Recently I had the opportunity to hear Hermina Hyacinthe speak about her journey and the foundation that she created to assist the people in her hometown of Petit-Goave, Haiti.
Photo courtesy of Ste Jeanne D’Arc Haiti Foundation
Hermina grew up in Haiti and moved to the United States where she received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Boston University and a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Since then she has been working as an auditor in the financial industry. Upon visiting her hometown Petit-Goave she felt called to help the disadvantaged people there.
Hermina founded the Ste Jeanne D’Arc Haiti Foundation and set up a soup kitchen in Petit-Goave. While traveling in a rural area of Petit-Goave, Haiti in 2006, she saw people gathering water from a muddy pool. Upon asking questions she discovered it was the only source of water for hundreds of families. She knew that she had to help bring clean water to the community.
She donated the money and found a contractor to build a well. However there were no roads to get the materials to the site. The people volunteered to carry the materials in on their heads. Then they said that they would dig the well themselves. With Hermina’s help by providing the materials and paying the contractor to supervise the work, the residents of the rural area built a well that served over 900 families.
Then the 2010 earthquake struck Haiti. It has devastated not only Port-au-Prince but also many surrounding small towns including Petit-Goave. One-third of the residents of Petit-Goave perished in the earthquake. Hermina’s own mother who had been living in the United States for over 30 years was visiting Haiti at the time, and was badly injured in the quake. The well that was the only source of clean water for over 900 families was badly damaged and went dry leaving the people without access to clean water. Disease and malnutrition became rampant in Haiti. When the earthquake struck, Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Hermina found support from the members of Saint Bartholomew Parish in Needham, MA where they created the Haiti Project to assist Hermina and her Foundation. They raised the money to have another well built to replace the failed one. Through Hermina’s amazing skill of persuasion and by the grace of God, she conviced a driller to travel to their small town and then to not only build one well for the money that was raised, but in fact he felt compelled to build the community three wells on land donated by the community.
|Girls from the Petit-Goave orphanage with Hermina
and God Parents after their baptism
Photo Courtesy of Ste Jeanne D’Arc Haiti Foundation
Hermina and her Foundation began to work in other areas. They used the building that had been supporting the soup kitchen, which was miraculously still standing, to set up an orphanage as a permanent home and school for girls in the community. They would love to house boys as well, but their building is too small to properly accommodate living quarters for both boys and girls.
Their soup kitchen is operating as a food distribution service where they help feed over 250 people in the community and they are branching out. Their new goal is to help the people feed themselves. They are researching and developing an agriculture program to help disadvantaged people who own land, but do not have the money to purchase seeds or animals to set up farms in their area.
This is an amazing program and an amazing woman who has devoted her life to helping the people in her native town. In addition to their website, where you can donate directly to them via paypal, they have a Facebook page that you can “like” to receive periodic updates on the progress of Hermina and the Foundation’s projects in Haiti.
Please help spread the word about her work, because this is a very small, 501(c)(3) organization, and they depend on grassroots support to continue their work in Haiti.