Mission Haiti

Haiti, a small island just a short flight away from the U.S., is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. 78% of Haitians live on less than $2 a day. 50% of children under the age of 5 are malnourished. Undoubtedly, the road that led to this devastation has a complex and painful history.

Haiti was a French colony where hundreds of thousands of African slaves were uprooted from their native lands to produce goods for the French. By the year 1780, Haiti became the most lucrative colony in the world. Eventually the number of slaves in Haiti far outnumbered the French colonists. For every French colonist, there were 10 slaves. By the year 1804, the slaves in Haiti began to revolt, making the first and only slave revolution that lead to the founding of a new country.

Following a brutal rebellion that resulted in the death of 100,000 slaves’ and 24,000 colonists, Haiti finally gained her independence. However, along with independence, Haiti also gained a modern day 21 billion dollar debt. It took many decades to pay this off, and prevented economic growth in this young nation. Without proper infrastructure, resources, and education, it was difficult for Haiti to develop into a unified culture and nation. Since then, Haiti has struggled with corrupt and unstable leaders and a plague of political upheavals which continue to hinder this nation.

Haiti has also been struck by numerous natural disasters. Throughout it’s history, Haiti has suffered cyclones, floods, tropical storms, hurricanes, and earthquakes. In 2008 alone, this small island that is only the size of Maryland, had to withstand 4 hurricanes. Then in 2010, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake that killed 300,000 of it’s citizens. It was at this point that relief efforts from all over the world started pouring in to this small country.

After the earthquake in 2010, the government of Haiti opened a temporary settlement for families who lost their homes. People were relocated to makeshift tents without water and protection from the blazing sun. The sheer number of temporary houses drew many other unfortunate families from surrounding areas. More than four years later, the “temporary” housing called Camp Courail remains as one of the largest slums in Haiti.

Father Isaia Birollo, a Scalabrinian priest, arrived within months to start a mission for this oppressed and neglected community. Although he lacked resources and money, he shared freely with his new community what he had received so abundantly from God: love.

With just one truck, and beginner’s Creole, Fr. Isaia gathered the people together in love and communion under a makeshift shelter in Corail. Soon, he started celebrating Holy Mass and giving sacraments to all those who desired. On this very foundation of love, a beautiful Catholic church was built by the members of this community – a sign of unity and hope for God’s providence. As a result, today more than 5000 families who lack jobs, running water, basic health and other necessities have the potential to meet Christ.

The children, youth and families of Courail serve as the primary missionary focus of Jesus Youth. By working with some of the community leaders of Courail, JY has been able to conduct Kids Kamps, youth retreats and mission trips, family programs and medical camps. Amidst all these events, JY is also working closely to encourage and build up leaders from within community.

The Missionaries of the Scalabrinian Fathers live at the St. Charles Borromeo Complex in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti. This complex holds three Catholic seminaries, houses the Haitian Catholic Episcopal Conference and the Catholic Diocesan Youth Center. There is a medical clinic and school that serves the neighboring villages. Just outside the compound, many settlements have been constructed to house communities that had lost their homes.

This is the housing site for most of the JY mission trips. JY has been working closely with the Scalabrini community who have generously encouraged and supported our presence in Haiti. While living in this compound, the Jesus Youth missionaries have had many joyful and mutually beneficial interactions with the seminarians, staff, medical clinic, school and the larger community that lives in this compound.

Warf Jeremy is considered one of the poorest slums of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city. The poor live in scrap metal shacks just adjacent to the city’s garbage dump. After the 2010 earthquake, a young Catholic community of religous brothers and sisters arrived from Brazil. Truly embodying the spirit of poverty, they built metal shacks for themselves and lived in the slum as one among the poor.

The charism of the community, Missio Belem, is to give the message of joy and hope in poverty, living as Jesus did. They provide for needs such as basic health services, food, education, and spiritual formation. Primarily they work with children – currently caring for more than 600 kids between 2 and 13 years old.

Jesus Youth has worked closely with the community of Missio Belem and has been inspired by their simplicity and the depth of their mission. Most mission trips include a day with this community, serving in their nursery and school and spending time with the sisters and brothers of this community.

From the beginning of JYA missions in Haiti, medical missions have always been a dream. These dreams became a reality in August 2013 with the first exploratory medical mission. Then in 2014, two different groups of lay people and medical professionals traveled to Haiti with a desire for these medical missions expand to become healing missions.

These few trips laid the foundations for the Healing Ministry in Haiti and certain things have proved essential for the fruitfulness of this ministry. While patients are being seen by doctors and nurses, they also have opportunities to pray with the other JY missionaries and in front of the Blessed Sacrament that is exposed throughout the hours of the medical camp.

Amongst battling hunger, disease, unsanitary conditions, and lack of shelter, the poor of Haiti also battle spiritual afflictions. As Catholics and Jesus Youth called to provide true charity, we recognized that it is not simply the body that needs healing but also the soul.

If you feel that God is calling you to this healing ministry, medical professional or not, please express interest at haiti-mission@jesusyouth.us or fill the interest form at the bottom of this page in Take part in the mission.

Education in Haiti is among the poorest in the Western Hemisphere and is far below other Latin and Caribbean countries. Nearly ⅔ of the Haitian population is illiterate. Less than 30% of students make it to the sixth grade and 20% to secondary school. The government does not have sufficient resources for school and scholarships for poor families simply do not exist. The 2010 earthquake further exhausted the education system, destroying schools and displacing nearly 50% of the nation’s students. This in conjunction with significantly increasing tuition costs over the last decade, have made it nearly impossible for a Haitian child to receive a proper education.

Outreach Child Support, an international Jesus Youth initiative, is now offering the opportunity to financially support poor students in Haiti. While education remains the primary focus of OCS, the child will also be followed closely by local JY missionaries to encourage a holistic growth that includes spiritual support and regular family visits. Currently, through monthly donations, several children in Haiti are being sponsored. You can find out more about the vision of OCS at http://www.outreachchildsupport.com

If you are interested in supporting a child in Haiti, please contact office@jesusyouth.us.

“In Haiti my experience was beautiful because I was able to experience Christ through the poor. More than what we could provide for them, they gave us something more valuable, Christ's love. Going there we realize that all you need is love, and that's what unites us as brothers and sisters. Being a missionary is sharing the love of Christ with each other, not being a provider.” – Rickie Jacob, Chicago, IL

“The Haiti mission trip was a two month experience of living in the pursuit of Christ. No retreat or session can match what I learned there because God didn't speak to me through the words of others, but by simply showing me what it was to love. I was stripped of the illusion that loving others was easy or done purely through my own efforts. Through the suffering in Haiti, I began to grasp how Christ suffered the cross and how I needed to lead my life.” – Ebin Joseph, McAllen, TX

“A memory that brings me to tears every time it comes to mind is from the day we spent at the Missionaries of Charity orphanage. I remember one shy boy who kept making me chase him around the playground. After we both got tired of running around, he came up to me and counted to 5 in English. I could see how proud he was to share that little accomplishment with me. I spent the last few minutes we had at the orphanage trying to teach him how to count all the way to 10, but there just wasn’t enough time. Being back home in America and back in school, no matter how tough it gets, that boy’s eagerness to learn always motivates me to make the most of my undeserved opportunities. The Lord says that to those whom much is given, much will be required. This experience taught me that God has given me all these blessings so that I can better serve his kingdom and as well as those who never had all the opportunities I have.” – Sharon Mathew, Atlanta, GA

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