Protagonists and collaborators in the re-birth of Haiti

(ANS – Port-au-Prince) – The efforts of the Salesians to deal with the emergency and the reconstruction of Haiti after the earthquake continue. Further progress was made at a meeting, April 10-13, of mission offices and NGOs at Port-au-Prince as a follow-up to the meeting in Rome on March 27 at which support for Haiti’s Rinaldi Foundation was confirmed.

Among those present at the meeting outside Port-au-Prince were Fr. Ducange Sylvain, superior of the vice province of Haiti, and Fr. Francesco Cereda, councilor for formation, in the name of the Rector Major. On April 11 they visited the centers affected by the January 12 earthquake.


On the 12th Fr. Sylvain opened proceedings, declaring once more, “Haiti must rise again!” as he addressed those present. He said, “You are the protagonists and the collaborators in this great enterprise!”

Fr. Mark Hyde from the New Rochelle Mission Office, who has been working in Haiti for much of the last three months, presented the aims of the meetings. The principal of the Faculty of Ethnology in Haiti, Dr. Paul Antoine, described the current situation in the country and spoke about the social and historical prospects.

Fr. Jacques Charles, former superior of the vice province and director of the Rinaldi Foundation, presented the identity, purpose, needs, and limitations of the Foundation, and at the same time the commitment requested from the NGOs and the mission offices. Fr. Sylvain then gave a brief historical account of the Salesian presence in Haiti.

In the afternoon the group were joined by the directors of the Salesian houses in Haiti and representatives of the sectors for pastoral work with the marginalized, vocational training, education, and youth centers.

The NGOs and the mission offices confirmed their commitment to providing support and also the collaboration of qualified personnel for the Rinaldi Foundation in its work on the ground. The first stages were mapped out for the building of some classrooms and a dormitory at Gressier and for the training of teachers.

Present at the meeting in Port-au-Prince were representatives of Jugend Dritte Welt from Bonn, Jóvenes y Desarrollo from Madrid, Jugend Eine Welt from Austria, DMOS-COMIDE from Brussels, Volontariato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo from Italy, JUHILA from Switzerland, Builders without Borders from Canada, and some Salesians from the Antilles Province.