|April 9, 2012 • VOL. 50, NO. 7 • Oakland, CA|
| St. Columba's Hope for Haiti
"Rend your hearts and not your garments," admonishes the prophet Joel during our Lenten season. Rending our hearts involves breaking them open in love, reaching out to others, recognizing our "neighbor" as those most in need.
For the second year, Hope for Haiti: Education is raising funds to sponsor 170 Haitian children from kindergarten through middle school, who would not otherwise be able to attend school. The approximately $200 per child covers tuition, uniforms, books and materials.
Volunteers from the Gran Ravin Human Rights Council, a nonpartisan interfaith organization, help identify the neediest children, purchase materials and negotiate for monthly tuition payments with five religiously based schools that have accepted the children, one of which is St. Mary Magdalen, a Catholic school.
St. Columba parishioner Tom Luce made a first-year site visit last June to meet with the children, assure fiscal accountability, plan for the future and learn more of the needs of the people. He also brought hundreds of pencil sharpeners and other school supplies, because children had been using razors to sharpen pencils, when they had pencils.
The children and their parents expressed deep gratitude and a desire to be able to continue their education at this first annual visit. The video and photos of beaming, singing children contrasted with the dire conditions in which the people live and the desperate pleas made by parents for food and clean drinking water. See this on the web at http://mouvmansoda.org/Fest/index2.html.
Two years after the devastating earthquake shook Haiti, heartbreaking poverty persists. Education represents a path to hope, and this type of grassroots effort is one of the best ways to reach people in need. Schooling near their homes keeps children off the streets and from being driven into orphanages, child labor as "restaveks" or forced into the sex trade. Education does represent a major hope for these children and for the future of Haiti.
St. Columba continues to solicit sponsors who can commit to $200 to send one child to school for one year. This is such a simple way to have a huge impact on one child, one family and an entire country. For an individual, this is $20 a month, or 10 people can come together to sponsor a child's education by each giving $20. Every penny goes to the child's education.
Donations can be made to St. Columba (memo: "Haiti Committee), at 6401 San Pablo Ave., Oakland 94608. Find us on Facebook: "Hope for Haiti: Education" for future fundraisers and more information.
(Judy Luce and Michelle Baptiste are core members of the Haiti Committee at St. Columba Parish.)
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