Rebuilding a Country One Suitcase at a Time
DECEMBER 2013: Last week Joseph Provost, President and founder of The Friends of Haiti Inc., and Rev. Susan Provost stepped away from the traditional hustle and bustle of the holiday season and found a way to rejuvenate their spirit. They headed to the Las Vegas airport with eight miserably heavy pieces of luggage. Now you’re like, huh? Navigating McCarran International Airport with a cumbersome load doesn’t sound like a break from the December hubbub. But to Joseph and Rev. Susan it’s an opportunity to enjoy a bit of giving. They faced chaotic traffic and tight airline seats so they could deliver eight pots of gold, at least it’s like gold to the people of Haiti. Each tattered piece of luggage was jam-packed with medical supplies, computers and cell phones—all donations for the students they support at The University of Notre Dame d’ Haiti. The Provost’s flight took them to Florida where they met an agent from Food for the Poor—a charity that collaborates with The Friends of Haiti Inc.
Food for the Poor generously shares space on their airplane. The luggage will travel to Haiti on the next mission flight to Port au Prince where a representative of The Friends of Haiti will meet the flight and receive the donations to distribute to the students. The whole process sounds exhausting; especially at this time of year, but Joseph and Rev. Susan believe their efforts are exactly what the season of giving should be about. Last year they did the Florida run three times, delivering a total of 45 pieces of luggage.
Why do they use their time, personal money and travel points instead of USPS? It’s not for an excuse to go to Florida, since they fly home only one day later; it’s because Joseph and Rev. Susan have a heart for Haiti, and a flight to Florida costs less than shipping eight large packages.
WANT TO KNOW MORE? Last year they did the Florida run three times during the holiday season. With a bit of charm, a lot of luck and a few kind employees, 72 year-old Provost overcame the two bag maximum airline restrictions. He and Rev. Susan brought a total of 45 pieces of luggage, each packed with medical supplies, food and clothing for needy students in Haiti.
Provost is no novice when it comes to helping Haiti one suitcase at a time. Five years ago when he first started volunteering, he arrived in Pignon, Haiti and helped build a community center. Prior to his arrival he filled his luggage with snacks, clothes, and the little soaps and shampoos collected from hotel stays. When he donated these items to the people in that small Haitian town, the ecstatic response was as if he had hosted a major giveaway (like Oprah’s Favorite Things)!
Provost continued volunteering in Haiti and soon discovered the doctor to patient ratio is 10,000:1. This inspired him to form his 501 c (3) charity called The Friends of Haiti Inc. (TFOHI). The charity has a focused mission—to grow the population of medical professionals. TFOHI provides scholarships to medical students who attend the University de Notre Dame d’Haiti. Scholarship students must pledge to remain in their country for a minimum of five years upon graduation, so they can play a role in helping their fellow citizens. Provost believes education is the first step in helping Haiti become a self-sustaining nation.
If you’d like to make a donation to The Friends of Haiti Inc. please visit the website www.thefriendsofhaitiinc.org or send a check to THE FRIENDS OF HAITI INC., 2520 Mesa Verde Terrace, Henderson NV 89074.