2010-08-28 / People

Br. Jim Boynton Returns To Call Square Dance on Island; Shares Haiti Experience

By Rebecca Jaskot

Brother Jim Boynton, SJ was away from his missionary work in Haiti for a few days for a home visit and spent the night of Friday, August 20, on Mackinac Island, where he called a square dance at Ste. Anne's Catholic Church. It is something he used to do every Tuesday night for 12 years, but the church has not hosted one this year in his absence.

Br. Boynton has been away from Mackinac for a long time, and he said he has missed it.

“It's good to be home,” he said.

He has been aiding people in the area ravaged by the Haitian earthquake, and said he will serve two more years in missionary work there.

In November 2009, he was commissioned to serve refugees through a Jesuit school system in northern Haiti. Just eight days after becoming principal of a school in Ouanaminthe in January, the devastating earthquake struck the country, killing more than 150,000 and leaving countless others homeless.

“After the earthquake, it was incredible,” he said. “The human suffering was unbelievable, unlike anything I've ever seen, and I never want to see it again.”

Br. Boynton was immediately transferred to Port-au-Prince, where he worked with a group of doctors called Team Rubicon for a month and a half. Team Rubicon was comprised of a group of former soldiers and health care professionals.

Along with assisting medically, Br. Boynton has evaluated schools with a group of engineers. He and 15 Haitian students do masonry, cement, painting, framing, and structural repair and built pre-fabricated houses.

“It's not any better, unfortunately,” he said of conditions now. “There's still a lot of dam- age. It looks like a war zone downtown.”

Today, Br. Boynton remains in Part-au-Prince and works with a chain of schools called Foi et Joie, which means “faith and joy.” The program has about 25 schools around the city. Br. Boynton works in administration and is in charge of volunteers and international groups who come to help. Some of the schools are in refugee camps and outside the city.

He has his office in what used to be a banana field, and most of his students live in tents. He is also working on projects to restore clean water.

“What's been wonderful is the support of friends and people back home, people from Ste. Anne's,” he said. “I'm Facebook friends with a lot of people from Ste. Anne's and I get messages, and it helps a lot.”

He has now returned to Haiti, where he will spend at least two more years doing missionary work. Those who wish to support his work can go to IntSamaritan.org.

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