to School in Haiti
This story was published by ANS on Oct. 8.
(ANS – Port-au-Prince) In the last week more than three million Haitian children have returned to their schools. They include more than 20,000 in the Salesian institutions, of whom more than 10,000 are given one meal a day – which may be their only meal – at the Little Schools of Father Bohnen. Haiti continues trying to recover, to become a better country.
Almost three years ago, it took just 45 seconds to destroy 90% of schools and 60% of hospitals, to kill thousands of people, to leave more than 350,000 people injured and more than one million children orphaned. "But in Haiti,” says Olga Regueira, collaborator of Salesian Spanish NGO Jovenes y Desarrollo, “there is a people full of strength and courage…. These have difficult years, but looking at the future, there’s now a little more hope.”
Various figures in the data offered by the World Bank seem to bear witness to the recovery. More than 14 million cubic yards of debris has been removed; it’s finally possible to move about on the streets. One million people have left the camps for displaced persons, and 600,000 people will soon have access to electricity.
The Salesian Missions office in Madrid has produced a 30-minute documentary, “The Awakening of Haiti,” which speaks of a people who on January 12, 2010, lost what little they had but who continue to struggle and improve day after day.
The history of Haiti is also that of the Salesian missionaries, who have lived and worked in the country for more than 75 years. The missionaries have always been on the side of those who had more need of help: the most vulnerable children, the women, the sick, etc. "Our dream is a better Haiti for young people able to take care of themselves, to ensure young people are in safety," says Fr. Sylvain Ducange, superior of the Salesians in Haiti.
There is still a lot of work to be done: half of the population lives on less than a dollar a day, 500,000 people are homeless, 90% of the children have water-related diseases, there is still a cholera epidemic – as well as the economic crisis that has reached even this country.
Once again Salesian Missions in Madrid has launched an appeal for solidarity, to ensure that the current international economic difficulties and lack of resources does not undermine Haiti's dream. The campaign “75 years in Haiti” was therefore launched, linked by an invitation to the international community to continue to work – because Haiti cannot be forgotten.
The Salesian work in Haiti may also be assisted thru Salesian Missions in New Rochelle: http://www.salesianmissions.org/