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Saturday, 03 June 2017 03:25

Help for Haiti coming in June from southwest Sask

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Andrea Carol from her trip to Haiti in 2014. Andrea Carol from her trip to Haiti in 2014. Contributed

Swift Current residents have been known to be altruistic and generous with their time.


So when local dentist Dr. Lawrence Reimer wanted to help the people of Haiti who were devastated by earthquakes in 2010 and then never recovered due to an extremely poor economy, there was an entourage of 25 people who headed there to help rebuild.
Included on that trip was Andrea Carol who were in Haiti from Feb. 15-24.
Haiti has not improved but felt compelled to go back again, which she will be doing in June. 
In 2014, I fell in love with the people of Haiti. It is a privilege to eat and be educated in a country such as Haiti, however, I believe it is a human right," explains Carol. "I believe the breath in your lungs gives you the right to eat and learn. I want to help where I can. It's not about giving the nation a hand out. It's about giving them a hand up. When we are born to privilege (in Canada), with it comes certain obligations."
 In 2014, the Mission of Hope group stayed in dorms. They worked in a community called Titanyen which is north of the capital. The fields outside the settlement of Titanyen were chosen as the site of mass graves dug for the victims of the 2010 earthquake.
This time around, Carol and her group will be staying in a property in the town of Source Matelas, Haiti which is about 40 minutes from Port au Prince.
This is not a Mission of Hope-sponsored trip and is a different venture spearheaded by Mike and Irene Ritskes.
The Ritskes also fell in love with the nation of Haiti during the 2014 Mission of Hope trip. Since then, they have secured a property in Source Matelas,  The property is called the Haiti Friendship Centre (www.haitifriendshipcentre.com).
According to a Facebook post from May 24, initially they were going to use another facility to start a school in the community. That fell through so they will be using a guest house for teaching grade one.
According to the Haiti Friendship Centre group's mission statement, because Haiti is still the poorest country in the western hemisphere, they wanted to help.
"(Haiti) has suffered  many setbacks. Education in Haiti is not free - too many families are forced to choose between school fees and food. The families that cannot afford to feed their children often feel the only option left is to give them away with the hope of a better future. This is one reason that 80% of the children in orphanages actually have family. It also contributes to the reason that Haiti has the highest percentage of slaves per capita in the world.
"Our vision is to start a school for the poorest of the poor - those who may otherwise never have that opportunity. As well as quality education, the children will receive one hot meal daily. This will be free of charge to those who are not able to pay. We will start with grade one this fall, adding a grade each year as support grows. We believe that every child should have the opportunity to be educated and the ability to dream. Without a dream, there is no hope. Help us bring hope to the children in Source Matelas and build future leaders of their families, in their communities and for their country."
Carol says they are not sure about how their work in 2014 has affected the region today, but says they have been following what has occurred in Haiti as a whole.
"Haiti's political situation has improved in recent years, but remains fragile," she explains. "There are certain areas of Haiti that travel is not recommended. Protests and demonstrations are sudden and unpredictable.
"However, we aim to keep a low profile and steer clear of any pending danger. When I am in Haiti, I even cover my head with a cap to conceal my blonde hair. The greatest danger we face is being robbed while in transit. The community we stay in is relatively safe and the locals welcome us there.
"We have not had any updates on the relief work we did (in 2014), but I am really excited to visit the communities we visited three years ago."
While it's honourable and commendable all the work they are doing, there is still some concern and risk involved. Carol's family has some reservations.
"For my friends and family, this trip is a matter of grave concern," explains Carol.
"Haiti is an extremely dangerous country. In a place where crime, kidnapping and robberies abound, the dwindled police force cannot keep up. And when people are starving, they will stop at nothing to ensure their family eats.
"Being a caucasian female, it is a dangerous trip. My family supports my passion to help others and though sometimes the adventures I embark on are dangerous, I have a loving supportive network to come home to."
If you would like to support Carol’s cause, please see her Go Fund Me page at: https://www.gofundme.com/ sharehaiti

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor