Mattituck Presbyterian Church’s relationship with Haiti began in 1984. We partnered with Service Chretien d’Haiti, a sister of Church World Service, to work on La Gonave (population 100,000), an island 20 miles off the coast. We met with representatives of churches from the port city of Anse-a-Galets and explored ways that we might work together to help the people. They shared their vision.
Initially we began an elementary school Scholarship Program for 300 children; dentists from our church provided much-needed care; a fluoride program was started in the schools; we supported vocational schools; we helped with local needs. A major component of this mission has been joint worship, study and prayer, sharing our faith in Christ with one another and with the people of Haiti.
In 1995, following a study with our Haitian friends on Jeremiah 32 (in which the prophet speaks of a restoration of the land), God led our partnership to a mountain village called Nan Sema – a village that felt God had forgotten them. When asked if they had any needs, the people pleaded for a church to be built. Praying and singing together, we explored ways that this could happen. The first worship service was held in the newly constructed church in February 2001. Since that time, a well has been dug with a 30,000 gallon cistern to store the water (with the help of Rotary International), and a medical clinic was built. There is now a water fountain in the village of Nan Sema that provides for more than 10,000 people who, in the past, had to walk 4-6 hours a day to collect water.
Over the last 25 years more than 50 people from MPC and the Presbytery of LI have visited La Gonave. Through our annual budget and other donations we sponsor scholarship programs for children in elementary through high school; adult literacy programs; agriculture programs to fund seeds and farming tools; a goat ownership project that teaches youngsters the responsibilities of raising a goat for profit either to feed their families or provide income; a credit program that enables individuals to borrow money to start a business; and a fluoride program for over 500 children.
Following the recent earthquake, our efforts have focused on helping our friends to rebuild their lives. Initially this meant addressing the immediate needs of providing food to La Gonave. The shortage of food and supplies was being felt on Lagonave as the merchants who travel from the mainland could no longer do that because the quake destroyed the harbor in Port-au-Prince. and money to sister organizations in Haiti (like Service Chretien d'Haiti) and trusted NGOs that were working in the country. We are grateful to the individuals, groups, schools, and other organizations that answered our call for donations.
One of the most rewarding outcomes of this ongoing mission has been all the friendships, relationships, and trust that has developed between MPC and the people of Haiti. These are not faceless, anonymous folks anymore. They are good friends, with families of their own, hopes of their own, and much to teach us. The mission in Haiti is a priority of the Mattituck Presbyterian Church, mesi Bon Dye e mesi anpil zanmi nou yo non Ayiti.
Click HERE to watch Rory MacNish's video, 26 Years in Haiti.