September 20, 2016

Focus on Haiti: A Continuing Response

As we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the formation of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, we are embarking on a Journey of Oneness, an endeavor to acknowledge and strengthen the unity of the Institute through enhancing collaborative processes and presence.

As I reflect on my experience with Focus on Haiti (FoH), I believe it embodies the spirit of that Journey. It embodies Oneness in its beginning when a small group of Sisters of Mercy from each of the Communities of the Institute gathering around a lunch table talking about how to respond to the Chapter question:

“God of Mercy, of Wisdom and Mystery, where do we need to be led now to come to both a deeper response to our Critical Concerns and a radical embrace of our identity?”

Our sharing led us to a dream of being Mercy in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. We were inspired by the legacy of Catherine McAuley to care for those in greatest need.

FoH Core Members,
Annual Meeting 2014

It wasn’t long before the Sisters invited Associates and Mercy friends to join us, to become one with us in this journey. As planning continued, FoH began ministering with the Religious of Jesus and Mary and the people of Gros Morne in the northwestern part of Haiti. We began cultivating partnerships and oneness with the community of Gros Morne - trying through these relationships to create conditions for people to thrive. The Institute Leadership Team joined us in our discernment as FoH journeyed and endeavored to make mercy real in Haiti.

In 2016, being mercy in Haiti by FoH is concentrated in four areas: agronomy, care for poor elderly, empowerment of women and immersion experiences for others interested in being mercy in Haiti.

 Click on any of the following images to read the reports
Support of the Agro-Forestry program
Support of Maison Bon Samaritan
(House of the Good Samaritan)
Support of Immersion/
Service Trips

Support and Partnering with Women

Currently we are exploring the possibility of bringing to Gros Morne a program called Chemin Lavi Miyo, (CLM) “a pathway to a better life”. CLM is an 18-month program, with a 96% graduation rate, and is geared to women who are the poorest of the poor. Each woman is provided materials to build or improve her home, training to care for the enterprise activity (goat or pig) she has chosen, a case worker who visits her once a week for the duration of the program, free health care, and a graduation ceremony to celebrate and publicize her achievements.

Adult service trip-
FOH members with Haitian partners

With the expansion of our projects, our organizational structure has grown and now includes an Executive Committee which is comprised of all the chairs of the working committees. These are the Agronomy, Maison Bon Samaritan, Women’s, Immersion, Development, Communications and Finance Committees. Sister Kathy Thornton rsm serves as Focus on Haiti Coordinator and spokesperson for the group.

Geri Lantham a RJM-Quest Volunteer who lives in Gros Morne is liaison to Focus on Haiti in Haiti. She works with our partners helping to facilitate communication and the smooth operations of all the programs FOH supports.

The Institute Leadership Team serves as the formal body that relates to FOH as an Institute-wide initiative. Sister Eileen Campbell, member of the ILT has become the liaison between FOH and the Institute.

The Journey of Oneness for FoH reflects oneness in working together by sisters of Institute communities, associates, and mercy friends and co-workers. But there is another oneness that is experienced. It is a oneness of human beings being attentive to one another. It is an exhilarating experience of solidarity and love for each as we go about creating conditions for each other to thrive.

If you are interested in more information about the work of Focus on Haiti, or would like to contribute to their work, contact Sister Kathy Thornton

Messages to: Karen Scheer rsm, MD


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