Haiti is the poorest country in the world outside of Africa. Since the devastating earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, the plight of the country on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola continues to be devastating – even today.
The Church is often the only hope left to the people there. Haiti is therefore one of the main countries in Latin America that receives our aid. In 2017, ACN supported local churches here with 83 projects and a total budget of 1.1 million euros. In the coming years, we will continue to provide assistance to Haiti.
In addition to urgent construction and reconstruction projects, our assistance in Haiti in 2017 focused on increasing and supporting pastoral workers as well as on Mass stipends as a form of material assistance to diocesan priests. In remote areas, we have been able to assist a number of parishes in financing vehicles and solar power systems, as providing mobility and energy remains one of the major infrastructural problems on this island, which has been severely hit by natural disasters.
»The parishes in Haiti are often the only port of call for the needs of the population.«
The importance of the Church in Haiti can only be fathomed by those who have lived there for some time. Especially in the countryside and on the outskirts of cities, the priest is often the only caregiver for the needs of the faithful. In such circumstances, it is difficult to separate the pastoral aspect of the work from its social impact.
During ACN’s visit to Haiti, one bishop told us: “If a fire breaks out somewhere in the diocese, the bishop is the first one to be told. He, in turn, informs the town hall.” In fact, the interconnected network of parishes is better developed than that of the various public administrations.
And in spite of the great hardships, the Catholic communities continue to grow. Each of the ten dioceses of the country establishes between two and four new parishes each year. Nevertheless, the priests in these new parishes face great challenges. Often there is neither a church nor a rectory. The Holy Mass is celebrated under the most abject conditions in open air.