It all began in 1983 when St. Boniface Parish—the poorest parish in a working-class section of Quincy, Massachusetts—decided to participate in a Walk for Hunger. The parishioners decided to donate half of the money they raised to Mother Theresa’s newly opened Home for Children in Port-au-Prince. They were told their money would be graciously accepted under one condition: they hand-deliver it to Haiti themselves. Soon, the parishioners were off to Port-au-Prince.

early work crew at St. Boniface

Co-Founders Nannette Canniff and Father Jerry Osterman with volunteers on an early work trip to Fond des Blancs.

After the trip, the group, led by Father Jerry Osterman and parishioner Nannette Canniff, were committed to fundraising for Haiti. Soon, they found themselves in the remote village of Fond des Blancs, located high in the mountains on Haiti’s southern peninsula.

The group asked community members what they would do to improve their own livelihoods. The community said that they wanted to build and staff a health care clinic to care for people when they get sick. The group of Americans quickly raised the money they needed and began working alongside the people of Fond des Blancs to build and staff this new clinic, which had just one room.

By 1990, the organization recognized that the clinic needed to expand in order to meet the demand for care, and in 1992, the first iteration of St. Boniface Hospital was completed. That same year, St. Boniface Haiti Foundation was granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in the United States. Nannette Canniff was the organization’s first president. 

Old hospital building

The old entrance to St. Boniface Hospital.

Now, 40 years later, St. Boniface Hospital has grown into the largest health care provider and only tertiary care center in southern Haiti. With more than 200 beds and a suite of world-class facilities, the hospital provides life-saving and life-changing care to more than 150,000 patients each year.

In 2019, St. Boniface Haiti Foundation changed its name to Health Equity International/St. Boniface Hospital (HEI/SBH) to better reflect our dedication to providing high-quality care for all who need it. We are eager to deepen our impact as HEI/SBH and remain committed to serving our patients, especially the most vulnerable, from across Haiti.