It was a community fundraiser held by the Crosshill Mennonite Church, meant to help the congregation’s neighbours in Wellesley … and Haiti.
Last weekend, the church held a rummage sale, a tearoom, and a rhubarb and bake sale to raise money for two of its community building projects: the first involves building affordable housing for large rural families in Wellesley, including Low German families living in the area; and the second involves sending a team of volunteers, along with building and medical supplies, to Haiti to help build homes for impoverished residents near a mission.
The affordable housing project in Wellesley encompasses building two semi-detached homes that should be ready by November. The project is a team effort bringing together the resources of local builders and volunteers from the Old Colony Mennonite Churches in Ontario. The project is to be in the vein of a barn-raising.
“Basically people are providing free labour and in the end there’s an affordable house for the poorest people that are living in the rural country right now, which are the Mexican Mennonites,” said Margaret Holst, one of the event organizers.
Many tradespeople from local churches have already committed to donating their services, materials or a combination of both. Tenants will be selected from the caseloads of four outreach workers on a priority basis.
Crosshill Mennonite Church’s second project will involve bringing together funds and people in support of mission work in Cabaret, Haiti. The group hopes to enlist some 30 to 40 volunteers by February to travel to impoverished areas of the city and help build concrete homes – better able to withstand the elements in an area where mud huts are common – and provide medical services to people who are too poor to access such services in their own country.
Volunteers must each pay his or her way (around $1,800). This will cover the costs of transportation and room and board. In Haiti, volunteers will be able to work within the construction side of the project or its medical focus.
Crosshill Mennonite Church is taking on this specific project in Cabaret for the first time and is connecting there with Mission of Hope, a mission that has a permanent presence in the country.
“We try to get a team together and give as much medical care as we can in the two weeks that we’re there for people who never see doctors,” said Holst, who, having already travelled to Haiti twice, brought the idea to her fellow parishioners at Crosshill. Having gone with a Niagara-area church, Holst returned more than enthusiastic about her trip. As she told stories she noted people were interested to learn more.
She described her trips as an “eye-opener”
“It’s a country that you can’t visit and not be changed by it,” she said, noting that she was astounded by the poverty of the people she worked with.
“The way they live is incredible. They have nothing, they really have nothing. Even though they have nothing, it’s almost like they have more than we do in Canada: they take care of each other with the little that they have.”
The group is looking to raise between $15,000 and $20,000 before it leaves next winter.