Hope is all they have left in Haiti, to aspire for greater things, to dream. Perhaps this generation will have the education, drive and ability to provide the leadership to change the infrastructure of Haiti. “God is great” is what we say because to us Hope is always alive; we are a people of hope. These were some of the sentiments of the Haitians who spoke on a panel during a Day for Haiti. This seminar was hosted on February 28 at St. Raphael Catholic School by CRS – Catholic Relief Services. Catholic Grade schools and High Schools were represented, the place was packed, to listen to the message of Hope, the need for awareness and the request for prayers by CRS for Haiti.
The students were led by Matthew Burkhart from CRS to consider Christ present in the world today. They were shown faces from around the world and were able to Skype with Deomine Blanchard from CRS in the Atlanta office. She raised awareness of Haiti’s condition since the devastating earthquake of 2010 that in 36 seconds destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives. Through the efforts of CRS, fundraising and Operation Rice Bowl CRS alongside the people of Haiti have built over 10,500 shelters, reunited over 1,000 children with their families, created local business and supported the 2,000 Catholic Schools in Haiti. The panel of local Haitians spoke to the problems of the poverty and government in Haiti answering questions from the students. During lunch the students were visited at their tables by a Haitian and were able to discover more about Haiti.
The day ended with the request for action by the students. Students brainstormed to find two ways to help Haiti. Each school reported ideas; raising awareness in their schools through Power Point Presentations, visiting classrooms to tell what they learned, announcing facts about Haiti during the morning announcements. Many students said that prayer for this impoverished country is paramount to help that cause; some wrote their own prayers to be read over the announcements each morning, petitions for School Mass, a Mass dedicated to Haiti and keeping them in our daily prayers. Many schools came up with fund raisers; penny wars, collections, etc. The students were excited and ready to take what they had learned back to their school and parish.
One of the most important lessons learned this day was that even as students they can make a difference. Matt Burkhart said it best when he explained that as Church we have hope and faith that the situation can change and be better. We need to go and be Church to serve the Lord and one another hanging on to that Haitian saying “God is great” and hope is always there.