Dr. Tamara Lafague shows off her diploma at her graduation from medical school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Carroll residents helped fund her college and medical-school education through a partnership between St. John Paul II Catholic Parish in Carroll and a parish in Haiti. Lafague is now practicing medicine in Haiti.
Dr. Tamara Lafague shows off her diploma at her graduation from medical school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Carroll residents helped fund her college and medical-school education through a partnership between St. John Paul II Catholic Parish in Carroll and a parish in Haiti. Lafague is now practicing medicine in Haiti.

August 7, 2019

Dr. Tamara Lafague began practicing medicine in her home country this year — an accomplishment achieved by years of effort on her part, bolstered by support from residents of Carroll, Iowa.

The daughter of a parish nurse in Haiti, Lafague had wanted to be a doctor since she was a child — but because of the politics and poverty of her country, the dream had once seemed impossible.

“It’s something she couldn’t have done on her own,” said Tim Murphy, a deacon at St. John Paul II Catholic Parish in Carroll.

Lafague’s education is one of the endeavors supported by a decades-long partnership between St. John Paul II and Our Lady of Lourdes, a parish in Haiti. For 40 years, Carroll parishioners have financially supported Haiti parish, with periodic visits to Haiti to meet the people Carroll residents have partnered with and see projects that have been completed.

Part of that fundraising process is an annual garage sale, which St. John Paul II has held for more than 15 years to raise additional funds for residents in Haiti.

This year’s garage sale, being held Friday and Saturday at St. Lawrence Center, will include thousands of household items, including appliances, tools, sports equipment, decorations and more, but no clothing.

“It’s not a garage; it’s a gym,” Murphy said. “It’s packed full.”

Prices are set low, he said, and will reduce as the sale goes on.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, according to the World Bank. Murphy said he and others who have visited Haiti have heard about government corruption and other challenges that stymie residents — for instance, he said, it’s difficult to attend college in Haiti without a government connection or more money than most residents have.

Natural elements cause difficulties with harvests and daily life as well, between hurricanes and flooding and droughts, he added.

In the parish that Carroll supports, residents have died of starvation.

Those conditions spur on the support from Carroll, which Murphy said has been rewarding over the years.

In addition to helping Lafague complete medical school, recent funds sent to Haiti have helped with repairing the roof on Our Lady of Lourdes, which was damaged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and building Our Lady of Fatima, a new “satellite chapel” that is associated with the larger parish and allows more people to attend church, since many can’t travel far.

A bulk of the efforts supported by St. John Paul II donations have to do with education for Haiti residents, Murphy said. And although the garage sale only raises a small portion of the funds the parish sends to Haiti each year, it’s a visible effort that allows more of the community to be involved.

This year’s garage sale will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Friday and from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the St. Lawrence Center gym, located at 1519 N. West St.