CLEARWATER: Paris Morfopoulos, best-known to Downtown Clearwater visitors as the calm but cheerful owner of the One Stoppe Shoppe, just returned from a tour of Haiti as one of the Church of Scientology’s Volunteer Ministers.
A Volunteer Minister, as defined by L. Ron Hubbard, the Founder of Scientology, is “…a person who strictly on a volunteer basis helps out his fellow man by providing simple, basic counseling to people he meets to assist them in overcoming difficulties they may be having in life.” Volunteer Ministers are trained in basic Scientology techniques through the Scientology Handbook.
This is Paris’ second trip to the earthquake-damaged country, but he was hopeful by what he saw on this trip.
“I can tell you that there is a lot of enthusiasm and activity in helping to rebuild the country and to rebuild the shattered lives of the Haitian people,” he commented. “The physical infrastructure is still in a shambles and the rubble seems to be largely still where it was when I was last there in February. But many many people are pitching in and the work is going forward.”
Paris was impressed most with the spirit of the Haitian people, who despite living in make-shift tents – some as rudimentary as a bedsheet held up by four poles – greeted him and his fellow Volunteers with a friendly smile.
”We were welcomed everywhere and even spent over an hour with one of Haiti's most prominent lawyers - the one defending the Christian missionaries who were accused of kidnapping orphans. He was very grateful for our assistance since the earthquake. He told us ‘After the quake, there was no hope left in Haiti. But then the Volunteer Ministers came and there was hope!’”
In the last few months, since the earthquake, many thousands of people have been trained in basic Scientology techniques so that they can assist their fellow Haitians. Between 250,000 and 300,000 people have been helped through the Volunteer Minister program.
“We still have Russian Volunteer Ministers actively helping at the General Hospital every day,” said Paris. He also met Volunteer Ministers from Hungary, Mexico, France and of course the USA.
While in Haiti, Paris also visited the Future of Haiti Orphanage, which is providing a safe environment, a stable home and a good education to 150 children that would otherwise still be roaming the streets of Port au Prince after their previous orphanages collapsed in the quake.
“I visited with Michela Schneider – the Director of the orphanage - and the children,” said Paris. “I was very touched by their friendliness and affection. I brought a backpack full of gifts for one child, a beautiful ten-year-old girl with the very appropriate name "Lovely". It made her very very happy and she wrote a very touching letter that I brought back with me to give to her sponsor, Ericka Miranda.”
Paris encourages people to find out more about the orphanage at www.thefutureofhaiti.org
As a closing note, Paris wanted readers to know that, though the news agencies have left Haiti, and Haiti has disappeared from the evening news, there is still much to be done in that country.
“If you would like to help, either financially or by going there and giving these people a hand, contact the Volunteer Ministers at email@example.com and let them know. They will help you get there. It is tough and there is much that is unpleasant to confront, but it is truly rewarding and you will fall in love with the people of Haiti.