By Don Lemieux
The Food for the Poor(FFP) pilgrimage to Haiti was an eye-opener, an event that will leave an indelible imprint on my mind for a very long time.
I went to accompany my wife, Martha, and to satisfy my skeptical thoughts about the effective utilization of previous contributions made to FFP. The two and a half days of concentrated in-country visits incontestably revealed extreme and extensive poverty (destitution, if you will), which I never witnessed before - even through my travels in Southeast Asia and South America. It was noted by the thousands of shabbily standing, tin-roofed shacks; by the countless number of people washing clothes in dirty rivers; by the high percentage of unemployed by the roadside; by the children begging for an additional scoop of meat sauce over their rice (with only one thin chicken neck for the meat); and by the filthy and poorly-equipped government-owned maternity hospital that led some of our group to tears upon exiting.
In marked contrast, the FFP-supported schools, hospital and housing developments stood out as oases of hope. All were clean and apparently well maintained. The well-kept and disciplined school children radiated their joy with their eyes and smiles, mirroring the love of their dedicated teachers and religious nuns.
Briefly, FFP has made a very positive impact on the lives of many Haitians. With operating expenses reportedly only around 9%, that charitable organization ranks among the best.
Your "doubting Thomas" is no longer skeptical and is ready to strongly support the proposed parish project.