Haitians Visit Naperville

Six months after a destructive earthquake rocked Haiti, its citizens still suffer from the after-effects. Four Haitian visitors staying in Naperville this summer are sharing their earthquake experiences while taking classes at St. Thomas the Apostle Church. “Water is not good and it’s difficult to find and they are living together in some place where garbage is,” Father Frantzdy Joseph says of the current condition in Haiti. Their visit to Naperville was planned prior to the earthquake. Host families were eager to welcome their visitors and extend their stay for three months as the nation struggles to recover basic services.

St. Thomas has had a relationship with a Haitian church long before the earthquake, and when it hit, parishioners donated $100,000 to relief efforts.

“There’s a good example of people according to their faith trying to help those in need,” said Joseph.

Though money has certainly helped, there’s still a long way to go when it comes to permanent recovery for the people of Haiti.

“If you give them the structure for them to work, to have a job, to have money, to pay rent to pay for school for their children, you will not have to come back to do the same things.” said Joseph.

While Haiti may seem like a far cry from Naperville, local residents embrace the visitors as one of their own.

“I really grabbed at the opportunity to first of all, give somebody else a good look at our country and see the positive things, said Naperville resident Linda Merz. She hosts one of the Haitian visitors. “But I also knew that we’d reap some benefits & grow ourselves.”

The Haitian visitors are scheduled to return home August 29th. They hope to share the knowledge they’ve gained here with their people as they continue to recover.

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