HOME PAGEMaine_Friends_of_Haiti.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0

Update - Haitian Ministries

February 15, 2010


Before and after the earthquake photos of the Norwich Mission House are pictured above.



A group of five with Haitian Ministries returned to Connecticut late Thursday, completing a five-day visit to Port-au-Prince to meet some of the emergency needs of the six Haitian staff members of Norwich Mission House and the projects and twinned parishes partnered through the ministry.

The twinned parish of Les Palmes (whose sister church is St. Mary of Coventry, CT) received money to buy food for 2,500 of the 35,000 people in the rural, mountain community who are most in need. Fr. Vil Johnson, the priest of the remote community, wrote on Friday that all the people desperately need tents, food (rice, beans, oil and water), Clorox to purify water, and clothing. Almost 50 people died there, and nearly every home was either destroyed or damaged. The church there is in ruins.

Haitian Ministries also gave emergency funds to the parish of St. Anne in Saintaard, which is north of Port-au-Prince, and to the parish of St. Genevieve in Zorange, northeast of the capital. (The former is partnered with St. Patrick-St. Anthony of Hartford, and the latter is twinned with St. Elizabeth Seton of Rocky Hill.)

In Port-au-Prince, the girls' orphanage run by Paula Thybulle received emergency funding for food. The girls are sleeping in a big open courtyard across from the orphanage, where they have a few tents. But many of the 63 girls do not have coverings, and Paula requested new tents for them.

Almost everyone in the capital sleeps outdoors, whether or not they have tents. Haitian Ministries is accepting donations of new, still-packaged tents, such as those made Coleman and Eureka. They come in all sizes, from two- to twelve-person. They are simple to put up and have only a few parts: two poles and four stakes. A tent fly comes with the package and keeps the tent dry. 

Tents are the only supply donations that the ministry is requesting at this time, but money donations are greatly appreciated. Money enables project directors and priests to purchase food, supplies and equipment they need right away.

Haitian Ministries has set up a temporary mission house off Route de Freres in Petionville, but guards continue to protect the Norwich Mission House site. The house was destroyed in the earthquake, and temporary walls of metal have replaced the concrete walls around the property that collapsed.

Lanitte Belledente, the mission house cook who was badly injured, remains at a large medical encampment near the international airport. She was scheduled to undergo another operation on Thursday or Friday. Her left leg was amputated mid-way on her shin. Staff have visited her several times in the last week, and one of Lanitte's sisters sits by her side. (Lanitte lost another sister and two nieces in the earthquake.)

At L'Arc-en-Ciel, the Penettes reported that they expect to have almost 100 children at their orphanage by the end of the week. Although their orphanage usually has about 35 children, relief agencies are dropping off other children in need of shelter and care.

Danielle Penette said they also need tents, but hope to complete their new orphanage very soon so that they can better meet their growing needs.

Dominique Georges, the assistant director of Norwich Mission House, continues to oversee the ministry’s daily relief efforts in Port-au-Prince.


Kyn Tolson

Development Director

Haitian Ministries

199 Broadway

Norwich, CT.   06360

(work) 860.638.1018

(cell) 860.575.8691




Celebrating Our 25th Year in 2010 


    1.       Haitian Ministries for the Diocese of Norwich

      1.               Website: www.haitianministries.org

      2.                 E-mail: info@haitianministries.org

    2.              199 Broadway, Norwich, CT.  06360              (860) 848-2237 ext. 206 

    3.        Projects, Programs and Communities We Support  

  1. Diocesan Twinning:  An essential component of our work is uniting Haitian parishes, orphanages and programs with churches, schools and other groups in the United States.


    1. 1.14 partnerships (twins) involve 28 communities, half in Haiti and half in the U.S.  Eight of the American partners are in the Diocese of Norwich.  In fact, the Diocese of Norwich itself is twinned with the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince. We work closely with the Archbishop in Port-au-Prince.

    2. 2.Most of the Haitian communities are entire parishes, each counting more than 25,000 people who benefit from their partnership. 

    3. 3.Twins determine their own exchanges and projects. In many cases, American partners support: schools (in which there are thousands of students and hundreds of teachers); meal and medical treatment for thousands; reforestation; and construction and repair of homes and other buildings.

    4. 4.Many partners in the U.S. regularly visit their twins in Haiti, and Haitian priests and program directors come to the U.S. Annually, a bishop from the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince comes to the Diocese of Norwich and confirms candidates in our parishes.

    5. 5.Sr. Marie Yannick is Bishop Michael Cote’s representative to Haiti, and she lives not far from our mission house, where she oversees our twinning program. (She also works with Hospice St. Joseph, another ministry in Haiti under the Diocese of Norwich.)

    6. 6.Our mission house director also works with the twins and assists in determining new projects for them.


Education: The Tierney-Tobin Memorial Scholarship Program:  Haitians know that education is likely the only route out of extreme poverty. Often families go without food to put their children in private schools. (There is little public education in Haiti.) This program pays for tuitions, books and emergency medical care for students. Operating since the late 1990s, the program accepts students based on need and merit.

      Today, Tierney-Tobin:

    1. 1.Enrolls 150 students in first grade through university and medical school.

    2. 2.Has a retention rate of 90-95 percent while requiring that students maintain above-average grades.

    3. 3.Counts 6 out of 7 university students who first became Tierney-Tobin scholars during their primary school years. 

    4. 4.Counts 6 other students who have graduated from technical schools or universities. One graduate is a doctor who plans to establish a clinic for the poor in his family’s neighborhood.

    5. 5.Has secondary school students who tutor younger ones needing academic help.

    6. 6.Has 9 students who are sponsored by children in the religious education program at St. John Church in Old Saybrook.


Orphanages:  We support 2 orphanages: Le Foyer des Filles de Dieu and La Maison L’Arc-en-Ciel, which provide homes, health care and education for children who have lost their parents or have been abandoned. There is no institutional structure in Haiti to care for these children.

      Today, Le Foyer, which has received our support for almost 20 years:

    1. 1.Counts 73 girls and young women, ranging in age from 3 to 20. Many of the young women graduate from prestigious schools in Port-au-Prince.

    2. 2.Looks to Partners for Haiti as its major donor to feed and educate the girls. Our donations also pay for teachers and house mothers.

    3. 3.Is twinned with Mercy High School in Middletown.


  2. Today, L’Arc-en-Ciel:

    1. 1.Has 40 boys and girls, all of whom have been affected by HIV/AIDS and range in age from 18 months to 18 years.

    2. 2.Has advanced medical treatment for its children and reports no deaths from AIDS in the last 4 years. Almost all of the children are well and can attend school if they are old enough.

    3. 3.Promotes integrating people with HIV/AIDS into society and educates families and communities in how to treat and live with those who are affected.

    4. 4.Receives our assistance in building a new orphanage, to be opened in mid-2010.

    5. 5.Is twinned with St. John in Montville.


Food Programs:  We support 2 food programs outside of the twinning relationships. The Neighborhood Meals began in the late 1980s, when Mme. Samson, an elderly neighbor of our mission house in Port-au-Prince, asked for money to buy food to cook for starving children nearby.  The food program on the island of La Gonave, the poorest area of Haiti, began this year.

      Today, Neighborhood Meals:

    1. 1.Offers a meal and vitamins, five days a week, year-round to more than 70 children, many of whom get their only food at Mme. Samson’s small home.

    2. 2.Gets support since 2008 from another agency—Catholic Relief Services—which we brought in to expand and enrich the program to include a late-afternoon meal for another 20-30 children.

    3. 3.Has a full-time cook and program manager. (For many years, only Mme. Samson did the work.)

    4. 4.Is the proposed site for a music and arts & crafts workshop for the children.


  2. Today, the food program on La Gonave

    1. 1.Feeds 252 students at one school, five days a week for 10 months a year.


Medical Assistance: Along with the medical care and clinics connected to the twinning program, we medically help in 3 other significant ways. We support:

      Notre Dame de Lourdes Neighborhood Medical Clinic:

  1. In addition to her orphanage, Le Foyer des Filles de Dieu, Paula Thybulle founded a clinic in Port-au-Prince for the poor. Open six days a week, it provides medical treatments (from ophthalmology and dentistry to pediatrics and ob-gyn) usually for less than $3 a person. The clinic serves thousands of people a year. 

  2. Medical Missions:

  3. We regularly send teams of doctors, nurses and lab technicians to work with Haitian caregivers at Notre Dame de Lourdes and out on mobile clinics in rural communities. At each rural site, about 150 to 200 people are seen daily. Also, the teams provide in-service education to Haitian medical professionals. 

  4. Emergency Medical Assistance:

  5. At our Norwich Mission House in Port-au-Prince, we give money for emergency medication and treatment to our neighbors and to our scholarship students. 

Emergency Relief and Environmental Projects:  We help people and parishes in disaster areas (in Port-au-Prince and beyond), where hurricanes, storms and flooding have caused landsides and other devastation. Over the years, our mission house directors have worked with the International Red Cross and the United Nations in documenting emergency needs across the country following disasters. (Our staff have gone out in helicopters and in overland expeditions.) Also, we fund reforestation projects to reverse the environmental ruination caused by centuries of exploitation and poor management. 

  1. After the storms and hurricanes in late 2008, we helped 5 communities in mountain and delta regions outside Port-au-Prince. This relief aid:

    1. 1.Set up a canteen to feed thousands in one mountain community.

    2. 2.Arranged temporary shelter for thousands of individuals and families.

    3. 3.Paid workers to clear mountain roads wiped out in landslides.

    4. 4.Directly distributed cash so that Haitians could purchase what they needed most.

    5. 5.Rebuilt or repaired dozens of homes.

    6. 6.Purchased goats and pigs to replace livestock killed.

    7. 7.Paid full tuitions for 40 students who survived the collapse of their school where 94 others were killed. (None of the survivors was refunded tuition payments after the school collapsed only weeks into the academic year. We found a new school for 40 boys and girls and paid for their enrollments.)


  3. In environmental projects, we:

    1. 1.Provided 80,000 trees throughout the greater Port-au-Prince area over the last year.

    2. 2.Discourage use of charcoal and promote alternative fuels, including recycled paper briquettes.

    3. 3.Participate in national agricultural forums and initiatives.

    4. 4.Work closely with an environmental educator.


Norwich Mission House and Immersion-Retreat Visits to Haiti:  To build relationships between Haitians and Americans and their parishes, we organize and host trips in which visitors stay at our Norwich Mission House from a week to 10 days. They visit programs and projects we support, see other institutions and areas of Port-au-Prince, and usually visit a rural parish where they stay a night or two. During their stay, speakers of varied backgrounds and expertise come to the mission house to share insight into Haitian history, culture and society.

      Today, Norwich Mission House:

    1. 1.Hosts about 20 immersion visits annually, each with 5 to 10 people.

    2. 2.Provides lodging for dozens of others involved in NGO (non-government organization) work.

    3. 3.Serves as a small conference center for other NGOs in Haiti.

    4. 4.Is a support center for Haitian priests involved in twinning relationships and for ex-patriots working in Haiti.

    5. 5.Serves as a support center for students in the scholarship program.

    6. 6.Has a director and two assistant directors. (Eight Haitians are employed and receive medical insurance and other assistance for themselves and their families.)


Artisan Support:  Through our non-profit shop – Haiti’s Back Porch – in Middletown, Connecticut, we directly support 65 Haitian artisans and their families through the outright purchase of their art and crafts. In turn, we ship those goods to the United States, where we sell wholesale and retail. We also supply goods for parish sales, which help to support the Haiti Committees for the twinned parishes 

Outreach & Coordination among NGOs and others:  We find or provide the expertise needed to explore the feasibility of proposed projects and other undertakings by various agencies and groups.  We are a reliable connection to non-profits and services in Haiti. 

      With 25 years in Haiti, we are well respected by large international organizations and Haitian institutions. In fact, Anne Hastings, the head of FONKOZE (a premier micro-lending institution that has partnered with Paul Farmer and earned acclaim from Bill Clinton—the first special UN envoy to Haiti) first visited Haiti in our immersion program.

      Other associates and friends include:

    1. 1.International Red Cross/Haiti, where an official is one of our former mission house directors.

    2. 2.Cross International, which is a major supporter of our scholarship program and has partnered with us in other projects.

    3. 3.Catholic Relief Services, involved in the Neighborhood Meals program.

    4. 4.Save the Children/Canada, which has worked with us in evaluating orphanages.

    5. 5.World Food Program, which we have directed to communities in need of food.

    6. 6.Notre Dame University, with which we have collaborated for two years in a project to eliminate elephantiasis.

    7. 7.Hospitals in the capital, including: Hospital Pere Damien for children; Mother Teresa’s Hospital for Children; and Mother Teresa’s Hospital for the Dying.

    8. 8.US Embassy, for which we created a program for women and Girl Scouts to promote understanding of Haitian culture.



Executive Director: Emily Smack

Development Director: Kyn Tolson


Special Report on Haitian Ministries in Port-au-Prince

For a special report on the relief work of Haitian Ministries, please see a 2-day feature report at: http://www.theday.com/

This report, by reporter Karin Crompton and photographer Tim Martin of The Day newspaper in New London, CT, recounts their trip to Haiti in late January and early February.  They travelled with Haitian Ministries staff from Connecticut, who stayed at the ministry’s temporary mission house in Port-au-Prince.(The ministry’s mission house of many years was destroyed in the earthquake.)

The Day’s website also offers access to a special video and audio slideshows.


‘That’s the Spirit’ to Feature Haitian Ministries

The talk show “That’s the Spirit” produced by the Archdiocese of Hartford will feature Haitian Ministries on Sunday, Feb. 21.

Haitian Ministries for the Diocese of Norwich has been working in Haiti for the last 25 years and had a mission house in Port-au-Prince that was destroyed in the earthquake. The ministry is now doing relief work while continuing it support of two orphanages, 140 students in a scholarship program, a meal program for children, medical missions, and nine parish communities.

The half-hour program is on television, TXX (broadcast), starting at 10:30 a.m.(or shortly thereafter). Also, the show will be featured on the WJMJ-FM radio at 12:30 p.m. (or shortly thereafter) on 88.9 FM (Hartford); 107.1 FM (New Haven); and 93.1 FM (Hamden).

For more information, see: www.ortv.org


Update - Haitian Ministries Feb. 5