Several First Churches members have been making annual visits to Haiti, along with the First Congregational Church of Longmeadow, to work with CONASPEH, an alliance of around 7,000 Protestant churches. CONASPEH operates a pre-school through 13th grade school, nursing program, and seminary, and is supported by the UCC-sponsored Global Ministries. In 2009 Pauline Bassett and David Entin met Miguelson Charles, an impressive CONASPEH high school graduate who translated for them. They stayed in contact with Miguelson, through the devastating earthquake and as he enrolled in the law program at a local University in Port-au-Prince. Pauline and David helped him apply successfully for admission to Trinity College in Hartford, which offered him a $50,000 a year scholarship, but the US State Department would not grant him a student visa to come to the US for his education. He is now half way through his five-year law program.

Miguelson received a tourist visa last month and for the first time visited the US and came to First Churches, where he spoke to us during a Second Hour program on January 18. Miguelson thanked First Churches for their financial and spiritual support. He told us about his family and life in Haiti and concerns that the current President has not allowed elections for the Parliament, which is now disbanded. President Martelly is now planning to rule by decree, the mark of an undemocratic dictator. We have further learned of plans for his administration to grant American corporations the rights to mineral wealth, such as gold, in Haiti, at the expense of the people, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Miguelson hopes to begin working for a movement for progressive change in Haiti, to wrest control from the elite 5% who own and control most everything in Haiti. He asked that we keep Haiti in our prayers.

David Entin & Pauline Bassett