The silent work of the Daughters of Charity in Haiti

[Province of del Caribe] A few days ago the web page: www.periodicolaperla.com published news about the work of the Daughters of Charity in Port-au-Prince. In the area of La Plaine, just outside Port-au-Prince, 5 sisters, 2 Spanish, one Haitian and one Polish, attend a medical and a day center for elderly people, which is the only help for many of their neighbors. In this neighborhood, like many others in the Haitian capital, where most houses do not have electricity or water, where the streets are not asphalted and there are mountains of garbage everywhere, breakfast and food provide by the sisters in the day center are the only food that some of these people receive.

“In Haiti, people really go hungry,” Valencian Natalia Martinez de Pablo, who at 72 years old is the eldest of the Sisters of this congregation in this country. She arrived 27 years ago, after being first in Switzerland and Thailand. “Here at least they eat and they get a little food for the evening because they have nothing. They are people who are totally abandoned, she laments. To illustrate the miserable conditions of life in which half of the 10 million Haitians live, the religious tell that a lady told her that she was so hungry that she ate all the pills that had been prescribed to calm her stomach. Their situation has worsened even more in recent weeks due to political and social tension by the violent manifestations against the Government.

Since February 7, Haiti has been the scene of violent protests on the second anniversary of the arrival to power of President Jovenel Moise, amid a severe economic crisis. This crisis was aggravated by a sharp depreciation of the gourde, the official currency, and galloping inflation. In these last weeks, “people did not have anything to eat because they could not go out and sell what little they had“, explains Sister Monica de Juan, from Madrid, the person responsible for the mission “La Milagrosa”. Fifty elderly people come to the center every day, some of them with psychiatric problems and about 300 people come daily to the clinic, in which 5 doctors work.

Although during these days these centers did not close their doors, everyone stayed indoors due to fear of barricades, looting and violent protests, which have caused at least 9 deaths. The Sisters affirm they are not afraid although they remember that a few years ago, the center suffered an assault and several sisters were beaten.

“They respect us. They know that in religious communities, especially women, we are for them. If we have something, it is for them, says Sister Monica, who has been in Haiti for 8 years.

Every 15 days, the Sisters, who also tend to medical emergencies on weekends, visit the sick at home. One of them, Ernst, 46 years old and a volunteer of the day center, fell and broke the femur in two parts last November. Due to roadblocks and manifestations, it took 15 days before Ernst could have surgery. The hospital to which he was transferred did not have the material for the operation. Now Ernst is recovering and, from time to time, leaves his tiny house built of tin with the perforated roof, to walk with the help of a walker through the dusty streets of his neighborhood.

Taken from www.famvin.org

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