Easter Letter from Haiti
Sr. Lorraine Malo writes from Haiti where she has been since early February of this year, interpreting for doctors, helping in clothing distribution and supporting families in their losses.
Where can I start to tell you about the last few weeks? So much is happening every day at Sr. Damien’s Hospital in Petionville, Haiti, and at the Volunteer House. We are still crowded here with new teams arriving every day — engineers, medical groups, individuals wanting to help. There are usually three to a room with many still sleeping on the roof and in the halls. (I am now an expert in getting ready for the day in the pitch dark!) I am amazed at the generosity of all those who have come from every corner of the globe — young and not so young — to help out for a week, ten days, a month, and sometimes longer.
Father Rick Frechette CP is in the midst of setting up an obstetrical unit, which will become permanent here at the hospital. Several teams from Canada and Italy are involved in this project and we have already had several births — signs of hope amidst all the chaos.
I toured the downtown area two weeks ago on the back of a motorcycle. Five of us, including Father Rick, went on motorcycles with five Haitian drivers. I had seen the area when I first arrived.
I saw a little improvement but not much, as the streets are still full of rubble, broken cement, half collapsed buildings and huge piles of rocks where buildings once stood. I think it will take years to clear out the city. In the meantime, most of the population is still living wherever they can find a spot. The tent cities, a collection of sheets, cardboard, tarps, and blankets, are overwhelming and one cannot imagine how the people are surviving each day. And the rainy season has begun. Yet, despite all this, our employees at the hospital are at work every day. They are surely a faith-filled and courageous people.
I continue as an interpreter for foreign doctors and nursing staff — I sort and distribute donations — and I have had a bit more time to be with the children. They come to the little room that I am now using as a classroom in their wheelchairs or on crutches — some with huge bandages on their little bodies. There have been many head and eye injuries among the children as well as many lost limbs. It is amazing to see their mothers’ courage and fervent prayers.
The hospital is a little more 'normal' with fewer adult patients and looking more like a children's hospital, which is what it is supposed to be. Many children have now returned 'home' (read 'to the street' since very few have a home now) having been fitted with prosthesis. They return for physio each day. I toured the physio department, which has been set up in one of the huge containers that arrive daily loaded with life-saving supplies for the people.
I saw an Israeli physio team who were absolutely wonderful and so caring for the children. Michel is two and was learning to use his new prosthesis. The therapist made a game of it and he would chase the ball she threw a few feet ahead of him. Then he would suddenly throw his arms around her, squealing with delight when he was able to reach it. Junia, a twelve-year old, who lost her left leg was helping, rubber gloves and all, to do her own dressing. There was so much hope and joy in seeing the determination of these little ones. It was symbol of what Easter is about — new life, renewed hope, deep gratitude for the gift of life won at such a price! I am privileged to be a witness to this kind of courage.
I deliberately chose to stay in Haiti through Lent and for Easter. The Haitians people have surely lived on Calvary since Jan. 12 and I wanted to be in solidarity with them. I also wanted to be here for Easter — that feast of hope and redemption and great love!
Please continue to pray for Haiti. The devastation is quite unbelievable. There are so many needs and so little time… God bless each of you with love and peace. You will never know how grateful I am for your support and prayers.
With love and God's blessings,
Lorraine Malo CSJ