Faith in Action: Forging a Bond with Our Sister Parish in Haiti
Last summer, Tara Greufe had the opportunity to travel with Serve Haiti volunteers to the Grand Bois area of Haiti to assist in their summer teacher training program and, along with Deacon Bob Shaw and Don Blough, begin a sister parish relationship with the people of St. Francis parish.
She recalls, “The majority of my time was spent assisting six Haitian school principals and lead teachers as they taught basic teaching skills to 18 inexperienced teachers. These teachers were attending their first week of a three year cycle of training provided by Serve Haiti. I admired their enthusiasm and their joy at receiving such modest teaching aids as a 100’s chart, an inflatable globe, and a number line, since the only other teaching tool that most of them had at their disposal was a chalkboard. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to teach with so few teaching tools and with such little experience, yet these teachers were so willing to learn that they walked for hours each day to do so.”
Tara further explains, “Although I was there to assist the six principals and lead teachers, they were well prepared from the previous week’s training and needed little guidance. So, most of the time, my assistance was merely keeping the teachers on schedule and filling plates for the two meals they shared each day. My favorite task, however, was holding a sweet, smiling baby that one of the new teachers brought with her each day. This teacher mommy was so excited to learn that I could help her by holding her little guy as she participated in the class. I was so impressed by her loving ways with her baby and her enthusiasm for learning.”
Tara enthuses, “I saw God everywhere I went in Haiti: in the beauty of the land, in the smiling faces of the people, in each heartfelt ‘Bonjou!’” One moment stands out as being particularly special to her though. She relates, “One rainy evening, as the volunteers were enjoying each others’ company on the second story porch of the clinic, we noticed a woman below, walking barefoot through the mud and pouring rain and realized she was very much in labor. Her older child and husband were accompanying her as she slowly and steadily walked to the clinic, where she would shortly give birth to a healthy baby. Most likely this woman walked for miles through the rain and mud, to ensure that her baby was given a safe place to arrive. Her quiet strength and resilience brought me to tears, and I thanked God for witnessing that moment, for it will always remind me of how we are sent here, by Him, to care for one another. Serve Haiti works on this mission each and every day by bringing hope and health to the people of Grand Bois through their tireless efforts to provide quality health care. “
Although Tara was initially very private about her experiences and reluctant to tell people about her trip to Haiti, she had a change of heart after spending time thinking and praying about how to best help the people of Grand Bois. Tara says, “I now believe that sharing their story with others is an important way that I can continue to help. This past spring I had the pleasure of sharing the Grand Bois story with the teachers and students of St. Paul’s school, and with the St. Girard Altar and Rosary Circle. Both groups seemed touched, and both committed to helping us build a new church in the Grand Bois area for our sister parish, St. Francis. I will happily come talk with anyone who wants to listen!”
Are you inspired to help our sister parish in Haiti? Tara encourages, “Serve Haiti sponsors about four trips a year to Grand Bois, Haiti. It is an amazing experience, and one I encourage everyone to try! If keeping your feet firmly planted in Iowa seems more your style, then you can get involved by helping us to grow our relationship with the people of our sister parish, St. Francis, and to raise funds to partner with them to build a new church.”
For more information, contact Tara at
[email protected] or 563-340-5704.
You can also get more information at www.servehaiti.org