The Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board has been a long time supporter of St. Joseph‘s Family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. St. Joseph‘s is comprised of two homes for boys who formerly lived on the streets or as child slaves. A third home is for children who are both developmentally and physically handicapped.
When HWCDSB sponsored a visit by St. Joseph‘s Resurrection Dance Theatre to our schools in the fall of 2007, students from Cathedral High School decided to return the friendship by visiting their homes in Haiti. Since that time Cathedral students have travelled to Haiti four times, missing only 2010, the year of the devastating earthquake.
At Wings of Hope, our first stop in Fermathe, we join the children in their daily activities of school, play, and physical therapy. Many of the children require help eating, and these moments create a special bond between Cathedral‘s students and their Haitian friends. A highlight is taking several of the children out for lunch to the local Baptist Mission restaurant. This parade of Haitians and Canadians, among the crowded vendors lining the potholed streets, creates a memorable sight indeed!
In Jacmel on the south coast we meet the boys of Trinity House, St. Joseph‘s second home for boys. This home reaches out to the local neighbourhood by operating a school for children whose families could never afford their education. Cathedral‘s students sit in on classes and play with the school children at recess. We are inspired not only by their impeccably neat uniforms, but even more by their strong desire to learn and participate in class. A highlight of our visit is always a trip to the warm Caribbean beach with our Haitian hosts.
At St. Joseph‘s Home for Boys, the original community founded in 1985, we join in meals, worship, games, dancing, and music. The boys are aged 8-18 and enjoy meeting new teen-aged friends from Canada. They take us to meet local artisans and perform drumming and dancing for us.
While we bring hundreds of pounds of donations of health and education supplies and help out where we can at each of the homes, our main goal is to form lasting friendships. These relationships con-vey our solidarity with the people of Haiti in their work to build a more just and fair society.