By Tanya Connor | The Catholic Free Press
Members of the Worcester Diocese reported this week that they have collected more than $200,000 for hurricane relief in Haiti. Among donations was a surprise one from prisoners.
The Worcester Diocese sent $75,000 to the Les Cayes Diocese, with which it has a twinning relationship, and has $44,202 more to send, said Carol Adams, the diocesan director of fiscal affairs. She said most of the parishes have sent in money from special collections Bishop McManus requested.
Sister Marie-Judith Dupuy, the Sister of St. Anne who directs the diocesan Haitian Apostolate, said she deposited that money in a bank in Haiti. She traveled to Haiti Nov. 9-16. While there she showed Cardinal Chibly Langlois, bishop of Les Cayes, the bank book and gave him a letter from Bishop McManus.
“He was very, very happy and he said he is going to send a letter of gratitude to Bishop McManus,” she said. Cardinal Langlois asked her to thank the people of the Worcester Diocese and tell them God will bless them. His diocese needs much help, he told her.
She called the devastation unbelievable; Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti Oct. 4, destroying churches, schools, homes, gardens and fruit trees.
Sister Marie-Judith expressed great gratitude for people who sponsor students in the Haitian Apostolate’s education program, who donated $15,000 for the latest relief efforts.
She said she used some of that while in Haiti, hiring police for protection, packing 3,000 bags of food and giving it to students in the program and others. She also gave the students backpacks their sponsors sent this summer and had hospital personnel give them cholera-prevention drops, she said.
“My mission is not over yet,” she said. Her helpers in Haiti need to distribute gifts from St. Columba Parish’s Haitian Sewing Ministry in Paxton, and she plans to return Dec. 16 for the annual Christmas parties. She’s also seeking money to help people grow more food.
Forward In Health
Among others responding to the needs were about 100 prisoners at MCI-Norfolk, including some Haitians, according to Dr. John Mulqueen, a pediatrician from Annunciation Parish in Gardner. He said he met about 75 of them Nov. 7 when he went to the prison to receive the $1,300 they contributed to Forward in Health, which he and his wife, Paula, a registered nurse, founded.
Hurricane Matthew damaged Forward in Health’s Klinic Fonfred, in Fonfred, Haiti, and some of its supplies. Since the hurricane, the clinic is treating patients for free, instead of charging the usual minimal fees, Dr. Mulqueen said.
From their own poverty the prisoners contributed to people they thought were worse off, Dr. Mulqueen said, likening this to the biblical story of the widow’s mite.
“The recurring theme I kept hearing: ‘People think we are bad people, but we have a heart,’” Dr. Mulqueen said of sentiments the prisoners expressed. “They’re people too.” And they’re disturbed by others’ belief that the right thing to do is lock them up and throw away the key, as if they have nothing to contribute.
“Typically we see 30 to 40 people a day,” he said of the clinic’s work. “Since the hurricane we’re stopping at 120 people a day,” since that’s all the Haitian staff can handle. They stay late and work on their days off. And they’re still fixing their own hurricane-ravaged homes.
Forward in Health takes Americans on week-long trips to set up mobile clinics in areas near the clinic, Mrs. Mulqueen said. On an Oct. 31-Nov. 7 trip, the travelers helped at the clinic and sent area hurricane victims to the clinic.
Pilgrimage cut short
for Pwoje Espwa helpers
Deacon Peter Faford, who serves at St. Joseph Parish in Charlton, and his wife, Linda, left a pilgrimage in Canada to help in Haiti.
“When we heard the storm was coming, we called Project Espwa” and told staff how to prepare for it, Deacon Faford said. The Fafords have long served Pwoje Espwa Sud, (Project Hope South), an orphanage near Les Cayes.
He said he and his wife had just started a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Anne de Beaupré in Quebec when Frank Irr, executive director of Free the Kids, asked if they could go to Haiti. Free the Kids raises money for Espwa, which was badly damaged by the hurricane.
They cut their pilgrimage short and went to Espwa from mid- to late-October, Deacon Faford said.
The Haitian electrical company expects it will take at least six months to restore Espwa’s power, he said. He and older orphans righted the poles and ran new wires so they can get electricity via their diesel generator.
He also helped repair buildings and get wells working and his wife helped clean the guest house, he said. And until they had a priest to celebrate Mass, he led Communion services.
Deacon Faford said they were planning to stay until Dec. 21, but weren’t needed anymore; the parts needed for him to fix the internet hadn’t come in. They left so they wouldn’t be consuming food the Haitians might need. He told them to call if they need him. While he’s not doing fundraising, some friends, family members and St. Joseph’s parishioners gave him money, which he sent to Free the Kids, he said.
Be Like Brit collects thousands
of dollars and pounds
Be Like Brit received $100,000 in monetary donations and 16,000 pounds of food, water and hygiene items which filled a shipping container the organization set up at its Worcester headquarters, said Meghan Foley, marketing coordinator. The container is ready to be sent for hurricane victims, she said.
The Be Like Brit orphanage in Grand Goave, built by Len and Cherylann Gengel of St. John Parish in Worcester, was not badly damaged by the hurricane, but neighbors suffered damage. The Gengels built the orphanage in memory of their daughter, Brittany, who was killed in the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Ms. Foley said Be Like Brit has taken three trips to Haiti since Hurricane Matthew. Oct. 23-30 an already-scheduled “Britsionary” trip was made. The Nov. 2-5 and Nov. 5-8 trips were for hurricane relief. Each group built a house for hurricane victims, and the first group also worked at the orphanage and distributed supplies they brought. The next group is to go Nov. 30-Dec. 3 to build a house for hurricane victims and take more supplies, Ms. Foley said. Be Like Brit is continuing to collect money, food and hygiene items for travelers to take in their luggage, she said.