They Took a Village

We have a community here on St. Croix that reaches deeply- into their pockets, into their hearts, and into their consciences to help a good cause. There’s no shortage of those, certainly not here on our own island.

This past Friday night I went to an art show fund raiser that was unlike any other I had ever been to. One of our local galleries – Maufe` by name, hosted at its’ own expense, a show dedicated to a newly formed, St. Croix based non profit organization known as Haiti Community Support. Please don’t stop reading now. There is a very important story to be told here.

Headed by Bruce and Mathilde Wilson, they have devoted their lifes’ work to changing a pocket of humanity, one cinderblock, one child, one bag of rice at a time. Mathilde has lived on St, Croix for many years but was born in Au Centre, a poor among the poorest village in the mountains of Haiti.

They have made numerous trips back to her village where not one child had ever been to a school or had even seen a school. Through the setting up of their 501 (c )3 organization, they have raised some of the funds necessary to build a school and hire two teachers to make sure that the next generations have an opportunity to improve their lives.

I’d like to offer some quoted text from Mathildes’ Spring 2008 newsletter as no one can put this into words better than she can-

HCS Newsletter Spring/Summer 2008

“For each of my 41 years on this earth, my country, Haiti, has been a place of terrible suffering and despair. I’ve wondered all my life how this holocaust could be allowed to continue, year after year, with no meaningful intervention from the developed world.

Recent press stories about mud cookies and deforestation, food rotting in the ports, and hunger riots in the cities are shocking and discouraging. But Haiti has been this way on and off since my earliest memories. I’m worried that if that’s all people hear about Haiti, maybe they’ll just completely give up on us.

Sensational stories hide the greater truth: That Haiti’s survivors are eager to rebuild their ravaged country – if given even minimal help. Deep in the mountains, in the poorest and most forgotten of mountain villages, our school kids and their parents are today making great progress; planting a community garden, running the school lunch program, and learning new skills. Men and women who have survived the odds already just by staying alive, defy the odds again, to build a school and a medical clinic.

Making progress in Haiti is difficult and exciting work. You’ve been a part of our success. We’re a young organization, and early supporters like you are especially important to the future of an effort like this.

I and my husband have been working in Haiti for the love and exhilaration of success. What has kept us going has been your support and encouragements, and especially the hard work and dedication of our village leaders in Haiti.

I hope you enjoy reading some good news out of Haiti. Feel proud! It’s news you are helping to make happen! “


Mathilde Aurelien-Wilson
Director HC

The gallery event Friday night was something that made every resident here feel proud of our community. Up for auction were paintings by Haitian artists, some of our local artists, and in the best tradition of total involvement, paintings by young local art students, some of whom never painted before.

This was coordinated by the supreme efforts of Monica Marin, the art teacher of Country Day School here. What this group accomplished was not only raising over $10,000, just last night, but to instill in children here that what they do can make a difference.

If all we do is focus on what’s wrong with our society and our politics and policies, we will become beaten down and deadened. There is so much to be done, and thankfully, there are people like Bruce and Mathilde who risk so much and try so hard and in the end, refer to themselves as a ” lucky crew”. How can we not help them? With last Friday nights’ collection they will be able to expand the school and add another 50 children from neighboring villages.

There is no doubt that unlike any other agency you may give to during the year, there need be no question as to where every penny goes. It ALL goes to the children and families of Au Centre.

Please have a long, deep look at the photos.

I’d like to ask you all to visit their website here to see what the best of humanity is capable of and click on their automatic payment button to make a real difference in the lives of people who have never known running water, electricity, a meal before bed and still, only want an education.

Thanks to all my readers and friends for indulging me in something I feel so very strongly about and just know that whatever you can do- will truly make a difference. Let’s all take a village.

Peace and love now more than ever.

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10 Responses to “They Took a Village”

  1. judylobo Says:

    Wonderful post, always. Last night I watched a 60 Minutes segment on Partners in Health –

    It was very moving as is your information. Thanks you.

  2. bonnieluria Says:

    Thanks Judy for the link- I saw the same program and thought how timely it was. I had written my post before I knew the show was being broadcast.
    Some incredible people still populate this world of ours.

  3. Paz Says:

    What a wonderful-sounding event. Bruce and Mathilde sound like very special people. I like the photos taken in Haiti.


  4. Frank Gardner Says:

    Great post Bonnie. It is great that Bruce and Mathilde do this. I try to donate to several local groups like that each year. If everyone would just help out groups like this just a bit it could make a big difference.

  5. bonnieluria Says:

    Paz, Thanks for your comment here. They are two remarkable people and it’s been my honor to have their warm friendship.

    Frank- So glad you left this note. You probably have similar feelings about where you live and can easily understand that one person at a time, we can all do something. We can’t fix EVERYTHING but we can start somewhere.

  6. Paulette Says:

    Hi Bonnie,
    What a great group. It’s nice to know that the funds are going directly to the schools, children and village. I met a couple doing the same thing, for their village in Africa. It gets depressing to find out that food supplies and money go places and never reach the people in need. People like this make it happen in a wonderful and unique way.

  7. Reggie Says:

    Thanks for the link. They are a forgotten people who need a chance, brick by brick.

  8. bonnieluria Says:

    Paulette- Thanks for taking the time to drop a note. One person at a time. That’s what we can accomplish. The bigger picture is not do-able.

    Reggie-If you’ve clicked on the link and meet Bruce and Mathilde in more depth, you’ll want to meet them on your upcoming return here to St. Croix.
    Read up on Paul Farmer too, ( see Lobos’ address link in earlier post above ) the world renowned physician who has literally changed thousands of lives in Haiti.
    Bruce and Mathilde are working very closely with him too.

  9. TerryC Says:

    I have been ruminating about commenting on this post for a long time, Bonnie. One of the huge things I love about island people is their incredible generosity.

    The spirit of giving is so prevalent in these parts. We buy things from Miss Judith even though we don’t need or want them, etc. And we know so many others who give so much even though they have so little.

    It is truly and so deeply inspiring!

    The only, sort of, issue I have with getting involved in a project like this is, well, I also have differences of opinion with the traditional educational institutions. I see schools trying to make beautiful young people into robots for continuing to run the “machine” called western “civilization”. And I have a master’s degree in education! So you can see why I am not a teacher. I became very uncomfortable in classroom situations when this became apparent to me.

    A school like this in Haiti will teach the children to be like the children we see in other western “civilized(?)” countries?

    Is pushing our cultural ways onto people who live in ways that we have difficulty accepting justifiable?

    These are thoughts that take me a long time to formulate into expressible words.

    Just wanted to let you know how thought provoking all of your posts are.


  10. bonnieluria Says:

    Terry, as usual, your thoughts and words are meaningful and well chosen. I know what you refer to ( think of the white missionaries who had to convert Polynesians to their way of life, etc.)
    The goal of HCS , and with the daily overseeing of Mathilde, who is from that village, is not to change a culture but to provide basic skills of living in order to create and maintain a self sufficiency that can sustain this village.

    It’s always evident to me when I read your postings on St. Croix on your blog that you see the broad scope of this culture and how vital it is to recognize and celebrate it.

    Not all progress is beneficial, but the right balance of honoring a society and giving it the tools it needs for independence and sustenance is essential for that society to survive.

    Thanks for leaving your very honest and heartfelt comments.

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