St. James had traveled to Bigonet four times before we fully recognized the imbalance — before we understood that mutuality required that St. James and Bonne Nouvelle share the opportunities and responsibilities of being both hosts and guests. In 2012 we hatched a plan: every odd-numbered year travelers from Bonne Nouvelle would visit Minnesota; every even-numbered year travelers from Minnesota would visit Bigonet.
Requirements for Haitians to travel to Minnesota are not easily met. Bonne Nouvelle’s community developed a comprehensive process for selecting travelersm helping them acquire the clothes, luggage and other accoutrements of travel and helping support their families and absence from their jobs for two weeks away. St. James and its Minnesota friends (especially Trinity Lutheran in Hovland) raise money for travel documents, plane fares, Creole/English interpreters. And together we develop the materials necessary to meet the high (and sometimes mysterious) standards for granting Haitians Non-Immigrant Travel Visas.
But beyond a shadow of a doubt, the mutuality of these exchanges are central to the relationships upon which our partnership depend.
Photos: Haiti Committee Collection