A Relationship Began on the Mountain Top in 1988: Crista Dawson Becker and Margarette Reunite After 23 years

One late afternoon, before evening prayer, Crista (14) and her mother, Diane Dawson, were walking along a red earth path through the Haitian countryside with a group of missioners from Wisconsin, including Bishop Roger White.  They came upon a very thin elderly woman leaning against a crude wooden hoe.

Crista_Marg1Next to the woman, stood a small girl dressed in rags.   After the group engaged the woman in pleasantries, Bishop White asked her what she needed most in life.  She placed one hand on her stomach and the other on the stomach of the little girl – they needed food.  Then, motioning toward the girl, she said she wanted her to be baptized and to get a school uniform so her granddaughter could attend the school on the mountain.  (At that time, baptism and money for a uniform were required for school attendance).  Roger said, “Well I can see to it that she gets baptized!”

Later, during the intercessions at Evening Prayer, the group sat in a circle outside Pere Lafontant’s home. Pere Lafontant was the Haitian priest in the village.  (Pere means Father)  During a moment of silence, Crista piped up and exclaimed, “Bishop can baptize Margarette (the name of the little girl), and Mom, we can pay for her uniform and whatever she needs to go to school.”  Thus, the sponsorship program was born.

The story was just beginning.  Margarette was baptized by Pere Lafontant and was sponsored by the Dawson family so she could attend school.  Her Grandmother died, leaving Margarette to live with her Uncle and his large family.  Margarette was assigned the hardest chores and often did not make it to school every day.

Crista and Margarette visiting after church

Crista and Margarette visiting after church

It took her a long time to get through school and graduate from St. Marc’s.  She was watched over by every priest assigned to the mountain, as well as the RN of the health clinic and, of course, the ever compassionate and intuitive, Eloi.  Eloi has been key to the administration of the school since its inception.  They made sure Margarette was fed, received clothing and shoes.  Through continued support from those who cared for her, Margarette was able to continue her education after graduation and was certified as a nurse.