BRISTOL – A five-year commitment to Haiti by St. Paul Catholic High School has led to the raising of more than $50,000 to help some of the poorest people in the Western Hemisphere.
The high school initiated an outreach effort in September 2011 to practice works of mercy beyond the school and its immediate community. The chosen mission was support of the Haitian Health Foundation (www.haitianhealthfoundation.org).
The school has announced that it has raised almost $54,000 over the years through student fund-raisers, monthly Mass collections, coin jugs and other initiatives.
Working with the Haitian Health Foundation, the St. Paul community has helped build two concrete houses in the Makandal slum of Jérémie, Haiti. In the last several years, the school also has assisted with the hot lunch program for the nearly 1,000 students in grades kindergarten through nine at the St. Pierre School in Jérémie.
Recently, the school sent $4,000 to assist relief efforts in the Jérémie area as a result of the devastation caused in October 2016 by Hurricane Matthew.
Several students, parents and alums have taken life-changing mission trips with the organization Haiti 180 (www.haiti180.org) to volunteer at a local orphanage.
Ali Vojtila, ’13, learned about Haiti and the Haitian orphanages in her senior year religion class at St. Paul and decided to travel there on a mission trip that spring. Since that trip, she has visited Haiti five times in the past three years with Haiti180 and helped build the foundation for a medical center, assembled a playscape for the kids at the orphanage, taught a little girl to swim and painted the exterior of the new home for the elderly.
She said that she is happiest, though, that she also persuaded her parents to visit her favorite place, Haiti, with her.
“Haitian living may be considered to be unrealistic to those who have never experienced it, but for these people, it is all they know,” Ali Vojtila said. “They are the first to say ‘thank you,’ the first to give you a hug and the first to share a smile. Nothing goes unnoticed among these people.”
St. Paul will continue its fund-raising initiative to help support the Haitian Health Foundation and the foundation’s mission of improving the health and well-being of women, children, families and communities living in the greater Jérémie region through health care, education and community development.