Workshops for Peace in Haiti
Sister Mary Alban Bouchard created a series of education booklets called Building a Culture of Peace and has been at work giving the workshops with her assistants. She reports on her progress in 2007 in Haiti.
In Jérémie, working with 45 young religious-in-training from six congregations was a delight. I think the seeds will grow.
The workshops in Cap Haitien and Fort Liberté in the north took place as scheduled. We had a former student on the team, Giovanny from Hospice St. Joseph,who now teaches older street boys. He shared his experience, a good way to teach, and sang his new song, The Day the Sun Stayed Down, to go with the booklet of that title. He was a hit!
In Fort Liberté to the east of Cap and bordering the Dominican Republic, the set-up was great with three or four from each parish invited by the bishop whom I had approached when he came to my parish here for a few days. It was fun to see five motorcycles roar up to the door bringing ten from Ouanamenthe on the D.R. frontier! Laurels to Sr.Gina from New Brunswick, a great organizer and friend! At the end, a participant came up to me and said: ‘Thank you. You have brought us life." Who needs a greater reward than that? We all know who brings us life, so I felt God at work!
I was slated to go to Pestel on the coast in Jérémie diocese on Nov. 1, but Cyclone No. 6l intervened and we had to cancel since the boats were not travelling and the mountains were slippery. We have rescheduled.
I've just returned from Les Cayes on the south coast with my fellow-worker Daniel and Sister Janet Speth and, of course, St. Joseph! Don't leave home without him! The location was a very large rural orphanage of the Oblates called Projè Espwa. We were hosted by Dan and his dog Nikita! It was a really hospitable place to be. The workshop was held at the city site where the older children are. The group of nearly forty (including several teachers) was receptive.
We had fun with divergent thinking (finding an alternative). When we were served bread baked in a solar oven at the Oblates, I got the idea to bring a small loaf to the workshop and have them eat a piece as a sample of an alternative to cooking with charcoal. Haiti is being denuded of trees which are used to make charcoal. They use small tree trunks (bake them in the earth) and do not replant. But there is much resistance to the use of solar ovens: takes longer and charcoal cooking tastes better, they insist.
The other good news concerning the Building a Culture of Peace project is that Mme. Jacqueline Lassègue, Minister of Condition of Women and Rights of Women, has undertaken sessions on nonviolence in Cité Soleil and intends to take these around the country. I feel she is an ally and gave her a set of the sixteen booklets when she spoke at the Haitian Religious Conference. She is also working to get violence against women into the law books.
I hope you have enjoyed this taste of Haiti and one of my ministries there.
By Mary Alban Bouchard CSJ