Bridges, November 8, 2019

AU REVOIRE, PALOMA! – Jean Rabel, Haiti

Paloma Peňas, an Entreculturas and Foi et Joie volunteer here in Jean Rabel, over the last two years, has returned to Spain. Paloma, was a hit with young and old! She, a mid twenties lass, fitted into our community of older persons with patience, kindness and a willingness to share.

She is passionate about the care of the earth, not so much talking about it as living it. She attempted to avoid plastic at all costs. It pained her to see the beautiful beaches here in Northwest Haiti littered with all kinds of plastic rubbish, often washed up from other countries. Because of the lack of recycling facilities here, she packed batteries and empty plastic containers in her luggage home, urging us to do the same.

Having a Masters in International Cooperation, she put it to good use over the two years. As an education graduate Paloma gave invaluable training, support, practical help and friendship to the teachers in the 6 schools, always with a hands on approach. This involved days of preparation! Up to her final days here, she was still bringing educational materials to the schools and explaining how best to use them. Here Paloma is surrounded by the Directors of the various schools in Jean Rabel: Marieli (standing on left), Rosmitha, Lucina, Mausena, and Rosette, and in front: Bassy, Modena, Michel and Riguens.

She had a keen sensitivity to the more vulnerable persons, especially the children. Paloma gave time to those in need of additional help in Benito’s afternoon school, `Lékol St. Marie’. She also accompanied Mireuse, the teacher for those with learning difficulties, in Fond Ramadou.

Paloma (left) along with Bridget O.P. (right), help set up groups of volunteer pastoral agents in 7 areas around Jean Rabel. This Pastoral Timoun Piti program is especially for pregnant women and children from 0 to 6 years of age. She and Bridget visited families, invited volunteers and at times accompanied those in need of hospital care.

Palomaaaaa, Palomaaaaa, was the catch cry along the streets and roads as she walked, bringing smiles, laughter and joy to all she met along the way. It continues to be the cry as people ask for her.

We wish her every happiness and fulfillment in her new appointment with Entreculturas Madrid. Our loss is their gain! However we know she will continue to bring the Haitian issues to the discussion table wherever she goes.

Au revoir, Paloma! We miss you sorely, and you will always have a place in our hearts!

– Sr. Rose Kelly, RJM (far right in the bottom photo) and Sr. Bridget O’Driscoll, OP, (left) shown with Breda Sammon (2nd), Claudia Macha (3rd), Paloma (4th), and Sr. Nazareth Ybarra, RJM (seated)

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