LCS families. Top: Alberte (LCS ’07) & Woody (LCS’07), and Solmon Asma (LCS ‘00) and his family.  Bottom:  Robenson Petit-Frere (LCS ’07) and his family, Maryse (LCS ’06) & Polidor (LCS ’06) and their son, and Johny Azor (LCS ’05) and his family.

As you read below, keep the pictures above in mind. Keep this in mind too:  What makes me proudest about the positive impact LCS has in Haiti is that our graduates build FAMILIES —STRONG FAMILIES.  

I am often asked if I am related to Daniel "Pat" Moynihan.  Though there’s no relation, except in the way that all the Irish are related, I am complimented by the association.  While I do not share all of the great late senator’s opinions, I like the way Moynihan never shied away from stating what he believed, even shouting those things he believed most. I remember seeing a banner headline that appeared when he was the US ambassador to the UN. It read, "Give'm Hell, Pat!" There is no doubt that he was a passionate and dedicated public servant — a real statesman.  

The two things that I remember most of the many things that Moynihan would not be quiet about are his senate floor denouncement of late-term abortion and his courageous insistence on the importance of the nuclear family in fighting poverty. Moynihan was by no means politically pro-life; however, he did call partial birth abortion what it is: infanticide. He also paid a great price for being ahead of his time by proclaiming the correlation between the disintegration of the nuclear family and poverty. 

A recent article in the Economist on poverty in America reminded me of Moynihan's prescient candor on this last point. The entire article can be found here.  Here is the relevant paragraph:  

Then there is deteriorating family structure among the poor. In 1965 Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then working on Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty”, warned of the breakdown in family structure among black families. A quarter were headed by women, he wrote in “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action”, and nearly a quarter of black children were, in the language of the time, “illegitimate”. Today the unmarried birth rate for Americans averaged across all ethnicities is higher than that, at almost 41%. For white women who did not finish high school, that proportion rises to over 60%.

Everything I have observed on the ground about Haiti's current economic woes suggests that Moynihan was right not just about U.S. poverty, but poverty around the world. Though an exact number is unclear, it is possible that less than 20% of Haiti's children are part of what could be described as nuclear families.  Added to this difficult statistic is the deplorable institution of restavecs [severely impoverished children and youths being held as un-paid domestic servants in the homes of slightly less impoverished relatives]. There is no doubt that Haiti's advancement will be greatly aided by the increase in strong families.

Recently, we have been discussing this issue in both Religion and Economics classes.  Below are some comments from Volunteers Katie Guzik and Ed Drislane who teach these classes.

From Katie:

It can be all too easy to compartmentalize one’s faith. High school students in particular, I’ve found, tend to think of religion as just another class, separate and unrelated to economics, social studies or mathematics. LCS religion classes break down the imagined barriers between the spiritual, political and social realities of our students’ daily lives. Our current unit focuses on natural law, how something that is rationally good is just as much a part of God’s plan as the revelation of Christ. So the statistics on the relationship between poor family structure and poverty come as no surprise. They prove that God knew what He was doing when He established the sacrament of marriage. Or as Vanessa Gaston, a student in my senior class put it, “…marriage is not only a matter of religion. Its effects are also social and economic. If everyone respected marriage and family units, it would be easier to teach children to become better citizens and we would see improvement in our society and in our economy.

From Edward:

Over the last week, the Economics course has studied the advantages of a strong family unit and marriage. There is a positive correlation between quality of life and earnings and strong families in societies around the world. In the United States, for example, where the percentage of children born to single parents is increasing, decreases in economic mobility and poverty are becoming greater issues.  In Haiti, the disparity in the standard of living throughout the population is more drastic as the rate of single parents is greater than in the United States. These issues, with the support of related statistics, have been the main focus during the Philo class’s study of the advantages of marriage.  On the topic, Philo student, Jeff Benoit, expressed that "if we do not have a strong family foundation, our economy will suffer a lot.”

Again, I am very proud that by the grace of God and the formation provided through LCS, our students are creating a strong, positive culture of family in Haiti.