Father Rick Frechette shares some of the great accomplishments of the work of Friends and NPH in Haiti, now 2 years after the devastating earthquake.
"Choose love rather than hate,
a smile rather than a frown,
Choose to build rather than to destroy,
to persevere rather than to quit,
Choose to praise rather than to tear down,
to heal rather than to wound,
Choose to give more than to take,
to respond rather than to delay,
Choose to bless rather than to curse,
to pray rather than to despair."
This time last year, I wrote about our beloved chapel, St. Philomena, which had stood through the destruction and shock of 2010. She was cracked and weakened, and held up by struts, inside and out, which looked like crutches. A church on crutches—a fitting image in a country where so many people were left limping, or limbless, or worse.
“Choose to build rather than to destroy”
During 2011, the chapel enjoyed an artistic renovation, and a beautiful painting of resurrection now covers the once broken stones of the back wall. The front wall was repaired and secured with additional support. Throughout 2011, we find ourselves to be guided by the spirit of Resurrection, as we rebuilt so much of what had fallen, and even more beyond that. Building up healthcare, education and outreach services, building up programs and people, such that of all our leaders are Haitian, many of them hailing from our original home and school, St. Helene. The post earthquake programs of 2010 have flourished and continued to grow to serve the marginalized and unfortunate, and give dignity to thousands.
“Choose to heal rather than to wound”
As we reflect on the second anniversary of the earthquake, which is also our 25th year in Haiti, we can see very clearly the fruit of our labor in all we have accomplished.
-The Fr. Wasson Angels of Light program for vulnerable and displaced children permanently cares for 180 children daily, while an additional 700 children from the community attend the onsite primary school.
-St. Helene in Kenscoff opened their doors to over 60 new children.
-A housing complex was built for our high school and university students.
-The new maternity program cared for and delivered 4,799 babies.
-Neonatalogy gave life to 640 premature and endangered babies.
-Our cancer center has served 140 children providing them a second chance in a country where cancer is s death sentence.
-Public health services reach 20,000 people still living in the deplorable condition of the tent cities.
-The Rehabilitation programs of St. Germaine and Kay Elaine assisted 1,500 adults and children.
-More than 1,600 jobs are provided with each person supporting a family of four.
“Choose to give more than to take”
-3,000 bags of rice weighing 25 kilograms each
-852,000 loaves of bread
-199,000 packages of pasta
-1,728 trucks of water
-thousands of burials, too many to count.
-thousands of cement blocks to make homes and cobblestone to build roads.
"Choose to love rather than to hate”
On this 25th anniversary of our programs in Haiti, it is important to remember our mission. Fr. Wasson built NPH on the gospel values of unconditional love and acceptance, and of indebtedness to the community. Work and responsibility continue to be cornerstones of the home.
“Choose to persevere rather than to quit”
In memory of Fr. Wasson, and his commitment to children, at a moment when the earthquake dead were being recounted under high publicity, I imagined the many children of Haiti asking to be counted as the living…
“We are God’s children
The fruit of the earth
destined for greatness
we’ll show you our worth
Count us in as the living
The eager, the bold
Count us in as true friends whose proud stories are told
Count us in as the grateful for life and for bread
count us in we beg you
count on us, it’s our promise
To view a slide show video of our work, click here.
Fr. Rick Frechette, CP