Friday, January 15, 2010

HAITI - Yearbook Report

The following photos & info (unless otherwise noted) are taken from the 1994 Yearbook

(Branch Office in Haiti, pg 361 of JW Proclaimers)

*There are apprx 16,000 Witnesses and 220 congregations in Haiti, and the Memorial attendance was over 69,000 according the stats published in the 2009 Yearbook

Building a New Bethel (pgs 163-165)
A revolution ended the 28-year Duvalier rule on February 7, 1986. The nation rejoiced, hoping for better conditions. But the ruined economy and the quality of life continued to worsen as political instability brought six changes of government in six years, up to 1992! ...
Meanwhile, Jehovah’s Witnesses were anticipating a different historic event. Since November 1984, skilled international volunteers, from North America and other places, had been helping them to build new branch facilities on 11 acres [4.5 ha] of land at Santo, near Port-au-Prince. Haitian Witnesses with building skills were hired, and hundreds of others volunteered for the work. The U-shaped Bethel complex comprises offices, literature depot, and two-story residential quarters. An Assembly Hall was built at the same time.

These facilities were dedicated on January 25, 1987. Charles Molohan from the Brooklyn headquarters gave the dedication talk. It was a stimulating and joyful occasion. The brothers are proud of these branch facilities. But what do they think of the Assembly Hall? Summing up their feelings, Betty Wooten says: “The grounds are beautifully landscaped and adorned with trees and flowers. The hall—with modern conveniences—is designed for Haiti’s tropical climate. It is an honor to Jehovah’s people.” Fulgens Gaspard, who became a Branch Committee member in 1987, expresses appreciation for the fact that “it is well ventilated, making it possible to listen to the program in comfort.”

(Assembly Hall, pg 162, of the 1994 Yearbook)

Highly Appreciated Literature
The brochure Enjoy Life on Earth Forever! was published in Creole in 1987. The brothers welcomed it as a fine tool for helping people to visualize the new world, and they have been placing large numbers of it. It is a useful textbook in congregation literacy classes, which classes have contributed to the high literacy level among Jehovah’s Witnesses. From 1987 to 1992, these classes, which are also open to non-Witnesses, helped 1,343 people learn to read and write.

The book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth (in French) has helped thousands of people understand the Bible, and it is still in great demand. But in 1989 the booklet “This Good News of the Kingdom” was published in Creole, and of course, this is especially useful in Haiti.
Since 1989 the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work has captured the interest of youths both inside and outside the congregations. Young people frequently stop Witnesses on the streets to ask for it. Many books are being placed in schools by students or teachers.

(Haiti Branch Committee members, pg 169)

Branch Committee (pg 159)
The Branch Committee arrangement began operating in 1976. The original members were Michel Mentor, Sénèque Raphaël, and Défense Joseph, who had begun to serve as a special pioneer within 11 months of his baptism in 1962. Rodrigue Médor was made a member of the committee in 1977. In 1980, to care for his family obligations, Défense Joseph took up residence in the United States. When the booklet Blood, Medicine and the Law of God (in French) was received in 1978, the Branch Committee asked Wilner Emmanuel to contact the medical faculty of the University of Haiti. The dean assembled the medical students and requested that Wilner explain the viewpoint of Jehovah’s Witnesses on the matter of blood. After the talk, they were happy to receive complimentary copies of the booklet. Since then, as professional doctors, many of them have shown respect for the stand of Jehovah’s Witnesses against blood transfusions.

Official and Legal Recognition (pgs 165 & 166)
Legal recognition of an association to represent Jehovah’s Witnesses was once again granted in 1989. Since 1962 the Watch Tower Society had not been considered accredited in Haiti. But Jehovah’s Witnesses remained a recognized religion because the constitution guarantees freedom of worship. Over the years Rodrigue Médor had repeatedly met with government ministers, trying to obtain legal status for the Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But it was the government change in 1986 that brought a favorable climate for success. So the branch office’s Legal Committee applied to the new government for recognition. This was approved and, after some months, L’Association Chrétienne les Témoins de Jéhovah d’Haiti (Christian Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses of Haiti) became a legal corporate body.

Concerning this, Haiti’s official journal, on February 20, 1989, stated that “considering that l’Association Chrétienne ‘LES TÉMOINS DE JÉHOVAH D’HAITI’ has been contributing for many years to the education of the masses in rural and urban areas of the country by literacy classes,” it is recognized as a “public service organization” with “the rights and prerogatives connected with a corporate person.”
This is important because such an organization can own property. Previously, property for Kingdom Halls and the branch property had to be acquired in the names of brothers. Now ownership could be placed in the name of the association.