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Battling poverty in Port-Au-Prince

The risks are great, but so are the rewards. For over 100 years Canadian Christians have been building schools, healing the sick and feeding the hungry in developing countries. These missionaries honoured their faith by expressing the message of Christianity through humanitarian work. Despite local conflicts and cultural difficulties, missionaries in recent decades have served in the field with courage, humility and the desire to make a difference.

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For over three years, Canadian lay missionary and doctor Richard Arsenault has operated a clinic and a chapel to treat the medical and spiritual needs of Haiti's poorest people. But as the country experiences widespread political upheaval, Arsenault -- a supporter of deposed president Jean-Bertrand Aristide -- has had to take refuge from its military regime. "There were many times when I would have exchanged this cross for a machine gun," he tells CBC reporter David Halton.
• Jean-Bertrand Aristide had been president of Haiti from 1990 to 1991 when a military coup removed him from power. A military government ran the country until the fall of 1994, when U.S. troops invaded and reinstalled Aristide as president.
• Richard Arsenault was a target of the military regime because he treated people who had been wounded by its soldiers. He also offered shelter to victims of the regime.

• Haiti is a former French colony in the Caribbean Sea. Most of its citizens are descendents of slaves who were brought from Africa to work the sugar plantations. In 1804, after a slave revolt and a long struggle, Haiti declared its independence — the first black republic to do so.
• With an average per-capita yearly earning of under $500, Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. It also has the world's highest rate of HIV/AIDS outside of Africa.

• Haiti is located on the western portion of the island of Hispaniola. The Dominican Republic, a former Spanish colony, occupies the eastern side.
Medium: Television
Program: Sunday Report
Broadcast Date: Oct. 9, 1994
Guest(s): Richard Arsenault
Host: Wendy Mesley
Reporter: David Halton
Duration: 3:15

Last updated: November 13, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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