Report of our Trip to Pax Christi-Port au Prince

November 25-29, 2012

 

Objectives: 

  1. Orient ourselves to the PC Haiti programs: 
  2. Where possible, involve ourselves with activities at the Sakala center.
  3. Explore possibilities of working together in the future

 

1.  Orientation

PC-Port au Prince’s major program in Cite Soleil is Sakala: the Community Center for Peace and Alternatives.  Sakala is a youth empowerment program started by Pax Christi- Haiti (Ayiti) in  2007.  The Center activities are approved by the community.  They currently serve 250 youth.

 

Four pillars of the program: Peace, Respect, Sports and Environment

 

~ We toured the Community and Tap Tap Gardens:  An urban garden and tree nursery with morenga trees (which when leaves are crushed and put into food, become a source of added nutrition to rice and corn meal) has been planted where there used to be a dump.  The children planted vegetables in one part of the garden.  It is called “Jardin Tap Tap,” because they use tires from old taxis called “Tap Taps” (great way to recycle) and print “peace” words on the tires.  Watch this transformational video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hoYg2z_IGc

~ Soccer Program:  The soccer program is well known in the community and offers a great opportunity to learn to settle differences non violently

Peace Education is demonstrated throughout the Center, which is also used for conferences to collaborate on these programs.

Community Program supporting youth leadership

After School Program to provide a space for students to do their homework. We saw many children helping each other with their class work.  They also get a meal after school.

 

2.  Activities we participated in at the Center

  • We Introduced the “Great Child” program.   Trained two young leaders who have come up through the Sakala program (ages 19 and 21 – High School graduates) to be facilitators and had one demonstration session.

 

  • Utilizing the book “Seventy times Seven” by PCUSA, we suggested a program on Forgiveness which was eagerly accepted by those using it.  We had discussion on the sessions in the book and approaches to implementing it. The program will be piloted with the staff first.

 

  • Explored using interactive games for language learning:  Crazy eights, ice breakers, etc.

 

  • We brought with us soccer cleats, socks, and a few balls and shirts for the Soccer Project from the grandchildren of Nancy O’Byrne.  The Bishop Snyder High School Seniors in Jacksonville, FL each signed a large banner with a quote from Mother Teresa, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”    They hung it up in their activity/study room.  The youth of the Sakala program responded in making a cloth banner to bring back with us, with messages of thanks and peace to the students of Bishop Snyder High School.

 

  • Toured their Community Garden and the Jardin Tap Tap. 

 

  • Toured downtown areas affected by the earth quake; including  the Cathedral and the President’s Palace.

 

  • Presented a check to Daniel Tillias for $400 from Pax Christi Florida for their annual Christmas Party for the children.

 

  • Met with Catholic Relief Services staff in Port au Prince:  Darren Hercyk, Country Rep.; Carla Fajardo, Director-Partnership Accountability and Capacity Strengthening; Nicole, Sanitation Director; Brook, Livelihoods Restoration Director; and their Construction Manager.

 

They gave us a two-hour overview of the development programs that they are involved in.  Until recently, they were in emergency response mode.  The programs include construction and refurbishment of homes; sanitation facilities; and livelihood development (funding for 600 small businesses).  CRS had built two buildings    for the Sakala program; and we suggested that they could partner with them in their community garden project.  They are hoping to lift Cite Soleil from the “Red Zone” designation, as the violence in Cite Soleil has decreased immensely – partly due to the Peace Education program by Pax Christi; and partly by the U.N. coming in a few years ago and clearing out all of the guns and the huge dump area.

 

3. Explored possible ways to collaborate with the Center in the future at a meeting with the Staff and Board Members of Sakala

 

  • We discussed their ongoing programs.  There was great support for the idea of having a Peace Festival next year at this same time of year.  The group had lots of ideas to help make this happen and involve the entire community.  We thought we could promote some fundraisers to help finance the Peace Festival back in Florida.  We hope to bring a larger group with us next year, including some youth.

 

  • Informed people of the Pax Christi Florida website.

 

  • We hope to have a Committee meet at the National Pax Christi meeting in June to discuss collaboration on Haiti and possible ways to give some scholarship monies to the promising youth that come out of the Sakala program (most immediately, Moise Wenley and Jean du Clair Pierre – “Delto”) who desire to go to college and then work in their community of Cite Soleil and help others to achieve education and a career, helping their country rise out of poverty.

 

  • People we got to know:

                        Daniel Tillias:  Program Director

                        Stephanie:  Office Manager of Sakala

                        Herrode: Sports Director

                        Jackie: Sakala Leader

                        Youth leaders:  Moise Wenley and Jean du Claire Pierre (Delto).  Two promising                                       high school graduates at the Center who speak excellent English and are                                       great promoters of the Center.

                        Driver: Emmanuel

 

Overall Impressions:

 

  • We left Cite Soleil filled with hope and grateful that we saw so many positive signs of recovery, education, and peace-filled responses to poverty and violence.  The youth are the key to transforming the community – one child at a time!  The Sakala program has had many lasting effects already – and hopefully, many more to come in the future.

 

Submitted by

Nancy O’Byrne, Coordinator PC-Florida

Lucy Fuchs, Board Member of PC-Florida

Anne Richter, Board Member of PC-Florida

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