Developing countries, communications, earthquakes — a Salesian contribution

From Rome Fr. Julian Fox:

In Haiti, there is yet another twist to the disaster which unfolded on January 12.  Under the rubble of the archbishop’s quarters (he died amid that rubble) lie the archdiocesan communications structures, all now destroyed:  Radio and Télé Soleil.

The station manager for Radio Soleil is Hubert Mesidor, a young Salesian brother (wrongly reported in some media as a Salesian priest).  As mentioned in the East Asia-Oceania blog on 1/16/10 (, I was with Hubert some months ago in Quito and jokingly called him a “delinquent” when, after my mentioning that through use of free software I had saved the Congregation thousands, he shot back immediately that so had he — with another kind of “free” software!!  Now he is welcome to any kind of software he can lay his hands on, as far as I am concerned.  I am just grateful that he is alive.  Radio Soleil has played a crucial role in Haiti, as witnessed by the fact that the Duvalier dictators closed it down several times.  “Baby Doc” went, in due course, while Radio Soleil survived.

Will Radio Soleil rise from the rubble?  Certainly.  It is estimated that some dozen crucial local radio stations were destroyed in the earthquake, but they have played and will need to be reconstructed to continue to play, a supportive role for Haiti’s suffering people.  And quite possibly Salesian communications enterprises around the world are among those who will help come to the rescue?  That’s a question, not a statement.  Audiovisuales Don Bosco, Quito, had already played a role in conjunction with Radio and Télé Soleil prior to the earthquake in raising awareness in Haiti; possibly they are looking at what they can do now.

A prominent Salesian friend also died in the earthquake.  Zilda Arns, founder of Pastoral da Criança in Brazil and champion of children’s rights, was on a brief mission in Haiti at the time of the earthquake and did not survive, as has been widely reported.  She was the opening speaker at the Chiang Mai SIGNIS Conference last year.  Her loss will be sorely felt worldwide.