Hope in the Midst of Haiti’s Chaos

Pastor Paul Aladin



Students plant a tree in front of the United Hearts Center School in Cavaillon, Haiti. (Photos/Paul Aladin)

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

Pastor Paul Aladin left his native Haiti for America 30 years ago, but his heart remains in his homeland. On Saturday, his small congregation at Moorhead’s Bridgepoint Community Church continues the calling that has marked much of his life, raising funds to support a mission and school in the southwest corner of that embattled nation.
United Hearts for Haiti, the charitable organization he launched in 2008, is sponsoring its annual chili cook-off Saturday. It takes place in the little church at 121 17th St. N. from 2 to 5 p.m.
The chili feed is just one highlight of Aladin’s year-round efforts to support the United Hearts Center School in Cavaillon, a city of some 56,000 about three hours southwest of Port au Prince. The Haitian capital has been wracked by lawlessness for years as government has failed and warring gangs have taken over the streets. Hundreds of thousands have fled to rural villages and municipalities.
Aladin last visited the school he helped locals establish last December. His visit, which included the first graduation from its “Train to Sustain” vocational program, was cut short by an urgent warning to leave while it was still possible.
“Haiti’s situation is truly dire,” he says now. “It was bad the last time I was there, but this year it was 20 times worse. Since the assassination of the president in 2021, there has been no government. Gangs rule the streets. They have no ideology, no goal – just killing, stealing and destruction. Last week, they destroyed a hospital. A hospital! Why would you do that?
“Everything has stopped. The businesses and the schools are not open. There are no flights in or out. It is chaos.”
While Caricom, a consortium of Caribbean nations, is working with the United Nations and other western countries to achieve some sort of political stability, Aladin says, life does go on in relatively normal fashion in the country. That’s where United Hearts of Haiti continues its mission of bringing hope.
That hope has taken different forms over the 16 years Aladin’s charity has been connecting Fargo-Moorhead volunteers with Cavaillon. After the disastrous earthquakes of 2010 and 2021, hurricanes and political instability, that has meant providing humanitarian aid. But the main focus of United Hearts has been on education – helping young people build skills to forge their own futures. And the school is booming.
The United Hearts School started with vocational training in 2022, Aladin says. Young adults spend one or two years mastering practical skills that enable them to make a living – sewing, cooking, cosmetology and basic electricity. Its first class of 16 received diplomas last year; another group are scheduled to graduate later this year, though the nation’s chaos may disrupt that plan. Graduates remain close to the school, where they can use its facilities to get their own small businesses off the ground.
Last fall, Aladin says, United Hearts School expanded its program with what he calls a classical (secondary) school. In its first season, it welcomed 120 teens.
Besides raising funds to support its programs, United Hearts for Haiti has (in the past during safer times) brought volunteers from the Fargo-Moorhead area to Haiti to teach the faculty and students in their own areas of expertise. Two of the most important have been instruction in first aid and home health and in the building trades.
“We continue to motivate and educate,” the pastor says, “both in Haiti, and here, where people know so little about it.”
In addition to leading his multicultural congregation in Moorhead, Aladin tirelessly tells United Hearts’ story to the community – writing letters, speaking to service clubs and church groups, and generally seeking support for helping the Haitian people build better, safer lives.
“This is not the time for despair,” he says. “Good things will happen in years to come. School is our hope for the future.”
To learn more about Aladin’s work in Cavaillon, check out www.UnitedHeartsforHaiti.com.

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