In late January 2015, I floated the idea of a children’s center in Haiti to the Pax et Bonum Communications’ board of directors. Much to my delight, the idea was met with instant enthusiasm and support.
Between May and October of 2015, we made four trips to Haiti. We found a small apartment at the end of a narrow, long, twisting alley that became our beachhead in Haiti. The apartment is a modest, small four room residence on the second floor of a private home in a very poor neighborhood in the Peguyville section of Port-au-Prince. I was tempted to say “slum” instead of “a very poor neighborhood” but in comparison to the many large slums in the city, such as Cité Soleil and Girardoville, this is a few notches above those slums. Nonetheless, it is still an extremely impoverished area where few have running water or jobs. Our next-door neighbors live on the second floor of an unfinished building. They have no running water. The family includes an infant child. The kids are always hungry.
Our humble apartment became a microcosm of what we hoped to do on a larger scale when we move into the permanent home for the Santa Chiara Children’s Center. During our trips to Haiti, we fed six to ten kids three meals every day. Each night four to six kids slept on the floor in the apartment. Our narrow balcony became a beehive of activity, where kids gathered, where we prepared most of the meals and where everyone ate. Some kids were even bathed on the balcony. The balcony also served as a class room, a painting studio, and a dance floor. The apartment became a place for smiles, laughter, games, and a place to be fed and loved. It was a place for a kid to simply be a kid.
During that trip in October 2015 we found a building that will serve as the home of the Santa Chiara Children’s Center. It too is located in Peguyvillle. We’ll take possession of the property on December 1, 2015 after it is completely renovated. The rent is $16,500 per year. The owner of the building is thrilled it will be put to such a positive use. The walled property also includes a small building that will become a one-room apartment for us. Many of the poor women in Peguyville will walk past our day care center on their way to the larger street markets in Pétionville. We hope they will drop off their kids off with us for the day so we can lovingly care for them free of charge.
Tonight we will board a flight for Miami and a connecting flight to Port-au-Prince. Fittingly, we land in Port-au-Prince on the First Sunday of Advent. Being among the poor is a perfect place to prepare for the celebration of the Incarnation of God, when Jesus was born into the poverty of our humanity.
We estimate that we will need to raise $24,000 to feed an average of 50 children a day during the next year. While it is still possible to donate through the Pax et Bonum Communications website, we have launched a crowd funding platform to make it simpler and easier to donate. Here is a link to that platform:
SCCC is a huge leap in faith. We know the need. We know our hearts. And we know what we can do to make things better for some kids in Peguyville. If you are able to help us with a small donation it would be greatly appreciated.
Peace and Advent blessings,