This year's travelers: Mary Ann Glaser (Orange, CA), Andrew McIntoch, Deb Stonich, Nancy Leonard (LaGrange, IL), Milena Liccione (Rochester, NY), Kathryn Burke, Karen Jackubak (Baton Rouge, LA), Karen Burke (Brentwood, NY),  Sheila Kennedy, Nancy Fitzgerald (Philadelphia, PA), Ann Delaney (Toronto), Shelley Butler, Sue Torgersen (Minneapolis, MN).This year's travelers: Mary Ann Glaser (Orange, CA), Andrew McIntoch, Deb Stonich, Nancy Leonard (LaGrange, IL), Milena Liccione (Rochester, NY), Kathryn Burke, Karen Jackubak (Baton Rouge, LA), Karen Burke (Brentwood, NY),  Sheila Kennedy, Nancy Fitzgerald (Philadelphia, PA), Ann Delaney (Toronto), Shelley Butler, Sue Torgersen (Minneapolis, MN).

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting College Couer de Maria. After a very tenuous beginning including purchase of land and promises of building funds and actual building setbacks and holding classes in temporary structures for several years, the new building is a reality with a growing student body of 240 students and 34 teachers. Next school year "our" girls will be in attendance. The teachers there report that the community is very grateful for this school, as for some, the only other option would be to attend school in Port-au-Prince, which requires sending children away from home to live with relatives or friends.

Annunciation School, where "our 10 girls" are currently enrolled is also growing with 220 students including two 1st grade classrooms. There is a definite need to add a second story to the building.

The staff is very stable, though one of our former teachers passed on to her new life recently. Wilda had taught at Annunciation for many years and was a help to the Director in many ways. The school shares part of the "campus" with the Village of Jesus, a home for elderly women. Wilda’s mother has now moved to that facility.

The group enjoyed a "spa day" with the women at the Village, rubbing lotion on resident's hands and feet, painting their nails, and despite the language differences, interacting with the ladies; love and caring break down all barriers. During the visit, Mission Haiti Inc. staff, Sr. Miriam, discussed needs for bedside tables and ceiling fans in the dormitories. Sr. Karen's community in Brentwood generously offered to fund the request. The group enjoyed a "spa day" with the women at the Village.

Another new opportunity for Mission Haiti and the Companions of Jesus is the opening of the Delmas Professional School, a new trade school in Port-au-Prince, currently offering classes in cooking and sewing with a view to construction classes soon. The group was served delicious baked goods, observed a sewing class in progress, and were impressed with the dedication of the students.

The original grant provided for education for 10 girls from grade school to secondary school extending to university or trade school. This vision is now a reality.  Some of "our" girls will have the opportunity to learn here.

Each trip is unique and this one had its share of "new experiences" for the travelers and Mission Haiti trip guides. In the past Jean Garry, our good friend, travel guide and interpreter, had provided vans for transport. This year because of the size of the group, he introduced the group to his new bus.

The trip also provided a trip into the mountains above Petionville to visit one of the oldest projects in that area, the Haiti Baptist Mission, and to tour Wynne Farm Nature Preserve owned by a Haitian woman. This part of the adventure had the group staying overnight at a Canadian organization’s guest house in the mountains.

The group was also able to spend time at two other primary schools under the care of the Companions of Jesus but that do not have organizational sponsors like Mission Haiti Inc., Ecole Foyer de Nazareth and Love of Jesus.  Both schools are in very poor areas of Port-au-Prince.

Jean Garry, our good friend, travel guide and interpreter, introduced the group to his new bus.

A trip would not be complete without a visit to Bethlehem Farm and a visit with Sister Edna. The farm continues to develop and produce livestock — goats, pigs, chickens — and wonderful produce for the sisters, students, and women at the Village, as well as cash crops, and food and jobs for the community. One of the longtime farm workers, Jacques, recently was married at the farm.

Another stop was Missionaries of Charity Wellness Center, a hospital and orphanage for children in Port-au-Prince. The group celebrated liturgy in Creole with the sisters and some children. They were able to tour the center and visit the babies and toddlers, but not able to volunteer for a shift caring for them.

The next stop was artist village in Croix des Bouquet, where the focus is on metal work, as well as the artist co-op in Port au Prince where they were able to find wonderful artifacts and support the local artists.

NPH Haiti St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in Port-au-Prince is part of the extraordinary ministry of Fr. Rich Frechette and his companions. The group toured the facility, learned of the many projects in place, and returned to celebrate Mass in the adjoining Chapel.