January 2010. Within 40 seconds earthquake destroyed everything in Bigonet. Homes. Church. School. Clothing. Cooking pots. Livelihoods. For some, even confidence in the earth itself.
But — not everything. Through hours and years that followed, the people of Bigonet cared for one another. And they re-built. Now, 2019, all village buildings, once again, stand strong.
All, that is, except the once-beautiful church of Bonne Nouvelle. Built in 1920 — a center of worship, community and safety — it’s now a patchwork of corrugated metal, broken concrete, fraying tarps.
But Bonne Nouvelle is much more than a place of worship and sacrament. Offering the only large space in the community, it is the place where people from far around gather— for safety from hurricanes, for school meetings and graduations, farmers’ and women’s organizations, medical clinics, emergency food distribution, and more.
Since 2010, Bonne Nouvelle (with average yearly incomes < $500) has taken special monthly collections toward building a new church. In 2018 they reached $800. They hired an engineer. In January 2019 Haiti’s Bishop visited Bigonet to lay a cornerstone — a symbol of hope.
In partnership since 2008, Bonne Nouvelle and St. James, together, are ready to build a new church.
The new building will be built closer to Bonne Nouvelle’s new school classrooms (built in 2015 with help from Finnish Church Aid (Lutheran) — away from the edge of the bluff from which it overlooks the River Cormier. Designed by the people of Bonne Nouvelle, it will be consistent with historical and cultural expectations in rural Haiti: one large open worship space for worship and community gatheriings, totalling ± square feet. A small sacristy and storage area. Electricity for lights and fans. No plumbing.
The people of Bonne Nouvelle are designing the building and contributiing money. Already they’ve carried rocks from the river to stabilize the hillside and they’re offering their time and skills for construction. In Haiti, where do-gooding outsiders routinely take control, this local authority is an act of significant pride.
St. James is walking alongside Bonne Nouvelle in the manner central to our partnership since 2008: raising money, helpiing solve problems, and, helping physically in whatever ways possible as we plan our regularly-scheduled 2020 visit to Bigonet.