A 60 X 90 ft. auditorium seating 1100 people in the village of TiMarche. This is the location of the annual MEBB Convention in August and many other community–wide events (weddings, graduations, festivals, funerals, etc.) We have also provided technical assistance and funds to build a 100 x 110’ three story masonry building providing a daily neighborhood clinic, elementary school (with 230 students and a church seating 1,000 people in a new section in Upper Fontamara in Port au Prince where there had been no such facilities.
- Water Wells – The Haiti Mission has coordinated the drilling of 3 community water wells in TiMarche, LaFerone, and Archaie. OUR CHURCH RAISED THE MONEY FOR THE WELL AT ARCHAIE and it is dedicated in memory of one of our young members, Jim MacDonald. Each well was drilled by the Blue Ridge Mennonite Mission at a cost to our mission of $3,000 each.
- Worship – Faith is the foundation of the MEBB/UCC Partnership and worship is a vital part of our mission. Delegations worship in various MEBB churches when in Haiti and there are informal daily devotions in the house where we stay.
- Sports – Football ( we say soccer) is “the game” of Haiti and we provide soccer balls to schools and neighborhoods. Thanks to the generosity of several individuals we have outfitted a men’s team, Flaman Nwa, in TiMarche. In league play and in area tournaments they have learned teamwork.
- Adult Work Education Programs – Through the Haiti mission’s interest in job readiness for those we’ve helped educate and through the entrepreneurial efforts of Carter Cassion and several friends, we have been offering training in computer science, driving, cooking and English to 75 Haitian young adult women and men on a very low fee basis. The startup money for a very modest rent at two sites and minimal staff salaries were being provided by our Haiti Task Force. This enterprise was destroyed by the earthquake. The Task Force has personally supported students in tying to get jobs and have been personal advocates.
- Emergency relief has been an important response to natural disasters. Food has been distributed through our clinics in the various towns.
The UCCRI Haiti Mission is about storied relationships, about a God who loves enormously, and about people who care deeply for each other.