[Province of the Caribbean, Haiti] Haiti is the small, western part of the second of the islands in the archipelago of the Greater Antilles and at the same time the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
The Haitians are very religious. They sing and dance beautifully during the liturgical celebration. They come to the church dressed in a festive way and pray with all their hearts to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, who is the Patron of Haiti, often repeating the invocation: “Mummy Mary never loses the fight.”
There are 5 communities of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul in Haiti. One of them is the Mission of the Mother of God of the Miraculous Medal where the Health Centre is located and Canteen for Poor Elderly People.
As part of the Christmas celebrations the Sisters from the Mission of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal organized Christmas gatherings for the Elderly poor people. On Friday, December 21, the Sisters organized a Christmas dinner for those who are in their care from the Canteen. That day everyone came dressed festive. For people who could not wash or dress at home, Sister Natalie responsible for the canteen, helped them to be washed and dressed with new, clean clothes. As usual, they sat on their white, comfortable plastic chairs in the yard in front of the cafeteria to sing, dance and play musical instruments, often made by themselves. Sister Natalie, through a short presentation and showing a large, beautiful painting depicting Christmas with the bows of the Shepherds and the Magi, introduced a festive atmosphere.
These poor people really deserve a special respect on our part. They often grow up in very difficult conditions, and now, in their old age instead of respect they face misery on a daily basis. Most often they have nothing, literally nothing, because in fact, there is no social service care here, neither a pension nor a life annuity. Neither home nor money nor family. Here, however, in the canteen of Saint Catherine Laboure, the Sisters have created a special refuge for them, where they feel safe and loved, where they can eat 2 meals a day, including one that is hot. Together with other people in the same situation as them, they can create a substitute for a real home, they can help each other, rejoice together, sing and dance. After entering the festive mood, everyone sat down at the table, where they could really eat as much as they wanted and at the end had a delicious cake with cream. For Haitians, Christmas is always associated with music and dance and good, hearty food. I must admit that they know how to celebrate!
Two days earlier they also had a meeting with Father Oblate from our parish church, who comes to them regularly, giving them catechesis. This time he introduced them to the theme of Christmas. A few of the elderly from the canteen are not believers, some are Protestants and many have previously adhered to the voodoo religion mixed with Christianity. Mutual kindness in the canteen and Sister Natalia’s good heart unites everyone and does not make any difference between them.
At the end of the meeting everyone received large food packages with good wishes of “Merry Christmas”!
Sr. Weronika Wagner, Haiti