15th Anniversary Dinner for Haiti Ministry to be Held June 4th in Waukegan

Rev. Jean Franco Valdemar, left, and Rev. Arthur Gass, both of Waukegan, during a 2014 mission trip to Haiti, shown with the school bus Valdemar shipped to the Caribbean country. (Posted by BERNARD RAIBLEY, Community Contributor)
Rev. Jean Franco Valdemar, left, and Rev. Arthur Gass, both of Waukegan, during a 2014 mission trip to Haiti, shown with the school bus Valdemar shipped to the Caribbean country. (Posted by BERNARD RAIBLEY, Community Contributor)

The nonprofit Hope for American Haitian Youth and Elderly will hold a 15th anniversary fundraising dinner at 6 p.m. on June 4 at Shiloh Baptist Church, 800 S. Genesee St., Waukegan. Reservations are $50 per person. Donations of school and medical supplies and shoes are welcome.

HOHAYE founder Rev. Jean Franco Valdemar, a native of Haiti and resident of Waukegan, will return to the Caribbean country in June to celebrate the opening of a new missionary guest house built by the group and funded by contributors from congregations throughout Lake County and around the nation.

Valdemar earned notoriety in 2010 when on a mission trip, he landed in Haiti on Jan. 12, less than an hour before the country was hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. He spent the next two weeks helping in the rescue effort as the death toll reached 230,000. In 2012, he spent more than a year raising donations and supplies, packing them into a school bus that served as a shipping container and that after arriving in Haiti, transported children to school and church in Port au Prince.

“It’s been six years since the earthquake, but the country is still in a very difficult situation and in many cases, people’s lives are worse,” said Valdemar, pastor of Bethel Haitian Evangelical Church in Rogers Park and adjunct instructor at Judson College in Elgin.

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. Sixty percent of its people live on the equivalent of less than $2.42 per day, according to the World Bank, and more than 2.5 million live on less than $1.23 per day.

“Life is really tough,” said Valdemar, who estimates that 80 percent of the country’s 11 million people are unemployed. “I thank God, who has allowed me to be a hand up. And I thank God for the generosity of so many supporters who want to help the Haitian people.”

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SOURCE: Chicago Tribune – Bernard Raibley