By: Sisters Mary Ellen Gondeck and Sue Torgersen
Editor's Note: This update is from the Haiti Project within the U.S. Federation, a project the Federation has supported since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. To learn more about the project, click here
The news these days from Haiti cries to heaven for our prayers. Following the earthquake on August 14th, we are happy to let you know that we have received good news from Sr. Alta of the Companions of Jesus in Haiti. The earthquake did not physically imperil the areas of Leogane and Port-au-Prince, so our students, their families, teachers, and the Sisters are safe. The epicenter of the earthquake was about 80 miles west of Port-au-Prince and 60 miles west of Leogane, where Annunciation School, College Coeur de Marie, Bethleem Farm, and the Village of Jesus (home for aged women) are located. The Companions of Jesus and Mission Haiti, Inc. share in a partnership for the benefit of the people of Haiti. Over the years the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph has provided support for the work of Mission Haiti and the Companions of Jesus, particularly through the project involving the education of 10 Haitian girls.
On August 13, the day before the earthquake took place in Haiti, we received a document from Sr. Alta in which she described the extreme challenges faced by the people of Haiti. These challenges have taken an unimaginable toll on the psychological and mental well-being of the Haitian people. The multiple experiences of trauma upon trauma – the impact of the 2010 earthquake, continuous political unrest, relentless gang violence, frequent kidnappings, chronic food insecurity, the unavailability of clean water, the frequency of destructive storms, the recent assassination of President Jovenel Moise, plus the ongoing COVID pandemic – all weigh quite heavily on the Haitian people. Sr. Alta described all this to us on the eve of the August 14 earthquake which would add yet another devastation to life in Haiti the very next day.
Gangs wreak havoc in Haitian life and they present obstacles to the transport of relief supplies to towns such as Les Cayes and Jeremie where the greatest amount of destruction from the August 14 earthquake has taken place. Sr. Alta herself has not been able to make the trip from Port-au-Prince to Leogane since May 30, simply because the travel is too risky.
We will share more news with you as it becomes available. Thank you for your continuing prayers and concern for all of Haiti with special attention to the 10 girls whose education is sponsored by our Federation, their families, and their teachers. In terms of donations, Mission Haiti is recommending that people consider donating to Catholic Relief Services, Hands Together, and the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti. These organizations have very fine reputations do excellent work. They are conducting direct response and providing relief in the places where the earthquake caused the most damage and loss of life.