Coming Together for Haiti

International Assistance

News reports for several days have told of refugees leaving Port-au-Prince for other parts of the country. Many, they say, have headed to Les Cayes, miles to the west of the capital on the southern coast. There is a Salesian school and a youth center there with three confreres. An influx of refugees is likely to have an impact on that presence.

300,000 water purification tablets dropped off by two German men, one of whom was once told "Always remember Don Bosco." This was his and his partner’s first stop on their way into Haiti from the airport. Each tablet can purify 10 liters of water in thirty minutes.

ANS noted on January 23 that initiatives in Salesian centers around the world continue to multiply, as they respond to the Rector Major’s urgent appeal for Haiti. They are making pupils, young people, and their families aware of and getting them involved in the emergency situation created by the earthquake in Haiti.

As Fr. Chavez noted in his appeal letter, even provinces from the Third World are responding. From the East Asia-Oceania Region of the Congregation come these instances: Papua New Guinea/Solomon Islands, Vietnam, and Indonesia-Timor. In the Australia-Pacific Province (not in the Third World, at least not most of it), the provincial council decided on a monetary target, an amount it has pledged as a minimum, but asked the houses to send in what they can toward that target. If those amounts don’t reach the overall target, the province will top it up. If the amounts reach the target or exceed it, the province will add to it anyway! Fr. Frank Moloney, the provincial, has written to his confreres indicating that this item must feature in the communities’ Lenten penance.

Individual Salesian Losses

Some of our Haitian confreres have written letters to Salesian friends about their distressed situation, sometimes in struggling English but all the more heartfelt for that. Here’s one sample, written to the other side of the world:

In my family my little brother slept under his office where he is working, thanks God he is alive with some pein, and we hope that everything will be fine soon; in my school some of my pupils are dead…, it’s a terrific moment for us. Now we are just strugguling to live day after day. Please i beg you all to keep us in your prayer because we do need that more than ever. Now in our country most of the catholic Churches in the capital are destroyed and our archibishop and his general vicar are dead in the capital, a lot of religious are dead…. In the capital maybe we still at the most 3 or 4 churches. A lot of students passed away because it was a time for the Universities to work…. it’s terrific. Please help us by your prayer to the good Lord. Take care and God bless.

Haitian-American confreres Bro. Wilgintz Polynice and Bro. Dieunel Victor, both in the formation community of Orange, N.J., have lost relatives in Port-au-Prince. Bro. Wilgintz lost two, and Bro. Dieunel one; while they regret this, both are grateful that there weren’t many more deaths in their large extended families. The families had extensive property damage as well.

The Salesian archbishop of Cap-Haitien, Abp. Louis Kebreau, lost his sister in the earthquake. She belonged to the Daughters of Mary. Fifteen other consecrated sisters died also.

Fr. Mark Hyde in Port-au-Prince

Fr. Mark reports that communications continue to be a challenge: language barriers, mobility of coordinators required for field coordination, etc. Three more satellite phones are needed for Fr. Zucchi Olibrice, Fr. Ducange Sylvain, and the FMA treasurer in Haiti. Salesian Missions will act upon this need.

On Monday afternoon Hendrix Pinedo from the Sal
esian Missions Office will fly to Santo Domingo to provide communication support and the advice on financial management and reporting requirements. He and Fr. Mark will remain on Hispaniola—in either the D.R. or Haiti—until Friday afternoon.