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News from Hinche, Carissade, and Pandiassou – courtesy of Mark Coughlin

March 2, 2010

Here is another report from Mark Coughlin of St. Monica’s in Atlanta. He does an amazing job of describing Pere Bourdeau, our efforts in Carissade, and potential long term projects which might be useful. Also some interesting news about the seminary and the plight of the Diocese of Hinche. Read on, and share with your friends

Yesterday, I rose at 5:00 am and went for a very pleasant run up to Pandiassou,
about three miles up the road, where there are several different encampments. I
love running from Hinche out into the countryside and over the years have made
numerous friends along my favorite routes. When I first started doing that, I
created a lot of confusion. In a place where food is hard to come by, it
probably doesn’t seem too sane that I am running long distances just for
exercise. People would shout, “What’s wrong?” or “Don’t run!” They would
literally look to see if someone was chasing me. However, over the years, they
have grown accustomed to seeing the “fou blan” (crazy white foreigner) run by. I
joke a lot with people along the way and and enjoy greeting the hundreds of
country folk, who having left their homes well before dawn, are making their way
several miles on foot into Hinche with heavy loads of produce or hand crafted
items to sell in town. When I arrived up in Pandiassou, I was happy to see that
all the refugee families have high-quality tents provided by the Rotarians. Our
Klorfasil Safe Water gals and Better Health for Haiti guys have done a great job
getting water treatment systems to the folks there and have also provided a lot
of education in the use of the system and other health matters. There are still
some families who need them, though, and we will be addressing that today.

Mass at Sacre Coeur started at 8:00 am and I took some photos and shot a little
video. If Fr. Bourdeau had his way, I would film every mass in it’s entirety,
because he is so proud of the way they celebrate here – and rightly so. It is a
wonderful thing to behold and the beautiful music and singing just lifts me up.
Fr. Bourdeau is a bit like James Brown, in that he is the hardest working man in
the Catholicism business. After mass at SC, we rode back up to Pandiassou so
that Father could celebrate mass in a small church there. After that, we rode
further out into the countryside to one of Sacre Coeur’s chapels at Carrisade.
There, Father preached at a prayer service A big theme in his sermons yesterday
was how the earthquake has reminded us that people are people and wealth does
not make you greater than someone else. Right now in Port au Prince, he pointed
out, rich people, their beautiful home having been destroyed are sleeping in
tents alongside their impoverished neighbors. After the prayer service, we had
an interesting meeting with the local community leaders about a biofuel project
Fr. B. and I want to start up in Carrisade in order to give the folks there a
way to build a better life. The local elders explained that to make the project
work, they need a small lake constructed for irrigation. This would make a huge
difference, not just with the biofuel project, but with their ability to grow
food, which is the first priority. Within a few hours, a committee was formed
and we had located what everyone agreed was a suitable site for the lake. I
could sense their excitement as we walked around the area discussing the
possibilities. Hopefully, before this year is over, the project will be
underway.

Picture of Carissade Chapel, the parish which is supported by St. Bridget's-Cathedral Committee. Mark is describing a possible lake behind the school.

In the afternoon, Boudou drove Michelet and I to some other refugee camps in the
area so that we could check on the water situation. Again, it was clear that our
capable employees have done a terrific job and surely a lot of misery and
illness is being prevent through the Klorfasil Safe Water system in these camps.
Those in the camps who don’t yet have it soon will. Thank God Jon Steele
launched this project and continues to work so hard on it and thank God the
great parishioners of St. Monica’s and others keep it funded. It turned out that
the people in that particular camp recognized me because they had recently seen
a few of my videos, so after we finished our inquiries, I sang my songs about
tooth brushing and hand washing with a very enthusiastic group of refugees, who
in typical Haitian style, were able to sing, laugh and celebrate life, even
though they had lost everything, were many miles from home and had no prospects
for the future.

When we arrived back at Sacre Coeur, Fr. Bourdeau told me that Bishop
Saint-Hilien was waiting to meet with us. You will never meet a warmer person
than him. He told me about all the problems the seminary is going through. The
school of philosophy in Port au Prince was destroyed and 16 seminarians died,
including one from the Hinche diocese named Mario Jean. The 19 who survived lost
all their possessions and have now been relocated to Papay, about 4 miles
outside of Hinche. The good Bishop had no money left to feed them Fortunately,
to his great relief, we were able to present him with a nice sum of cash that
had been raised in our seminarian sponsorship program. He also told us how he
narrowly escaped death in the earthquake when the building he was in collapsed.

I better send this off or you will all start to wonder where I am. Boudou is
going to drive Michelet and I back down to PaP in the morning.

Mark Coughlin

Sent from my PocketPC

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