Following a tour of Central America in the early 1980s, Sister Peggy O'Neill, SC, began serving in the Diocese of San Salvador in 1986 assisting refugees and accompanying them during the Civil War that was raging in El Salvador at that time. In 2006, Sister Peggy began El Centro Arte para la Paz, an educational and cultural center that promotes peace through dance, art and theological reflection, in Suchitoto, El Salvador, on the grounds of the historic Santa Imelda School and Convent.
Through programs that strengthen cultural identity and unity within the community, teach skills to support self-sufficiency and critical thinking, promote environmental awareness, teach gender equality, explore nurturing spirituality, and build bridges between cultures, the Center has served tens of thousands of people since its opening.
To learn more and to donate, visit the El Centro Arte para la Paz Website
The idea that once started as a dream, has now become a reality. We can finally announce, with such gratitude, that the restoration of the chapel has been finalized. This space will now be dedicated to artistic performances and historic memory as well as celebrating the sacredness of the gift of being human.
We are so grateful for you and your support. Without you, none of this would have been possible. Thus, we look back on the shared journey that we have walked through together.
From Suchitoto with love,
Sister Peggy O'Neill, SC
The Haitian Mission Initiative, directed by the 2003 General Assembly, is based on a thirty year history of deep and wide ties between our sisters and the Haitian people. This Initiative crystallized for us in 2001 when Sister Dianne Moore joined with a twinning parish from the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia journeying to Haiti. In 2005, Sisters Carol Ann Lockwood, Sharon Sage and Mary Dolores Spano departed for
Gros Morne, Haiti, for a collaborative mission with members of the Religious of Jesus and Mary from Mt. Rainer, Maryland.
Once again, in 2011, the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth returned to Haiti. Initially, Sister Dianne Moore and Sister Janet Lehmann lived with three Maryknoll Sisters in LaTremblay. Several years later, the Maryknoll Sisters closed their ministry in Haiti. Sister Janet moved to Jacmel and Dawn Colapietro, Seton Associate, joined Sister Dianne in 2014.
Our current work in Haiti is focused on a commitment to building strong communities by giving special attention on the women and children who are most at risk. There are presently eight different active programs: Medical Clinic, Water Purification Program, Goat Project, Agricultural Program, Microloans, Elementary School, Trade School and Disaster Relief.
PROGRAMS IN HAITI
100 trained water women are purifying over 30,000 gallons of water a month for their families and neighbors. The goal is to work with other NGOs in helping to wipe out Cholera.
Cost to equip each water women with a filter and water bucket: $100
Originally taught in makeshift huts built from used lumber and tin, the children of Cuvier are now learning in a brand new school built by Food for the Poor. Thanks to monies raised from local Catholic Schools, private donors, and the Dominican Sisters of Hope, we are now educating 250 of some of Haiti's poorest children. For more information about the school, see Circle of Friends poster below.
Tuition: $100 a year per child
We are the only school in the area with an Agronomy Program. Our Agriculturist teaches the children about agronomy in the classroom and also gives them the responsibility of planting and harvesting our garden. The vegetables from the garden are also used to supplement the nutritional base of the school lunch program.
Cost to seed and fertilize per year: $300
We have the only free medical clinic in the area for children and adults living in Cuvier. We also have a Wellness Program where each child in the school is given an annual medical screening. A community health worker provides classes on such topics as nutrition, hygiene, and dental care. Cost - physicians $100 a month; prescriptions $100 a month
We have 70 families in our “Pay It Forward Program” where we give a family two goats and they give us the goats first offspring to give to another needy family. Goats are a source of food and income for families in Haiti.
Cost for new goat: $75
We have given out 25 microloans to women to start their own business. We provide training and mentoring which results in an unusually high loan repayment rate. Average loan is $500.
We have also developed a 4 day “Principles of Entrepreneurship” seminar and award $500 to the participant who submits the best business plan.
MICROLOAN AND BUSINESS SEMINAR PROGRAM
We have built 10 homes and will soon be building another 3 for families made homeless by hurricanes and floods. We also installed 2 new wells and repaired 4 other wells in local villages without water. We also rebuilt 10 cooking areas and latrines washed away by storms.
Cost: Latrines $75, Cooking areas $75, Wells $5500, Houses $3700.
Thus far, our school has graduated 64 students and has another 35 students enrolled. This trade school is a path to economic independence since many of the graduates become tailors and seamstresses.
Cost to train each student: $75
This year, we expanded the enrollment at our school in Haiti from 250 children to 350 because several of the schools in a nearby city had to close as a result of all the gang activity. Despite the very difficult challenges facing the country, this year we were able to add an additional grade allowing us to offer preschool through 9th. We also started a music program and just shipped three barrels of instruments including a saxophone, clarinet, flutes, keyboards, guitars, tambourines, speakers, and even a karaoke machine!
My name is Sarah. I am the cute one waving to you on the left. In Haiti, it only costs $100 to send one of us kids to school for the whole year. That money pays for teachers, books, school supplies, and lunch for us every day! All it takes is for five friends to get together and contribute $20 each. We want to get as many Circles of Friends, and other people too, to help me and my friends go to school.
Can you help us?
Sarah and my Circle of Friends