By Rose Therese Nolta
The earthquake that devastated the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and surrounding areas in January 2010 killed more than 200,000 people, injured 300,000 and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses. Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere before the earthquake, is struggling to recover. The Missionary of the Holy Spirit Province in the USA and Caribbean tried to help in several ways. Julita Bau and three other Sisters from Epworth, Iowa went to St. Anthony Catholic Church in Dubuque to pack food for kids in Haiti. It was organized by the Kids Against Hunger – Iowa.
In their parish community in St. Kitts, Margaret Hansen and Graciela Castro, had an extra collection for Haiti which raised three times the amount of the normal Sunday collection, the St. Vincent DePaul Society held a bake sale and the children of the Kid’s Club made little “Hearts for Haiti” and sold them to raise money for the people of Haiti.
Dinah Marie Aguirre, a nurse by profession, volunteered with several organizations to be sent to Haiti, but has not been contacted as yet. As Julita wrote, “May the small things we offer help those in their great need in Haiti.”
Another way the Paraclete Province, USA, helped Haiti was through advocacy. Working with organizations like Jubilee USA Network, the Sisters wrote letters and sent e-mails to support Haiti’s debt cancellation and provide assistance for relief and reconstruction in the form of grants not loans. Through a conference call and a webcast with various organizations in Haiti, the JPIC Coordinator kept up to date with the situation and sent out updates and prayer services.
Help was given also through donations through organizations that were working on the frontlines in Haiti. Although the above is true, the main way that all the Sisters helped Haiti and her people was through prayers and petitions for Haiti. Special prayer services were held in some communities and the people of Haiti were remembered in prayer at Holy Hours in the Techny, Rogers Park and Memphis Community. Margaret Hansen said, “Obviously we have been keeping the People of Haiti in our thoughts and prayers each day.”