Diaspora

Helping Hugs raising money to educate Haitian children – Brunswick News

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Updated: March 27, 2022 @ 1:11 am
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This year marks the 10th since St. William Catholic Church started Helping Hugs Inc. to send money to Haiti to educate children, and the church is once again raising money for the cause.
“Because this is a faith-based organization, we’re living out what our faith tells us we should do to help the poor. That’s primarily what this is for,” said Mary Lynch, who coordinates the program to provide help to the St. Joseph Parish in Côte-de-Fer.
In 2008, St. William was “twinned” with the St. Joseph Parish. It encompasses 10 chapels with three schools between them.
“We were called the Haiti committee at that time. In 2012, we formed the organization, which is Helping Hugs Inc.,” Lynch said. “We have four primary areas in which we work, but education is the first one we started and it has continued all these years.”
The other three areas are construction, water well drilling and medicational missions, she said. St. Williams fundraises for all four, but this time of year is dedicated to the educational mission.
Education is a major need in the island nation. Roughly 80% of children in the country have little to no access to a school, she said.
“At the time (Helping Hugs was founded), there were children in the village of Côte-de-Fer who their families couldn’t afford to send to school, so the pastor at the time wanted to start a school to provide an education for the children,” Lynch said.
While the school program has been a success — paying for 306 elementary school students and scholarships for 30 high school students this year Lynch said the charity has seen great results in the water well drilling efforts as well.
“I think the one we’re proudest of right now is the water. We have drilled two wells in the last year and we’re looking forward to drilling another one this year,” she said.
A well isn’t a single structure, however. It needs a cistern in which to store the water and solar panels to power it.
“We’re still waiting for the solar panels to be delivered,” Lynch said. “COVID delays coupled with violence in Haiti is making it unsafe to travel. We’re trying to find a way to deliver them from Port-au-Prince (Haiti’s capital city).”
On the construction side, the church is funding upgrades and repairs to several religious buildings in St. Joseph Parish following multiple hurricanes, while the medical mission arm of Helping Hugs has been on hold for the last two years.
“Because of the pandemic and because of the (recent gang) violence we have not been able to go on a medical mission, but they’re hoping to go in the fall this year,” Lynch said. “When you get to know the people, you want to help them. Some of us have been able to make the trip and meet them, and you want to help them.”
Until the end of April, first-time donors will have their contributions matched by St. William church, Lynch said.
Tax-deductible donations can be made online at www.helpinghugsinc.org or by mail to Helping Hugs Inc. — Education, P.O. Box 24477, St. Simons Island, GA 31522.
For more information, contact Lynch at marylynch45@gmail.com.
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