Loretto Offers Generous Support to Haiti in Time of Need
By Barbara Wander
Loretto’s very generous donation of $10,000 to the Little Sisters of St. Therese of the Child Jesus has come at a time of real need. Although they did not receive a direct hit from the hurricanes, the glancing blows have yet again caused some deaths (both people and animals washed out to sea) and devastated their agriculture up north. The community was still trying to recover from the hurricane last October in southern and western Haiti when the new ones came. Of course, each time there is something like a tropical storm or hurricane, cholera rears its ugly head again.
We were so grateful for the response of the Loretto Earth Network to our appeal for funds to plant new fruit trees after Hurricane Matthew, and I didn’t want to request help again. Then came word that Loretto was once again willing to help Haiti. I sometimes fear that people will tire of Haiti’s hard times and get fed up, but the unsolicited donation proves to me that wonderful people and groups like Loretto will not forsake us.
The past 18 years, I have seen so many disasters in Haiti and have marveled at the sisters’ ability to continue on with their mission to help the poor there.
I also know that the worst is coming. My two trips since Hurricane Matthew last year have been alarming because of the many hungry people in the south where most of the agricultural damage was done. Now with the same being true of the north, I am bracing myself. When people are hungry and malnourished, they die more easily from disease. The floodwaters spread diseases that kill both people and animals.
I used to think that it would be like the United States where the elderly and infants would be the first to go, but I have seen many young mothers and fathers die of disease. I finally figured out that with so much of the population vulnerable, no one is exempt. These young parents often go without food to feed their children.
I have waited until I was able to make contact with the Little Sisters to write to you. (Communications are always pretty sketchy in Haiti but since the hurricanes all throughout the Caribbean it is far more difficult.)
First they wanted to make sure that you had enough money to give them this amount and still have enough to feed your older sisters and support your mission. I assured them that we were taking good care of our sisters and that Haiti was a part of our mission.
They have decided to use the funds to develop the farm they have been trying to start up north.
Much of the work we have done to start it was destroyed. So off we go again. We need to fence in the property to keep “robber” animals (mostly goats) from coming in and eating the crops. New compost is needed to replace the topsoil that was washed away. New fruit trees need to be planted to replace those that were blown away.
They know that they have to get the land in production as quickly as possible to provide nutrition. New animals need to be purchased to replace those that were washed away or died of disease. They feel that this is the wisest place to put the donation in the long run.
The entire island is in dire need of food now. One of their sisters has attended university in agriculture, so they have an expert among them.
Many people ask me how can I keep going to a place like Haiti where a disaster always seems to be around the corner. My stock answer is —“Well the Haitians don’t quit, so I can’t either.”
When I really step back and give this question some serious thought, it goes a bit deeper. The Little Sisters and many of the peasants have such strong faith. I don’t and will probably never possess that. So it is only with the unwavering support of Loretto and others that I can continue. The Little Sisters’ example pulls me along, and Loretto’s encouragement pushes me along. I am never alone when I am in Haiti.
Please know that the Little Sisters remember Loretto in their prayers daily.