GENEROSITY OF HEART
Minnesota visitors to Bigonet describe Bonne Nouvelle’s generosity as “off the charts” — non-stop gestures of welcome and friendship. Giving up their beds for the comfort of their visitors. Offering gifts of song, almonds, and skillfully-crafted sculptures and other art. Teaching us to cook. Designing and sewing skirts and more in their new sewing class.
Teen visitors to Bigonet are especially moved by the generosity of spirit that pervades Bigonet’s village life. They talk of a sense of community unlike any they’ve experienced before — daily interactions in which people know one another, welcome one another into their homes, attend to one another’s needs.
As St. James faces life-changing decisions re the future of our parish, Bonne Nouvelle partners teach us to trust in God’s love — to be confident in God’s will for our future.
Thankfully, generosity of heart flows both directions. When their village was destroyed in the earthquake of 2010, Bonne Nouvellians told us of the importance of our confidence in them as they faced the tasks of re-building.
When they visit Minnesota, Bonne Nouvellians are greeted wherever they go with an eagerness to share our lives with them.
It’s true that Haiti’s economic poverty is deep and long-lived. While Bigonet’s strong barter economy assures that most people receive the barest necessities, cash incomes of less than less than $500 per year consistently deny access to health care, electricity, transportation, advanced education, travel — often even furniture and clothing.
In this context, it’s easy to see the impact of our partnership on the daily lives of people in the village. A summary of finances of the past ten years gives a quick glimpse of ways in which St. James and our Minnesota friends (Trinity Lutheran in Hovland, St. Mary’s Episcopal in St. Paul, Anwatin Middle School and Kenwood Retirement Community in Minneapolis) have generously supported the people of Bigonet.
Bonne Nouvelle’s School teaches ±300 students, pre-K thru 9th grade. To support the school, our partnership has helped pay teacher salaries, paid for school lunches, supported creation of a sewing class, helped build a playground and wall. After the earthquake of 2010, and again following Hurricane Matthew in 2016. we provided emergency food relief and assistance for re-building Bigonet’s economy.
Our fundraising strategies: a yearly pledge-drive at St. James, fish suppers at Trinity, selling Haitian art at the Kenwood and other venues, coin drives at Anwatin, a Crowdrise campaign that reached far and wide.
Not bad for a little church like St. James … with a membership of fewer than 100 people!
2019 offers a heart-felt challenge: to build a new church & community center. Built in 1920, Eglise Episcopale Bonne Nouvelle (along with the school and every home in the village) tumbled in the earthquake of 2010. In the 8 years that followed, the people of Bigonet re-built & expanded their school and re-built homes. Now it’s time for the church itself to once again provide safety and beauty for Bigonet.
Photos: Louise Robinson, Louis Noncent, Kris Garey, Ruth Anne Olson