Haiti Outreach Newsletter

God is Good

by Sister Eileen Coleman, IHM

     I have been reluctant to write an article about Haiti and the Little Sisters in recent months because we have almost been desensitized by the myriad portraits of pain and suffering throughout our very wounded world. Should I add another description and reminder of the constant fear of violence, kidnappings, poverty, injustice, corruption, political divisions, pollution of our planet, all of which exist in abundance in Haiti, to our already heavy hearts? But a reflection I read recently in Give Us This Day reminded me to look through a different lens, at a different portrait of Haiti and her people, one that I had personally experienced and that continues to inspire, the essence of what is the SOUL of the Haitian people.
     In the reflection, Carolyn Woo, the former CEO of Catholic Relief Services, recalls her visit to Haiti the first year in her new position.  It was right after the devastating earthquake and she described the numerous and almost insurmountable obstacles they faced because of the lack of or inadequacy of the infrastructure in such a poor country and the endless challenges they encountered. But in the midst of all the suffering and desperation she recalls reading “a message scrawled on the wooden frame of a family’s new home: God is good.”  And she reflected: “It was clear that God was in that humble home, bringing unspeakable joy.  God answered a prayer and enlisted us to fulfill it.”
    A recently deceased couple, who were loyal friends and faithful benefactors of the Little Sisters, left a very substantial monetary gift in their will for their congregation.  When I notified Sister Denise of their gift, her immediate response was: “God is so good!” and then exclaimed with so much joy and excitement how it was an answer to prayer and began to enumerate just some of their many needs that they could now address, including adding rooms to their infirmary for their elderly and very ill sisters.  I thought immediately of Carolyn Woo’s words as I associated them with the Little Sisters.  It was clear that God was, is in that humble community of women bringing unspeakable joy. And perhaps even more for each of us to reflect on—“God answered a prayer and enlisted US to fulfill it.”
     Donations for the life and mission of the Little Sisters of St. Therese in Haiti can be sent to the IHM Development Office, 2300 Adams Ave, Scranton, PA 18509. Note for "Haiti."


Greetings from Sister Denise psst

Sister Denise Desil is the 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 more than 25 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

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