Pax Christi USA - PSA e-Bulletin
Pray-Study-Act: As we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis 
 on October 4, 2013
In This Issue
PRAY: To Protect and Heal God's Creation
STUDY: Opportunities to study, educate and contemplate
ACT: Witness, share the news, join us

On The Web

Host a showing of the excellent documentary, Cite Soleil:  Sun, Dust and Hope 


  Check out CNN story on SAKALA urban gardens


  See Pax Christi USA's webpage on "Global Restoration/Care for Creation


Consider sharing Pax Christi USA's Prayer for Global Restoration available on our website 


Link to video about SAKALA Urban Gardens on MINUSTAH (UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti - in French)


  Read the USCCB Pastoral Statement "Renewing the Earth"

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Sept. 30, 2013


This Pray-Study-Act e-bulletin was crafted at the request of our Global Restoration Committee to share a global restoration and care for creation perspective as we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis.  In addition we also want to shine a light on the international ministry of creation care taking place in Haiti and with the SAKALA program.  

~Special thanks to Manuel Padilla and Amy Watts,  Haiti Project Co-Coordinators



 "In 1979, I proclaimed Saint Francis of Assisi as the heavenly Patron of those who promote ecology (cf. Apostolic Letter Inter Sanctos: AAS 71 [1979], 1509f.). He offers Christians an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation. As a friend of the poor who was loved by God's creatures, Saint Francis invited all of creation-animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon-to give honour and praise to the Lord. The poor man of Assisi gives us striking witness that when we are at peace with God we are better able to devote ourselves to building up that peace with all creation which is inseparable from peace among all peoples.


--from Pope John Paul II, Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace:  Peace with God the Creator, Peace with all of Creation, 1 January 1990



To say ecology is a primary concern when talking about the deficiencies of development in Haiti is a vast understatement. Environmental degradation is the taproot of many of Haiti's difficulties and has spread a parasitic system that leaches the potential from what would otherwise be Haiti's fertile, social soil. Anyone who has visited Haiti has experienced the paradox between its natural beauty and the mar that has been left from Haiti's many attempts to economically stabilize itself and provide for its basic needs, often under the pressure and greed of other countries. Perhaps many of these attempts have been opportunistic, but many more are simply the cost of doing business as a human being in modern society.


The environmental concerns in Haiti are widespread: the use and abuse of plastics with no way of disposing of them, deforestation for the creation of cooking coal and the resulting soil erosion, the lack of public sanitation and corresponding chronic health issues, air pollution, and the more recent phenomenon of mineral mining. Furthermore, the increased strength of tropical storms, a presumed side effect of global climate change, is putting Haiti in a precarious position as it cannot yet muster the political will to address even its most urgent social and infrastructure issues.


This is the context in which we talk about ecology in Haiti. Many of the issues above are exacerbated in Port-au-Prince's most impoverished neighborhoods, not the least of which is Cite Soleil, where Pax Christi Port-au-Prince has a program called SAKALA. They have a community center for neighborhood collaboration and transformation. See the sidebar for a link to the DVD resource on the SAKALA project in Cite Soleil. Their focus began with soccer and peace education for youth in the neighborhood, but they are slowly becoming known for their environmental work as well.


The crown jewel of SAKALA's ecological programming is surely the Jaden Tap Tap garden, an urban agricultural initiative which started as an idea to clean up a dumping ground next to their program site, used as a way of teaching children (and their parents) the value of and possibility for natural space in an urban context. Children and community members come to tend a variety of vegetables and trees as well as attend educational programming on topics of ecology and nutrition. Their garden has received international attention due to its size and seemingly unlikely location in a place that many NGO's have written off as hopeless. Currently Pax Christi Port-au-Prince is piloting a program with neighborhood women to teach them urban gardening practices in order to both address food insecurity and provide a way to make extra money through the sale of their crops. Nearby, composting toilets serve as a way forward for sanitation and as a method to increase the amount of arable land for the garden, the community, and farmers outside the city. All of these efforts can be seen as climate adaptation strategies, much like those being discussed by cities like Chicago, LA, or New York, but at the local community level and certainly without comparable funding or coordination.   (Impressive to say the least!!)

PRAY: To Protect and Heal God's Creation

This Pledge of Commitment may be read in unison or in alternation:

We have come to renew our covenant with God and with one another in Christ Jesus, 
We have come to help protect God's creation.

We have come as followers of Jesus to commit ourselves anew to one another and to heal injustice and poverty.

We have come to stand together against all threats to life.

We have come to discover some new beauty every day in God's creation: the sunrise and sunset,
birds, flowers and trees, rainbows in the sky, the stars, the many forms of life in the forest.

We have come to listen to the "music of the universe"- water flowing over rocks, the wind, trees
bending in the wind, raindrops pattering the roof.

We will remember always that God speaks to us through the beauty of creation, and we will
try our best to answer God's call to reverence all that has been created.

from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 

STUDY: Opportunities to study, educate

and contemplate


Oftentimes a developing country is subjected to playing a role of 'playground' for environmental organizations who would like to parent the country and ensure they skip modern economic development practices, along with many of their devastating environmental side effects, and move directly into 'greener' solutions. While the intentions and goals of these groups are admirable, too often these kinds of projects may be themselves unsustainable. We understand the major strength of the ecological work of Pax Christi Port-au-Prince as rooted in the community, where Haitian's themselves are part of choosing solutions that are functional for their context, oftentimes utilizing the wisdom of environmental education without themselves being objectified as a pet project of an outside entity.


Education for peace has been the suture of this ecological wound for Pax Christi Port-au-Prince. They, like many other environmentalists, increasingly see ecological education and action as inextricably linked to their efforts toward the realization of peace and justice in Haiti. Their work is now becoming a model that is attracting international attention and challenging the stereotypes that are generally held about the youth in the neighborhood.  We share this video link from MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) also highlighting the work of SAKALA. 

ACT: Witness, share the news, join us


Recently, CNN did a short report on the urban garden of SAKALA in Cite Soleil.  Please view the video here to see the latest images of the Jaden Tap Tap Garden: 




Then, use your email and Facebook to pass it on to others who might be interested. If you would like to be more involved or learn more about Pax Christi Port-au-Prince and their program, SAKALA, in Cite Soleil, please visit our website SAKALA page and send an email to mpadilla@paxchristiusa.org or awatts@gmail.com . 


For more information on Pax Christi's Global Restoration initiative visit our website.   Also consider joining the Pax Christi GReen Mail email list for monthly updates on Global Restoration and Care for Creation.