A partnership to re-build Haiti

The earthquake that devastated Port au Prince on January 12, 2010 did little damage in the remote mountain village of … Continued

The earthquake that devastated Port au Prince on January 12, 2010 did little damage in the remote mountain village of Medor, Haiti. But the following month two aftershocks heavily damaged the church and destroyed the kindergarten and primary school buildings in Medor. While the church can be repaired, the kindergarten and primary school buildings must be rebuilt.

Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Arlington, VA has twinned with St. Joseph Parish in Medor, Haiti, visiting each other and working together since 1997. OLQP parish supports education, health and clean water programs, and helps raise funds for school construction, reforestation and other projects.

(Kingergarten students in Medor, Haiti.)

Our joint efforts with the people of Medor include:

• Educating over 1,250 children in primary and secondary school, despite the earthquakes. This year the secondary school will start a 13th grade, qualifying graduates from this remote area to apply to college for the first time;
• Supporting a trade school where girls without the benefit of an education learn to sew and cook;
• Providing a daily school lunch program for all students and teachers, for some students their only meal of the day;
• Distributing anti-parasite medications, non-prescription medications and vitamins;
• Developing clean water and sanitation programs for the community and outlying villages; including digging and capping wells
• Developing a reforestation program that planted 70,000 trees in 2010, with a goal of planting one million trees in the area

Our Lady Queen of Peace was founded 65 years ago as the first Black Catholic parish in Arlington. The Spiritan priests who serve at OLQP belong to a missionary order (the Congregation of the Holy Spirit) working in over 68 countries around the world, mostly in developing countries. Our Lady Queen of Peace has become well known for its warm welcome, hospitality and inclusivity; creating a diverse and caring faith community.

As a parish community we are dedicated to living out the Gospel message of reaching out to help the poor and marginalized. The parish continues to identify with its origins as a Black Catholic parish, and as a diverse congregation we seek to promote racial harmony and social justice within our own community and in the world beyond.

The OLQP Haiti Ministry has a “twinning” relationship with our sister parish, St. Joseph’s in Medor, Haiti, which strengthens our longstanding commitment to social justice in a personal way. Since the Haiti Committee’s beginning in 1997, we have welcomed small delegations from Medor and annually send delegations of OLQP parishioners to Medor.

In addition to helping build and support the schools and clinic, clean water, sanitation and reforestation initiatives, OLQP also assists the pastor of St Joseph’s in administering the 12 chapels that make up the parish. Our main thrust is helping the people of Medor to raise their own economic standard of living. We continue to explore ways in which we can deepen the personal and spiritual relationship between the people of OLQP and the people of Medor.

To that end, we recently partnered with the Rural Area Medical Volunteer Corps. RAM is sending volunteers and supplies to Medor this weekend. Working with Haitians over the next two weeks, they will repair the road, build an airstrip for an air ambulance service and build eco latrines. Others RAM volunteers, joined by five people from OLQP, will run medical, dental and vision clinics as well as treat cholera patients.

In addition to the incredible ongoing generosity of the parishioners of OLQP, the Haiti committee is currently seeking outside funding to repair the church and build a new primary school. For more information, contact Karen Bate at olqphaiti@gmail.com.

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