Success Stories

Clean Water Project


Thank you donors.  The water purification system has been installed as of July 22, 2016.  Clean water is available at three locations: the education/rectory building, the school and the church.  Father Islaire is very happy that potable water is now available throughout the education/rectory building.  A hand-washing and drinking station has been built at the school as part of the project.  People from the village will now be able to access clean water in the center of town, rather than walking hours to the nearest government provided source.  We are most grateful to Dr. Kevin Fussell and his organization, World Water Relief, for their commitment to this project, and to Kevin Kieffer, their engineer, for the installation.  Please offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the completion of this project and petitions for the education, utilization, and maintenance of components. As a result of the success of this project, we are beginning work on a second project to be located in the village of Metayer, a mountain community that experiences outbreaks of Cholera during the rainy season.  Cholera being a water-borne disease, can be significantly reduced with a source of clean, potable water.  We are planning to do a site assessment in the very near future and will begin construction as soon as we have sufficient funds available to complete the project.  Your help would be greatly appreciated in getting this project funded.

Clean Water Project 1

Two new 500 gallon water tanks on the rectory roof supply the rectory and the school with water. 


Washing Lessons

Students learning proper hand washing techniques at the school clean water station.

Clean Water Project 3

The water distribution station (during the construction phase) at street level, below St. Joseph church.


The recent hurricanes and earthquake of 2010 have left the infrastructure of the Cotes-de-Fer area of Haiti in desperate need of repair.  During the past two years we have helped rebuild 10 homes and supplied building materials to some of the 10 chapels and St. Joseph Church under the direction of Father Islaire Faustin.  In July of 2018 we provided the funds for a roof at the St. Lawrence Chapel.  Parishioners can now attend Mass and community events without the fear of inclement weather interfering with their activities. 

St. Lawrence Chapel St. Lawrence Chapel Roof St. Lawrence Chapel Entrance


Education Building/Rectory

We're delighted to report that the fundraising for the Education Building/Rectory has been completed.  Your generosity has enabled Father Jude to make this building the focal point of a compound at the top of the hill in Côtes-de-Fer.  The building itself contains multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, a huge kitchen eating area, chapel, sitting area inside and outside, and a storage area. 

If you're wondering what happened to the second story on this building, Father Jude explained that the configuration would be too dangerous in case of another earthquake and that it would be too hot.  Instead, he has developed the compound consisting of an outdoor kitchen; a cistern for the collection of water; a three-room school; a garden area and a raised, open-air, thatched roof rotunda that is quite comfortable for meetings when the gentle breezes blow off the ocean.  We have contributed to the construction of all of the outbuildings, except the school.

Annual Shipment of Goods

Patient Assessment

 Thank you! Your generosity helped us send over 1900 pounds of equipment and supplies this year for St. Joseph parish in Haiti. Men, women and children will enjoy ditty bags of personal care items, sun glasses, eye glasses and medicines.  Children will delight in new dresses and shorts hand-made by the Dorcas Group of the First Baptist Church of St. Simons Island, as well as donated uniforms from St. Francis Catholic school.  Adults will appreciate newly sewn aprons and utility bags from the Dorcas Group.  Contributions were also made by the Brunswick Chapter of The Links, Holy Nativity Church and the water aerobics class at The Club.  Father Islaire is grateful for these items which he uses as rewards for youth participation in the choir, liturgical dance and alter servers.  Our nurses will use the ditty bags during the upcoming medical mission trips.


Medical Mission Trips, 2015 - 2018

The focus on the second Helping Hugs medical mission was on women and children.  After last year's mission trip, we were better prepared since we knew that so many of their health issues stem from contaminated water.  The 2015 Medical mission team consisting of 2 MD's and 4 RN's, left on November 28th for Port au Prince.  Unfortunately, half of the luggage with medicines and supplies did not arrive for 3 days, stranding the team in Port au Prince until December 1st!  Once all luggage was retrieved the team set out for Cotes de Fer and our sister parish.  We hit the road running, arriving at 3 PM and began to see patients at 3:30.  Many of the patients walked a long distance to get there.  Rather than send them away, we kept seeing them until 10:30 that night with portable lanterns brought down to the little school we were using for the clinic.  Dr. Jean Georges Baptiste, Director of the Government Clinic in Cotes de Fer joined the team for the entire time we were there.  It was a real treat to work with him.  The collaboration was important since he will be the one to see the patients for follow up visits, especially those newly diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension.  There is such a great need for a clinic that turnout was exceptionally large.  Unlike last year when we ran out of many medicines, we ordered more and were able to accommodate most of the patients.  

The team traveled to two distant rural chapels in addition to the parish clinic.  One day was spent in Metayer and the next in Mayette.  The roads-or rather rocky paths just wide enough for a vehicle- are always a challenge for people as well as vehicles.  On the first rural clinic day, Fr. Islaire's truck blew a tire when we were halfway there (all of his tires are bald).  We piled into the second vehicle with our very special driver/interpreter Domond and went on, leaving Fr. Islaire and the other 3 interpreters to fix the vehicle or find a ride to meet us.  Fortunately they came riding up on motorcycles along with Dr. George, who brought up a tire from the village.  The Haitians are very resourceful!

Over the course of 4 days we saw almost 500 patients.  Dr. Shirley Wilson, an OBGYN physician was a real hit with the women!  So many of them suffer from infections from contaminated water in the river.  That is where they bathe, wash clothes and children, and get water for cooking and drinking.  Unfortunately there was a woman in one of the remote  chapels that we could not help.  She was pregnant, but had extremely high blood pressure.  There was simply no where to send her.  The nearest hospital is 5-6 hours away over rocky paths and not safe for her to travel.  Domond said it was best to leave her there.  People die in Haiti every day from things that here we take for granted.  Dr Wilson was also representing the Helping Hugs collaboration with the Brunswick, Georgia chapter of the LINKS, Inc.Translation

Dr. Shontae Buffington, an amazing pediatrician who came to Brunswick, GA less than 2 years ago from California "to make a difference ", saw so many children!  Even when we were packing up to leave for Port au Prince she was still holding babies and treating the moms as well.  One baby desperately needed a breathing treatment for asthma.  We had medicine, but no breathing machine, so Dr. Georges retrieved his from the clinic and the baby was successfully treated.  Successful collaboration!

Needless to say,  no clinic can succeed without its nurses.  Louise Johnston and Jeanne Hessling-the organizational energizer bunnies-ran the pharmacy and distribution of gifts while Sharron Olson and Diane Smith obtained histories, took vital signs and assigned patients to one of the 3 physicians. 

On the night before we left, Dr. Georges asked us to return every 6 months if we could!  Oh my!  He said that we saw more patients in 4 days than he could see in 4 months 

Yeah team!!

The medical team continues to visit this area of Haiti and completed it's most recent trip in February of 2017.  Watch a video of the 2017 trip. The fourth medical mission trip was completed in February of 2018.  Current efforts are being made to assure existing patients receive the life saving medications needed until our team can return next year.  We are grateful to the many volunteer doctors and nurses who volunteer their time to make these trips possible.  If you would like to be a part of these efforts, please let us know.

Helping Hugs Inc. Sends Children to School

Sponsored Students                 For the past 4 years, we were privileged to support children in the Côtes-de-Fer area of Haiti in attending school.  These are children who would not be able to attend school without your support.  During the first year, enough money was received to sponsor 40 children.  For the year 2013 - 2014, your donations resulted in 82 sponsorships.  

 For the school year (2014 - 2015) Father Jude Fils Aimé asked if we could help support 100 students.  Fr. Jude operates 3 schools: two are in the mountains and the third is in Côtes-de-Fer specifically for the street children.  Realizing the vast need and understanding the generosity of our community, the Education Manager for Helping Hugs, Inc. stretched the goal to 125 students.  Gratefully, we can report that enough money was received to send 138 students to the 3 schools.  The cost for an elementary student is approximately $50 per year

For the school year 2015 - 2016 our campaign ended on August 31st and the Education Manager has reported that enough contributions were received to support 163 children.   

For 2016 - 2017, we 223 underprivileged children were sent to one of the three schools in the area. 

The fund drive for the school year of 2017 - 2018 was just completed and your compassion and commitment to this wonderful project continues to grow as we are able to fund up to 285 students. 

Thank you for all the prayers, encouragement and support for the children of Haiti.  You are making a difference.  If you would like to work with this committee or have questions, please send an email to the Education Manager at   Sponsor a Child