Jesuit Voices from Haiti

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Two days after the powerful earthquake brought more devastation to the island of Haiti, eyewitness accounts from aid workers, Jesuits and others in the country are being shared.

…  just a quick note to let people know things are OK (here in Ounimanthe). Five minutes before the earthquake I was out on the street playing the fiddle for a group of kids that came and asked “if I could come out and play?”  I was in the house when the quake began and I ran outside when it happened. The aftershocks kept coming even into the evening. The power is out and we are currently getting power from the generator.

The capital, on the other side of the country, was hit hard. We have had no communication from the Jesuits in the capital because phones and cell phones are not working. I expect that the Fe y Alegria School, near the epicenter, probably was hit hard.

- Jesuit Brother Jim Boynton
January 13, 2010

The worst news I received is the death of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot – an important man for the Church in Haiti.  I wrote to … (a colleague at) Radio Soleil, but didn’t get a response. … He must be very affected by the death of his bishop. I don’t know what to say.

- Jesuit Fr. Pierre Bélanger
Coordonnateur international – Réseau Étoile – Haïti
January 13, 2010

The situation is very serious.

Even though the Ouanaminthe and the Northeast area have not been greatly affected we still feel the aftershocks here. There are thousands of dead bodies currently on the streets of Port-au-Prince. More than 60 percent of the houses have collapsed in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. The National Palace, the main building offices of the State, schools and institutions that belong to the Catholic Church no longer exist. Residences of religious, the roof of the Cathedral of Port-au-Prince, the Archbishop’s house etc.; all have collapsed. The body of the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince was found under the rubble.

Supermarkets, banks, trade houses, radio and television stations, hospitals … all have collapsed. The administrator of the General Hospital, the largest health institution in the capital, said it collapsed with many patients already inside and while many wounded were being brought in. People spent the night in the streets and in the open for fear of new collapses following the earthquake. Throughout the night and even this morning  there have been many aftershocks.

This morning: UN headquarters in Bourdon collapsed and left 11 dead; among whom are eight Brazilians and three Chinese. A population of 2.5 million in the city of Port-au-Prince is in the state of shock. It will be days before they can get an exact death toll; already there are thousands counted dead.

- Jesuit Father Perard C. Monestime
January 13, 2010


A Port-au-Prince neighborhood is a mass of ruined homes and lives after an earthquake devastated
much of Haiti, January 12, 2009. (UN photo by Logan Abassi)

We are in Canape Vert with Jesuit Fr. Kawas (the Jesuit Superior for Haiti). We visited the Jesuit novitiate in Tabare and later CRS in Delma. The latter is prepared to receive our assistance (water, ready to eat canned food, medicines, hygiene kits, tents). They will receive it in their stores of distribution.

We have not yet reached the most affected parts of the country and yet what we’ve seen already is disastrous. Many are dead, many have been placed in mass graves. Many others are still under the rubble. After coordinating actions with Kawas we are continuing to the center Port-au-Prince, then on to Carrefour and Cite Soleil. Fr. Kawas tells us these places are those that were most affected by the earthquake.

What is clear is that machinery to rescue people under rubble are not seen. We have seen many people in small camps, covered with sheets. Tents are needed urgently.

Most of all it is water that is needed now…. A water unit has been brought from the Dominican border for that purpose. Portable toilets will certainly be needed. The hospitals are crowded out of medicine and short of staff. Luckily it’s not raining, we pray to God no rain falls ….

- Mario Serrano, Director of JRS – Dominican Republic, who is leading a team into the earthquake devastated areas of Haiti.
January 14, 2010

National Jesuit News is urging people to give to the Jesuit organization Jesuit Refugee Service to help those in Haiti.

To support JRS/USA’s humanitarian response to the emergency needs of the Haitian people, please click here to be directed to their secure website and choose “Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund.”

Or you may send a check to:

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
1016 16th Street NW Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036

Checks should be made payable to “Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.”
Please clearly note “Haiti Earthquake Relief” in the memo field on the check.

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