The following video of Pax Christi Port-au-Prince Program Director was featured on the Handsome Pam website.
Pax Christi USA in pictures...
The following video of Pax Christi Port-au-Prince Program Director was featured on the Handsome Pam website.
By Amy Watts and Manuel Padilla
Haiti Project Co-coordinators
The astonishing collapse of Port-au-Prince’s cityscape, three years ago, is often cited as an enduring witness to the bleeding of the definition of natural disaster into the definition of man-made disaster. Where does one begin and the other end? One of the lone structures that still stood, and that still stands from before the earthquake, near the airport is a hotel built during the time of Aristide. It was an example of a new set of standards for building codes implemented by the government. A building needs structural integrity to survive such a shock. But what we address in building codes we often neglect in our own relationships. Society needs standards too. Society needs structural integrity to survive and thrive.
Pax Christi Port-au-Prince is working to put in place the deep foundation and flexibility of community to newly address the instabilities in Haitian society, starting right where they grew up, in Cite Soleil. They are doing this at great personal cost and with real joy.
In this, the year of faith, we can learn a great deal from the staff and community in a place like Cite Soleil. Many characterize faith, and with it hope, as beliefs and expectations of things in the absence of the evidence, or even despite it. This is not only an unsatisfactory definition of these words but it puts them in the wrong category altogether. Faith and hope are not passive psychological responses to adversity where no alternatives exist for coping. They are the antithesis of that. Faith and hope do not simply function to shelter us from pain and difficulty. Instead, they cast a light. They help create the serene disposition, the very conditions for us to be able to think clearly, to navigate and engage with adversity, to see the reasons and the resources we have available to us to creatively, and with conviction, overcome. With faith and hope, we are given the space to pull ourselves together, to stop simply reacting out of fear of failure born of our own inadequacy. They are like the ‘first position’ in ballet from which all other movements derive, making the music, whether it be harmonic or dissonant, capable of being danced.
From this ‘first position’ of faith and hope, so much has been accomplished in the peace education and community building programs of Pax Christi Port-au-Prince. They are dancing. Many of you have been following our SAKALA collaboration with PCPAP and we are happy to report that our joint efforts will continue through this year. We at Pax Christi USA are grateful for foundation and membership support that has made another year possible to support our Haitian sister organization. Our main goals for the upcoming year will include 1) Implementing the peace education curriculum, specially designed to compliment their peace and soccer program, 2) Institutional capacity building, focusing on program creation and evaluation and grant writing skills, and 3) Continuing to build a sustaining network for Pax Christi Port-au-Prince’s long term relational and financial needs.
Thank you for your continued support for this important peacebuilding work. You may always contact us at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to find out ways you can support PCPAP and the collaborative goals with PCUSA. If you have not seen the short film documenting their work, please order your copy of Cite Soleil: Sun, Dust, and Hope today and share it with others who may be interested.
If you feel called to help sustain the collaboration this year, checks can be made out to Pax Christi USA with “SAKALA” in the memo line and mailed to 1225 Otis St NE, Washington, D.C. 20017.
For further reflections on Haiti and the work of Pax Christi Port-au-Prince, please read Lape in Cite Soleil by Pax Christi Michigan member Kim Redigan as well as the Pax Christi Florida report from their Haiti trip.
Three Pax Christi Florida Council members made a trip to visit Pax Christi Haiti in November. They spent 5 days in Cite Soleil to see firsthand how the Sakala Peace Program is making a difference in the lives of the children and families living in one of the poorest communities in the world. They returned filled with hope and inspiration from working with these bright, promising youth and resilient, innovative adults.
Read their full report here: http://paxchristiflorida.org/take-action/report-of-our-trip-to-pax-christi-port-au-prince/
By Kim Redigan
Pax Christi Michigan
This past August, fellow Pax Christi member Therese Terns and I (St. Leo’s Bishop Gumbleton PC) were invited by Haitian peacemakers from Pax Christi Ayiti to help out at peace camp in Cite Soleil, the shantytown that sits in the shadow of Port-au-Prince and the Toussaint L’ouverture Airport.
What to say about Haiti? A place of such contrasts. A place of both heartbreak and hope.
The Haiti of abject poverty and disease. The Haiti that has suffered centuries of political and economic oppression. The Haiti that has had to deal with unrelenting natural disasters from floods, mudslides, and famines to the monster earthquake of 2010. The Haiti that is often referred to as “hopeless,” “helpless,” “forgotten and abandoned,” or simply as “Haiti-the-poorest-country-in-the-Western-Hemisphere,” a cliché that, for Haitians, has worn thin.
Why is it this way? Perhaps the answer is found in Ephesians which speaks of “powers and principalities.” Conditions in Cite Soleil, in Haiti, in Detroit do not need to be the way they are. The grinding poverty is not a result of laziness, voudou, determinism, or simple bad luck. Things are the way they are because of structural violence and injustice borne of human greed.
Although it would take hours to unpack Haiti’s incredible history, I will summarize by saying that since its inception as the first black-led republic in the world, Haiti has been made to pay a price for its presumption and audacity. In other words, this is what you get if you’re black and you dare to free your people. The injustices heaped upon this country are legion, a sick litany of social sin that would break the back of a lesser nation: beginning with Columbus’s slaughter of the indigenous Taino people who inhabited the island to $20 billion in reparations paid to France to a 19-year U.S. military occupation to our nation’s support of coups and dictators. Mix in the World Bank and odious debt, sweatshops, the dumping of subsidized rice in Haiti’s rural areas, the use of the country as a sexual playground and one begins to get a sense of why things are the way they are in Haiti. These are the fruits of powers and principalities run amok. Of what Walter Wink called a domination system based on an “entire network of powers integrated around idolatrous values.”
And yet there is another side to Haiti that is too often overlooked. A Haiti that greets the dawn with a pulsating swell of songpraise. A Haiti that is proud and prayerful and has much to teach us about faith, courage, and peacemaking.
And this is what our visit to Haiti was all about. We were invited by our partners at Pax Christi Ayiti to participate in summer peace camp in Cite Soleil. To learn from their skilled peace educators and urban gardeners. To learn from the SAKALA sports program that offers peace education through soccer.
SAKALA peace soccer jerseys worn by the Haitian youth (and by students at U of D Jesuit in solidarity), bear the names of peacemakers whose stories the Haitian youth are sharing with others. Some of the soccer stars from Cite Soleil include: Franz Jagerstatter, Dorothy Day, Jean Juste, Mahatma Gandhi, Ghasson Andoni, and Bishop Gumbleton.
In addition to cheering on Rosa Parks as she dominated the soccer field and playing volleyball with Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King, Jr., we sang songs (a variation of “Peace, Salaam, Shalom” that we rewrote as “Peace, La Paz, Lape”) and taught the kids the rap written by Detroit grassroots artist, Invincible, “If you wanna see the change, you gotta be the change.” We made peace flags and watched a local dance troupe perform, and promised to learn at least a little Kreyol by next summer. We learned a great deal from master peace teacher, Daniel Tillias from Pax Christi Ayiti whose pedagogical skills and vision undergird the great work for peace being done in Cite Soleil.
Most importantly, we shared with the children of Cite Soleil the fact that their work for peace is having an effect far beyond Haiti. Pax Christi USA has made a wonderful documentary detailing the good work for peace being done in Cite Soleil that deserves to be widely shown as a counter-narrative to the grim and disempowering images of Haiti that are usually shown. A film that highlights hope rather than despair. A film that celebrates creativity and community. See http://paxchristiusa.org/programs/sakala/ for details.
Therese and I returned from Haiti with many new ideas about peace education. We came home heartened and hopeful and anxious to partner with our Haitian friends and apply what we learned in Haiti to our work for peace here at home.
Kim Redigan is a member of Pax Christi Michigan.
Compiled by Johnny Zokovitch
Each month, “On The Line” features news items and announcements from around the nation featuring Pax Christi members, local groups, regions and partners. These are gleaned from articles in local newspapers, websites, magazines, and elsewhere.
PAX CHRISTI ILLINOIS CO-SPONSORS INTERFAITH PEACE SERVICE: The 8th annual World Peace Day Inter-Faith Prayer Service, co-sponsored by Pax Christi Illinois, was held on January 1st on the campus of North Central College in Naperville. The theme for this years’ service was, “Breaking Down the Mysteries Between Us: Seeking Peace Through Understanding”. In explaining the hope for this years’ celebration, Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace Tom Cordaro stated, “Even though this past year has been marked by incidents of unspeakable violence, polarization and hostilities in our nation and around the world, the truth is that more and more people of faith are coming together across religious and cultural boundaries to give witness to our common humanity. There is more that unites than there is that divides us. Our hope is that this service will build on the successful interfaith efforts of the last year and deepen the bonds of respect and love between us.” Read the whole article here: http://paxchristiusa.org/2013/01/04/regional-news-pax-christi-illinois-joins-diverse-religious-communities-in-calling-for-world-peace/
PAX CHRISTI GROUPS MARK THE FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS: Traditionally, many Pax Christi groups hold vigils, prayer services, and actions on December 28, the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Pax Christi Florida chapters held vigils dedicated to a commitment to nonviolence as a remembrance of the school children in Newtown, Connecticut . Pax Christi Northeast Florida held one in downtown St. Augustine at the Plaza de la Constitution, with nine people participating, including 2 priests: Fr. Rene Robert and Fr. Sebastian Muccilli. Other PCF members held vigil in downtown Jacksonville in front of the new County Courthouse.
LONG-TIME PAX CHRISTI MEMBER PUBLISHES NEW BOOK: An Invitation to Think and Feel Differently in the New Millennium, by Fr. Harry Bury, long-time member of Pax Christi USA, describes an innovative way of looking at life that brings meaning and fulfillment to oneself and others. It tells stories that touch the deepest layers of our humanness, awakening our imagination and transforming our understanding in a manner that delights and fulfills us. The intent of this book is to generate new stories for the New Millennium in order to overcome cynicism with reasonable hopefulness, while suggesting practical measures ‘the least of us’ can take to make life wonderful for ourselves and for everyone in the world. Read more about Fr. Harry’s book here: http://www.harryjbury.com/HarryJBury/Books.html
PAX CHRISTI WESTERN NEW YORK COORDINATOR DELIVERS ADVENT HOMILY: This homily was given by William Privett, coordinator of Pax Christi Western New York, on December 8-9 at his parish. “Today’s Gospel reading quotes Isaiah, ‘Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.’ Still today we have the responsibility to ‘Prepare the way’ and ‘straighten the paths’…for our Lord. 2000 years later, we can all observe that the path is not straight, the hills are still not level. About 20 years ago, it occurred to me during my meditation that I not only COULD, but was CALLED UPON, to give birth to Jesus into this world. What I will share in the next few minutes is what I have learned in the past few decades, and that is making the path straight is doing what Jesus calls us to do – Love without violence. I believe that Loving without violence, for those of us who believe in Jesus is making the path straight and leveling the hills. Is it even imaginable to you that we could pPrepare the way for Jesus’ with violence, mayhem, destruction and death?” Read the entire homily here: http://paxchristiusa.org/2012/12/29/christmas-2012-birthing-the-prince-of-peace-love-without-violence/
PAX CHRISTI MICHIGAN MEMBER WRITES ON COLOMBIAN’S WORK FOR JUSTICE: Pax Christi Michigan member, Carol Jachim, wrote the following story about Jorge Parra’s struggle for justice. “It was International Peace Day in September when I first met Jorge Parra, a humbling man who walked with a cane. We marched together with 25 peace advocates for a mile or so from a downtown Detroit Church to Comerica Park where the Detroit Tigers were playing a home game. Did we make a difference? Did anyone notice? One only wonders with hope. As we gathered in a small park, Jorge spoke, through an interpreter, telling us his reason for being in the U.S. — to draw attention to his and his coworkers’ plight in a General Motors plant in Columbia. GM Colombia (Colmotores), the most profitable GM plant in Latin America, fired over 200 workers who suffered work-related injuries and diseases, including spinal fractures and cancer…” Read the rest of the story here: http://paxchristiusa.org/2012/12/21/human-rights-colombians-story-moves-us-to-question-the-meaning-of-joy-and-peace-this-season/
PAX CHRISTI MAINE MEMBER ASKS IF WE SEE THE POOR? The following article was published in the Bangor Daily News by Mary Ellen Quinn of Pax Christi Maine during the Advent season. “As a social worker in this community over the past three decades, I have seen the resources allocated to those living in poverty rise and fall. In recent years, there has been a steady downward spiral. At both federal and state levels, budgets cuts are being made that severely jeopardize the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens. It is difficult to witness the current congressional debate on who will receive a tax break, knowing that the income of the top 1 percent of wealthiest Americans has risen close to 75 percent in the past 30 years. At the same time, the income of those on the lowest rung of the ladder has seen only a 1-percent increase…” Read the entire column here: http://bangordailynews.com/2012/12/17/opinion/how-do-we-see-the-poor-or-do-we-see-them-at-all/
PAX CHRISTI FLORIDA MEMBERS ON A DELEGATION TO HAITI: Three Pax Christi Florida Council members made a trip to visit Pax Christi Haiti in November. They spent 5 days in Cite Soleil to see firsthand how the Sakala Peace Program is making a difference in the lives of the children and families living in one of the poorest communities in the world. They returned filled with hope and inspiration from working with these bright, promising youth and resilient, innovative adults. Read their full report here: http://paxchristiflorida.org/take-action/report-of-our-trip-to-pax-christi-port-au-prince/
Upcoming or Ongoing Events:
Jan. 6-12 – Witness Against Torture, Close Guantanamo: http://witnesstorture.org/
Jan. 6-12 – National Migration Week: http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week/index.cfm
Jan. 11-13 – National Weekend of Prayer to End Slavery and Trafficking: http://www.weekendofprayer.net/index.html
Jan. 18-19 – Pax Christi Cleveland West is presenting a retreat with Fr. Emmanuel McCarthy on gospel nonviolence. Contact 216.651.0550 for more information.
Jan. 21 – MLK Day: http://mlkday.gov/about/serveonkingday.php
Jan. 27 – Pax Christi Metro New York presents Peacemaking Through the Arts, featuring a play on Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day: http://www.nypaxchristi.org/events.html
Feb. 2 – Regional Dialogue in Michigan: http://paxchristiusa.org/programs/regional-dialogues-2012-13/
Feb. 13 – Ash Wednesday
Feb. 23 – Regional Dialogue in Minnesota: http://paxchristiusa.org/programs/regional-dialogues-2012-13/
Mar. 1-3 – Pax Christi Metro New York’s retreat, “Have this mind in you which was in Christ Jesus…Conversion to the active love of Jesus by praying Sacred Scripture,” with Bishop Thomas Gumbleton: http://www.nypaxchristi.org/events.html
Mar. 10 – Regional Dialogue in Richmond, VA: http://paxchristiusa.org/programs/regional-dialogues-2012-13/
Mar. 23 – Regional Dialogue for Pax Christi Metro New York and Long Island: http://paxchristiusa.org/programs/regional-dialogues-2012-13/
Pax Christi member Fr. Tim Taugher and Fr. Fred Daley were featured in this article from The Post Standard (NY) following the Newtown massacre … Watch this incredible slideshow of Pax Christi Houston events from throughout 2012 put together by Dave Atwood … A number of Pax Christi members, including Ambassadors and Teachers of Peace, were featured in this article in NCR on Catholic peacemaking … Pax Christi New Mexico co-coordinator Bud Ryan had this comment published in the New York Times … Read the new reflection from PCUSA National Council member Nick Mele on “Sex and violence” … A photo from the Sakala project in Haiti was featured in The Global Fund for Children’s blog … The latest edition of Pax Christi Metro New York’s newsletter Kerux is available online … Many thanks to Sue Malone who is stepping down as coordinator of Pax Christi Massachusetts and a grateful welcome to Pat Ferrone who is stepping into her place … Pax Christi El Paso (TX) continues their regular film series this month with the movie “Encounter Point” … Read the January edition of Pax Christi International’s newsletter online … See more local and regional updates in the fall edition of The Peace Current …
by Amy Watts and Manuel Padilla
Haiti Project Co-coordinators
We just returned from Haiti, visiting our sister organization Pax Christi Port-au-Prince, and are happy to share all their progress since we visited them last year. As many of you know, Pax Christi USA has been collaborating with Pax Christi Port-au-Prince to support their work to expand capacities for peace in Cite Soleil, a neighborhood in the capital city. This program, called “SAKALA,” translates into English as “it could happen here.”
We know your prayers and thoughts have been focused on Haiti as you watched news coverage on the recent tropical storm Isaac. Many of you have written and asked about our friends in Cite Soleil and their safety. While the heavy rains and winds brought down some tents, flooded some homes, and destroyed some crops and livestock, we are thankful to report that the damage was mild compared to other storms of the past.
Pax Christi Port-au-Prince responded quickly to the needs of the neighborhood during and after the tropical storm. Many from the neighboring tent camp, SOHAMO, took shelter at the Pax Christi’s community center building and some remain living there because their tent shelters were destroyed. For the last two months, Pax Christi Port-au-Prince has been running a summer peace camp for the youth they work with in the neighborhood. In response to the storm, they engaged the youth in this day program to participate in community service to help repair and rebuild homes and tents so that those who are living at the program site can find support.
The program site in Cite Soleil is alive and bustling. The new buildings that were recently constructed are paving the way for even more activity. When we arrived our first day of this trip, we found some of the children playing a soccer game, others crowded into a small building to get a peak at a television showing the latest match between Barcelona and Madrid, some weeding in the large urban garden that is growing vegetables and trees for a reforestation project, and cooks hard at work in their new kitchen building to provide the free meal of the day to participants. Pax Christi Port-au-Prince’s new ‘peace tap-tap’ is running a route each day and spreading messages of peace while making a profit to support SAKALA. Recently, their peace tap-tap was featured on a radio program in Haiti.
The challenges remain great. One of the head staff members of Pax Christi Port-au-Prince, Herode, has lost two cousins to violent deaths within the last month. Just last week, his cousin was part of a group trying to keep gangs out of his neighborhood and was killed as a result. In the midst of these tragedies, Herode continues to show up each day to show the kids in SAKALA a path of nonviolence and community engagement.
With these challenges in mind, at the forefront of the work being done through our collaboration with PCPAP in Cite Soleil, former President Jean Bertrand Aristide felt compelled to contact us during our visit and wish our collaboration, and all the members of PCUSA, well as we seek to walk with our Haitian brothers and sisters.
We’ve had the privilege of spending time with the staff of Pax Christi Port-au-Prince these last two weeks as they serve the youth and wider community through all their programs in Cite Soleil. They are in a process of professionalizing their organization, which started years ago as a group of friends and committed individuals in the neighborhood who came together to volunteer their time. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they work to discern and implement new organizational policies and procedures to increase the effectiveness of their work for peace.
The collaborative work between Pax Christi USA and Pax Christi Port-au-Prince which aims to: 1) support and expand their peace education efforts in Cite Soleil, 2) develop the network of sustainable financial and relational support for Pax Christi Port-au-Prince, and 3) provide mentorship for Pax Christi Port-au-Prince in organizational and programmatic development and capacity building. You can support these initiatives by contacting Manuel Padilla (email@example.com) or Amy Watts (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more about how you can become involved. If you’d like to make a financial contribution, you can make out a check to Pax Christi USA and put “SAKALA” in the memo line and mail it to Pax Christi USA, 1225 Otis St NE, Washington, D.C. 20017.
Are you headed to Haiti soon and will be in Port-au-Prince? Interested in contributing time or energy to Pax Christi Port-au-Prince? Planning a future delegation or service-learning trip? Last month, Kim Redigan and Therese Terns of Pax Christi Michigan visited SAKALA and guest-taught peace education and sports activities as a way to build further relationships with the youth attending the peace summer camp. Contact Manuel or Amy (email addresses above) to investigate the possibilities for your group! Through funding from a parish in Virginia, Pax Christi Port-au-Prince will soon have guest house capabilities on-site so keep this in mind for later this year.
The Pax Christi USA-produced film, Cite Soleil: Sun, Dust and Hope, has been chosen for the Idaho Justice Story Festival: Just Stories, taking place October 19-20 in Boise, Idaho. This follows the selection of the film earlier this year for the New York Peace Film Festival.
The Idaho Justice Story Festival: “Just Stories” is a two-day event featuring live storytelling and films. The event is designed to help bring peace and justice to our world through the act of listening and understanding one another.
The Festival is a fundraising event in support of Stories of our City — a nonprofit organization that produces a weekly podcast featuring stories from real people around the globe.
Click here to see the Schedule of Events.