Diaspora

Fête for Haiti dinner and auction set for Nov. 5 – Brunswick News

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Sunny. High near 80F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph..
Clear skies. Low 57F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: October 15, 2022 @ 11:58 am
At top, A school aided by Helping Hugs Inc. in Haiti is pictured. Above, People in Côte-de-Fer, Haiti, patiently wait to be seen at the medical clinic set up by missionaries from Helping Hugs. One 95-year-old man walked more than four hours with a cane and then had to walk back up the mountain after being seen.
A water system jointly offered by Helping Hugs and World Water Relief is pictured.
A school aided by Helping Hugs Inc. in Haiti is pictured.
Students in Haiti play instruments previously donated by Helping Hugs INC.
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At top, A school aided by Helping Hugs Inc. in Haiti is pictured. Above, People in Côte-de-Fer, Haiti, patiently wait to be seen at the medical clinic set up by missionaries from Helping Hugs. One 95-year-old man walked more than four hours with a cane and then had to walk back up the mountain after being seen.
A water system jointly offered by Helping Hugs and World Water Relief is pictured.
A school aided by Helping Hugs Inc. in Haiti is pictured.
Students in Haiti play instruments previously donated by Helping Hugs INC.
Prior to its connection with the parish of St. William Catholic Church on St. Simons Island, St. Joseph Parish in Haiti was considered one of the most desperate in its diocese.
“There was no clean water and health care was scarce,” says Father Islaire Faustin, pastor of the parish of St. Joseph Parish.
He described the area as very poor, and the soil as very arid. It boasts around 80,000 inhabitants served by the parish center and 10 chapels.
“Since the partnership of my parish with St. William, many changes are made in people’s lives. Some places that had no drinking water now have either a reservoir or a well. In some places, still water purification systems have been installed which made it possible to better manage the (coronavirus) pandemic and other diseases like cholera and others.”
Helping Hugs for Haiti, a nonprofit organization via which St. William organizes medical missions and shipments of goods, food and medicine to St. Joseph, isn’t resting on its laurels, however, says Mary Lynch, one of the organization’s leaders.
It’s thanks to the support of people of St. William and the Golden Isles at large that the organization has been able to provide so much aid, she said.
“We started with small fundraising projects — Haitian-made angels, decorated Christmas tree — and developed into the Fête for Haiti dinner and auction fundraiser that has been growing every year,” Lynch said.
Since the St. William and St. Joseph churches were paired in 2008, the mission has supplied water filtration systems to communities and schools, and two wells to chapel communities serving around 500 families each; continued the operation of three schools and greatly increasing teacher salaries; provided health care to thousands of people who cannot afford to see a doctor; built a rectory; restored nine chapels damaged by earthquake or hurricane; provided considerable amounts of food during food scarcity; and provided quality seeds for farmers. Lynch said Helping Hugs has also established strong ties with other local groups, including the Brunswick Chapter of the Links Inc., which has helped with raise money for nurse trips, survival kits and medical mission team trainings.
The Brunswick Women’s Club has made financial contributions and given personal care and sewing kits, and several other sewing groups have made small bags and clothing for the people of St. Joseph.
Despite COVID, the Helping Hugs mission continued to provide care for heart issues as well, especially hypertension, with regular visits from a nurse and shipments of medication, Faustin said.
“Also the children of the three schools of the parish are better supported,” he said. “They receive a hot meal every day and materials necessary for their learning.”
To keep the project moving forward, Helping Hugs’ Fête for Haiti raises money via meals and a silent and live auctions. This year’s event is set for Nov. 5 and, ideally, Faustin will be in attendance. Money raised will go toward the ongoing missions and into a new ministry dedicated to improving the ecological and soil quality of the region and improving the status of women. Called the Tree Currency program, it advances these goals with education, and leadership and business training. Women are able to enter equal partnerships and have access to the training provided, Lynch said.
“Farmers receive seeds, tools and training in return for starting a nursery, caring for and planting trees,” she said.
“Haiti has become deforested by farmers needing space to grow food and because they have cut the trees to make charcoal — their main source of energy. The SFA teaches farmers that the trees are more valuable alive than dead.”
Operating the program for five years will cost around $84,000, in addition to a $74,000 grant the Raising Haiti Foundation, and the church needs to raise another $25,000 to get it off the ground.
That’s why they’re hoping the Fête will be a major success.
It will take place at St. William’s parish hall, 2300 Frederica Road. Tickets can be purchased for $65 at helpinghugsinc.org. Due to its success during the COVID-19 pandemic, an online auction is running simultaneously starting midnight Oct. 23 through 9 p.m. Nov. 6 at helpinghugsinc.org.
• For more information or to invite a member of Helping Hugs to speak about the mission, contact Mary Lynch at marylynch45@gmail.com.
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