Haiti Outreach Newsletter

Little Sister Survives Violent Kidnapping

February 2021

     The recent kidnapping of Sister Severe of the Little Sisters of St. Therese is a heart wrenching reminder of the ongoing as well as deteriorating economic and political situation that persists in Haiti. In fact, according to the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti, the country is facing one of its worst outbreaks of violence since 1986. The number of homicides, kidnappings, sexual assaults, and gang related deaths has risen dramatically in the last year. For more than two years, an unprecedented and uninterrupted socio-political crisis has raged in Haiti provoking periods of violent demonstrations, roadblocks, fuel shortages, economic paralysis, limited services, and high inflation rates. Unrest and the pandemic has kept 70 percent of Haitian children from classes throughout the school year.
     The government’s legitimacy is questioned, and incidences of corruption are rampant. Alleged complicity between politicians and gangs have contributed to a climate of insecurity. “Aba grangu”—meaning “enough with hunger”—is regularly chanted across the country by people trying to survive. On average, the cost for food has risen by nearly 30% since last year where more than half the population live in poverty and more one fifth live on less than $1.12 a day. The people are exhausted, frustrated, angry and desperate. So they resort to the only option they have, not unlike what has happened recently among people here in the United States… they take to the streets in protests, and yes, sometimes those protests turn violent.
In Sister Denise’s words: “Thank you for your comfort email... for your worry about us. It is so terrible. We are scared. The kidnapping increase now. We try for more security, but we need funds. So any penny help. Thank you for your prayers and economic support since many years. We appreciate your love and fidelity and solidarity. God bless you and He will reward you for everything. With gratitude and prayers.”
     So, friends, let’s break open those piggy banks. Send any amount to support the Little Sisters of St. Therese and their ministries. Send to IHM Development Office (indicate "Haiti"), 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, Pa 18509.

Greetings from Sister Denise psst

Sister Denise Desil is the newly elected General Reponsible for the Little Sisters of St. Therese, Riviere Froid, Haiti.  She a midwife and specialist in public health, maternal and child health and nutrition. Her letter was written before the devastation produced by Hurricane Irma when crops, beginning to grow after Hurricane Matthew, were destroyed.  For over 20 years the OSP and IHM Congregations have been providing assistance to the Little Sisters, have experienced their hospitality in Haiti and have welcomed their members at gatherings in the US.

Letter from Sister Denise, July 2017

SisterDeniseFirst of all, we thank you very much for all you have done to support the Little Sisters ministries in Haiti. It is a great pleasure for me to greet you from Haiti. We always think of your faith community with fondness and pray in thanksgiving for your generous spirit. 

We have been fortunate since last fall’s hurricane, that we have not had any new natural disasters. This is because we are still trying to recoup our losses from the earthquake and the hurricane Matthew. Our Congregation has been able to rebuild about 25% of the structures lost in the quake of 2010. In the hurricane last fall, Haiti lost about 1/3 of its agricultural production capability. The gardens have now been replanted and are producing, new animals have repopulated, and new fruit trees have been planted. Of course the latter will take years to regrow. When we pass the little merchant stalls in the roads, we see vegetables and ground fruits for sale now. We also see chicken for sale.  Unfortunately, during the six months after the hurricane, many people died from malnutrition and diseases that attacked their weakened bodies. Of course, many were washed out to sea in the initial flooding.

But you know The Little Sisters of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. We cannot quit. We were able to restart all of our programs within 6 months of the earthquake but one, using temporary conditions, that is, tarps, tents, trees, and so forth.  The same was true after the hurricane. 

We have so many poor Haitians counting on us to provide educational, health, agricultural, and spiritual education and help that we have little time to wring our hands and feel sorry for ourselves. We remember people like your wonderful faith community and receive strength from you.  Since we are an indigenous order, we have to depend on the generosity of wonderful people like you to help us toward our mission of helping the poor in Haiti. 

We rise every morning at 5 AM to keep stepping toward this mission.  You will find our sisters in our elementary, secondary, normal, and professional (trade) schools. You will see them helping the sick in our clinics and hospitals. You will see them working in the fields and educating the Haitians in proper agricultural techniques. You will see them tending to handicapped children, the elderly, and orphans. And always we try to meet the spiritual needs of all who come to us.

Maybe the light blue color of our habit was chosen to remind us that no matter how dark the skies, the blue will return with faith, help from others, and hard work.

Sister Denise Desil, psst General Responsible