Haiti Solidarity Network of the North East, known affectionately as HSNNE, came to be in 1993, after a Pax Christi delegation traveled to Haiti in support of an infant democracy and democratically elected president. Father Jack Martin was one of the travelers and returned home recognizing the need of the Haitian people for support and solidarity in their struggle for human rights and freedom. With the help of Father Gene Squeo, Bill Crum and others, they began to meet on a regular basis to keep the commitment to Haiti alive. Over the next few years, HSNNE became a nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization, initiated a newsletter called “Kenbe Fèm” and held regular meetings attended by a growing membership. The group focused on current issues affecting Haiti and visits to Haiti by members and others to learn about needs and provide help when possible.
In 1998, Father Joe Towle, MM, asked Father Jack and HSNNE member, Normand Varieur, to help produce a video documentary in the Maryknoll Series on Children of the World, featuring a teen age girl in Marigot, Haiti.
In 1999, Pax Christi awarded the Dorothy Day Peace Award Father Jack and HSNNE.
In 2000, Georgette Delinois became president, succeeding Fr. Jack. Normand Varieur initiated a liaison with a Catholic Law School in Jeremie called Ecole Superieure Catholique de Droit de Jeremie, ESCDROJ, which was founded by Bishop Willy Romelus to prepare lawyers able to build and function in a government under the rule of law. Fr. Gene and HSNNE member, Judy Reilly, worked to establish a relationship between ESCDROJ and Seton Hall Law School, which has grown into collaboration between the schools and the development of the Haiti Rule of Law Project at Seton Hall. At the tenth anniversary graduation of ESCDROJ in 2006, Fr. Gene and Judy were honored as Godparents of the first graduating class.
Members studied and chose, as one focus of attention, deforestation in Haiti. The effort advanced by the ground breaking and diligent work of HSNNE member, Gene Herrington. Gene’s work formed a basis for our early support of reforestation efforts by the Religious of Jesus and Mary in Gros Morne, and our ongoing support of an agronomy project in Vallieres, where OLM, Park Ridge, NJ, was expanding twinning outreach.
HSNNE supports and collaborates with the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas (PTPA), formerly known as the Haiti Parish Twinning Program, founded by Theresa Patterson and Harry Hosey out of their Catholic parish in Nashville, Tennessee. Through the efforts of members, Tonie Malone, Father Jack and Normand, twinning relationships were established between several New Jersey Catholic parishes and parishes in Haiti. Among them are St. Joseph’s, Keyport, twinned with a parish in Pignon; St. Catherine’s, Mountain Lakes, twinned with a parish in Dame Marie; Our Lady of Mercy, Park Ridge, twinned with a parish in Vallieres; Our Lady of the Lakes, Sparta, twinned with a parish in Acul du Nord; Presentation Church, Upper Saddle River, twinned with a parish in Cavaillon; Most Blessed Sacrament, Franklin Lakes, twinned with a parish in Bodmè de Limonade; St. Joseph’s, Lincoln Park, twinned with a parish in Grand Vincent and St. Patrick’s/Assumption
All Saints, Jersey City, twinned with a parish in Jacmel. Medical missions, scholarship programs, micro-credit programs and the organization of community peasant groups have flourished in these parish-twinning relationships. Members, Dr. Sue Morrison (medical missions), Tonie Malone (micro-credit and scholarships), Clauvice St. Hilaire (peasant group organization), Judy Reilly (micro-credit and scholarships) and Joe Parlapiano (scholarships and education) have worked long and hard in their Haitian twin communities.
Following the coup d’etat in Haiti in 2004, HSNNE members undertook an effort to advocate for democracy and justice in Haiti, contacting and visiting our elected government representatives and speaking to members of the public concerning the continuing human rights struggles in our beloved land.
Board members, Georgette Delinois, Dieudonne Bazile and Clauvice St. Hilaire, acted as translators and facilitators on many parish twinning and HSNNE missions. Board member, Sister Kay Coll, served as a staff member of Hospice St. Joseph’s in Port-au-Prince. Member, Sister Carol Ann Lockwood, ministered in Gros Morne with the Monfortain Fathers and the Religious of Jesus and Mary. Member, Pierre Moreau, is a Bureau of Immigration Affairs Accredited Representative, working for Catholic Charities in Newark, representing many immigrants in court proceedings.
On April 19, 2008, Fr. Gene received the Pax Christi NJ Dorothy Day Peacemaker of the Year Award for 2007.
HSNNE has supported and worked with other groups and people in solidarity with the Haitian people, such as Guy Antoine- Windows on Haiti.com, Brian Concannon- Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Mario Joseph- Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, Paul Farmer- Partners In Health, Sisters Patricia Dillon, Jackie Picard and Vivian Patenaud- Religious of Jesus and Mary, Evel Fanfan- AUMOHD, Ninaj Raoul- Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, Movimiento De Mujeres Dominico-Haitiana, NYU School of Law Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Hands Together for Haiti, and the Visitation Hospital Foundation in Ti Riviere de Nippes, Haiti.
HSNNE has been privileged for over 20 years to co-operate in fair trade marketing of hand made items brought from Haiti to many New Jersey-based churches.
In October of 2009, Georgette and Judy Raymond accompanied Fr Michael Lapsley, the legendary Episcopal priest who was left severely disabled when opening a letter bomb as he served as an activist in anti-apartheid South Africa. This courageous priest now travels the globe presenting “Healing of Memories” workshops. Georgette and Judy served as translators and team members, working with family and friends of victims of the Gran Ravine Massacre, at a workshop held at Matthew 25 House in Port au Prince.
Board members Georgette Delinois, Dieudonne Bazile, Clauvice St.-Hillaire, Judith Raymond, and Father Gene Squeo, have served as facilitators and translators for various delegations and missions. Sister Kay Coll spent three years as a staff member at Hospice St. Josef in Port au Prince. Sister Carol Ann Lockwood ministered in the village of Gros Morne. Board Director Pierre Moreau is a Bureau of Immigration Affairs Accredited Representative with Catholic Charities in Newark, often representing Immigrants in court proceedings. Fr Squeo is an adjunct professor of Catholic Social Teaching at St. Peter’s University, Jersey City. Iz 2007, Fr Squeo received the Dorothy Day Peacemaker of the Year Award.
HSNNE has networked with many other groups in solidarity with Haiti———-such as Guy Antoine-Windows on Haiti.com; Brian Concannon, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti; Mario Joseph, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux; Dr. Paul Farmer, Partners in Health; Sisters Patricia Dillon, Jackie Picard, and Vivian Paternaud (Religious of Jesus and Mary); Evel Fanfan, AUMOHD; Ninaj Raoul, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees; NYU School of Law Center for Human Rights and Global Justice; Dr. Adeeb Yousif, World Peace and Reconciliation; Fr Tom Hagan, Hands Together for Haiti; Theresa Patterson, Visitation Hospital Foundation, Ti Riviere de Nippes.
HSNNE has been generously supported by grants, including general support from the Colatto Foundation out of Hackensack, NJ. On three occasions, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Society has sent support for reforestation, potable water, and the construction after the 2010 earthquake of an earthquake resistant house—thereby training local rural tradesmen. In 2018, Maryknoll granted $10,000 to enable the progress of the Coady Haiti Movement.
In April, 2018, responding to certain public putdowns of Haiti and other third world nations, HSNNE co-sponsored with Lamp for Haiti a Day of Celebration of Haitian Culture with song, dance, typical Haitian foods, face painting and children’s fun activities at Caldwell University. Well over 100 enthusiastic participants joined in the celebration!