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November 4, 2018
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November 4, 2018

WWME in Haiti

Participants and facilitators at the Rookie Weekend at Gressier.

WWME Trinidad & Tobago has reached out to Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and even Haiti. The following is adapted from a WWME report on the Haiti outreach.

The origin of the expansion to Haiti began with the adoption of a seven-year-old Haitian girl by a Belgian couple in the early 80s.

In 2011, Marcel and Colette Maquet travelled to Haiti with their daughter so she could meet her biological parents. It was during this visit that Marcel and Colette made connections with Salesian missionaries and other Haitian priests who, in turn, visited them in Belgium in 2012.

Marcel and Colette were serving on the WWME National Council of Belgium (French) at the time, and talked to their Haitian visitors about the Movement. Within the next year, two Haitian priests travelled to Belgium to participate in a weekend.

In July 2014, the North American ecclesial team (Karen and Scott Seaborn and Fr Tom Ogg) asked the Canadian Council to work with Belgium to continue the outreach to Haiti.

Over a period of three weeks, teams from Belgium, Canada and Trinidad shared the WWME message of love with 91 couples.

The team consisted of: Belgians Marcel and Colette Maquet, who presented two weekends in 2014 (Cap Haïtien), Bernadette and Joseph Detiffe, and Fr Ralph Shmeder; from Region 2-Can: Richard Doyon and Sylvie Lanteigne, Fr Jean-Luc Laflamme; and Region 3-Can: Lynn and Deacon Malcom Joab, support team, who learnt French.

The first Rookie Weekend took place at Gressier. The centre used was part of a large boarding school run by Catholic priests belonging to the order of St Francis de Sales (Salesians). Twenty-six couples were educated.

Next, Belgian and Canadian teams journeyed for 12 hours to Jacquezyl. This weekend was a follow-up to a rookie weekend, presented two years earlier by the loving team from Belgium. A total of 41 couples joined the follow-up.

Although the teams from Canada and Trinidad had returned home by now, the Belgium lovers remained behind for another week to present a third Haitian weekend, this time in Gressier with 28 couples. They were assisted by seven couples from the first weekend.

In addition to linguistic and cultural barriers, some of the challenges the WWME teams faced included overwhelming heat, black dust, exhaust fumes, lack of washroom facilities, sewage smells, power outages, mosquitoes, disorderly travel conditions within Haiti, and a volatile political climate with crowds and demonstrations in the streets and the United Nations patrolling.

As a follow-up, WWME Belgium invited four couples and two priests to Belgium for another Rookie Weekend and Deeper Training Weekend. Also, Regions 2 and 3 in Canada reached out to Richard and Karen Ann St Cyr, a Haitian-American couple who agreed to assist couples in writing talks when they return so they will be able to conduct weekends in the Haitian-Creole language.

Due to geographic proximity to the Caribbean region, and a large French-speaking population, it is anticipated that Haiti will become an outreach Encounter under Region 3-Canada.