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Today Merger is known as “Nativity Village.”


Pink, blue, green and yellow concrete homes have replaced the sagging, dangerous mud and twig shacks. Jeanine lives in a new Food For The Poor house with her children, ages 5 to 13. Her new home has a solid, concrete floor, a sturdy roof and provides much joy to the Haitian mother. “Since the first day I was in the old house, I was praying to God to get me out of there. I never lost my faith. Thank God I am living very well now,” she said.


Operation Starfish® began just before Lent in


1998. Father Martin was walking his dog and had an idea – what if each family in the parish made a Lenten sacrifice that yielded a savings of 50 cents a day? The church could help the poor and experience the true meaning of Lent.


Parishioners agreed and a wicker basket was


placed at the back of the church. By Easter, the basket had received over $67,000. Father Martin and his parish used the money to build 27 houses in Haiti. Soon the program was named “Operation Starfish®


.”


The name was chosen to reflect the story of the man who walked the beach, tossing back one starfish at a time into the ocean to save them.


For 13 years,Father Martin and the church have


worked side-by-side with Food For The Poor to help transform deplorable living conditions in Haiti and provide hope to communities that would otherwise have none. Every year the parish participates in a Lenten collection. From their sacrificial giving, countless lives are being transformed in Haiti. In 2010, parishioners gave enough money to build 100 homes in its seventh village, “Nativity Village in Mazere” in Cap-Haitien.


“Food For The Poor has delivered aid and so much more to those who are desperate for help, and together we


make a difference,” said Father Martin. Church of the Nativity not only meets the needs of


poor families today, but is very dedicated to providing self-sustainable solutions to poverty. Some of these projects include schools, vocational centers, tilapia farming, animal husbandry and fishing villages.


Working together to make a difference started


with one dedicated priest’s vision of sacrificial giving and a legacy of love, that has helped to transform the lives of thousands of poor Haitians. f


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