In 2012, two Felician Sisters arrived in Haiti to begin a ministry of presence when a young child knocked on their door saying, “Mwen grangou” — “I am hungry”. With only a few granola bars in their backpacks, Sisters Marilyn Marie Minter and Mary Inga Borko started feeding hungry children at their front door. More than eight years later, Felician Mission: Haiti has fed, educated, and provided spiritual guidance to hundreds of children who are now young adults in need of higher education, job skills, and employment opportunities in order to be self-sufficient. The Sisters knew they needed to do more.
Dr. Jean-Paul Bonnet, a long-time friend and supporter of the Felician Sisters shared in their dream of building a bakery to provide sustainability for the people of the Diocese of Jacmel. A bakery may sound like a luxury, but a bakery in Jacmel could be a lifeline. Instead of decorative cupcakes and pastries, this bakery will make bread — a luxury in Haiti, where 30% of the population is food insecure.
Modeled after a similar bakery in Les Cayes — a four-hour drive from Jacmel — the bakery will also provide opportunities for job training and employment, especially for Haitian mothers. The Les Cayes bakery produces approximately 1,600 dozen rolls per day which are given to women called “retailers” who then sell them. In addition to providing these women with a source of income, the Sisters who operate the bakery also provide them with tuition for one of their children to attend school. They now employ about 40 such retailers.
After years of planning and meetings, the Sisters have acquired a piece of land from the Jacmel diocese, which is now being prepared for construction. For the bakery to work, access to clean water is necessary — a true luxury when most Haitians must walk several miles to the nearest well. To access water, Dr. Bonnet is collaborating with Water for Life, a non-profit organization that has drilled more than 1,800 wells in Haiti and will also dig wells for Felician Mission: Haiti and a nearby school.
Construction will take some time, but the Sisters at Felician Mission: Haiti are beginning to identify women who will be a good fit to train and work in the bakery. More than half of the households in Haiti are supported by women, so the creation of opportunities for mothers to care for their families is a priority. When two of every three Haitians do not have steady work, job creation is essential.
While the construction of the bakery has been delayed by political uprising, Dr. Bonnet is hopeful that it will begin this summer. Sr. Marilyn said, “Praise the Lord! We are getting closer to fulfilling our dream of creating jobs through accompaniment, relationships, and empowerment!”
We invite you to join us for a virtual Hope in Haiti event with the Sisters from Felician Mission: Haiti on Sunday, March 21, from 2-3pm EST. Click here to register.