Friday, June 24, 2005

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Fort Liberte

Fort Liberte is beautiful. It's located on the northern coast very close to the Dominican Republic. Yet the poverty and hopelessness of the people was felt the strongest here.

Poverty is all around. The soil is not fertile, making it much more difficult to get food. Most men sit around all day, with no jobs to be had. The women wash their laundry in a pond close by, or cook if there is food that evening. The children sit around or play in the street when they are not doing chores like hauling water.

These street scenes are from the balcony of Bishop Chibly's home. Fr. Jean and I stayed here 3 days and 2 nights. It was a relief to be in Fort Liberte and away for the chaos in Port-au-Prince. The Bishop said that the contrast between those two cities was like heaven and hell. He was right! In Fort Liberte, you were able to walk freely anywhere you wanted to without any fear.

Bishop Chibly was a gracious, kind, intelligent, holy Bishop. We spoke for hours about the problems of Haiti. He is very concerned with his flock and what can be done to change the conditions of Haiti. He is adamant that those helping need to give a hand up, not just a hand out. He spoke of the frustration with some groups that have a good heart, but actually hinder the Haitian people.

Bishop Chibly feels that education is the key to changing Haiti. He feels that through education, people will let go of the voodoo that has become so prevalent in Haiti. Teaching against voodoo is a high priority in all of the Catholic schools as is education excellence and building each child's faith.

The Bishop is currently working on two pilot programs to find jobs, revenue and food for his people. One of the programs is an agriculture pilot, the other a fish farm pilot. It is his hope that he will receive the funding. It is his dream that these programs can be a source of jobs and food for the entire country.

Sunday was first communion. The service in the cathedral started at 7:30am. When Fr. Jean and I left for the airport at 10:45, the service was still going on. The cathedral was still packed after over 3 hours of worship.

Every morning, you woke with the sounds of the church bells ringing at 5:50 am, calling the villagers to the morning 6am mass. You could hear the singing of the people every morning. Musical instruments are rarely seen. Haitian voices are the musical instruments, they harmonize beautifully.

At night, looking over the city from the Bishop's balcony, I could see only 2 houses with any lights on. These two had electricity; the rest of the city was dark, no candles, no flashlights, just darkness. Haiti is just another world. It's hard to believe it's 2005 in Haiti and it is only a 2 1/2 hour
flight from Tampa!
Posted by Hello


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