Haiti has been going through a politically driven humanitarian crisis since early September, when violent protests against the standing president brought the country to a standstill, as a way to force his resignation. Children cannot attend school, hospitals are closed, shops have no supplies, food is short, there are frequent electricity blackouts, propane gas distribution required for food preparation is halted, etc. In the past, Haiti has been struck by natural disasters, like earthquakes, epidemics and hurricanes; but this time the situation is totally caused by human lack of concern for the suffering of fellow humans.
We recently talked to Sr. Lila and Sr. Natalia, a Polish and a Spanish Daughters of Charity who are serving in the Marie Madeleine center, a clinic and day-care for the elder in the outskirts of Port au Prince, Haiti’s capital. Since all public hospitals are closed, they are receiving about 200 patients per day. Medicines are scarce, since distribution is blocked by what they call “the bandits”. Some of the older people they typically attend have stopped coming to the day-care; they fear they may have died since they are more vulnerable to hunger and illness. Since cars cannot circulate, the nuns sometimes risk their lives to attend sick people at home, crossing the burning barricades by foot. They also risk their lives to buy medicines when the clinic runs out of them. The days they don’t have electricity or gas, they still serve the sick and the elder that come to their center.
” If we can’t give them medicines, at least we make them feel someone cares about their pain. If we can’t feed them, we sing with them and pray together for the end of this disgrace.”
The nuns told us that none of the poor complain to God for this situation, on the other hand they thank God for giving them some relief through the nuns. In the eyes of the poor, the nuns and priests are God’s response to their prayers. What a beautiful role, and what a high responsibility for RES to support the religious in Haiti! Materially, sending bread, milk for children, propane gas to cook, money for medicines. But just as important, our RES “guardian angels” call the nuns/priests often, listen to how they are coping with the situation, let them know that out of Haiti someone cares about what is going on, tell them we are praying for them. In the front line of the fight against pure evil, God answers the prayers of his people by sending relief to the poor through his servants, nuns and priests, missionaries and locals, the only light that shines in the lives of the millions of persons surviving in the darkness of extreme misery. And RES is part of His works.