Director Paul Haggis Honored by the Passionists
Screenwriter, producer, and director Paul Haggis was honored by the Passionists for his work on higher education in Haiti. The award was presented by Fr. Rick Frechette, C.P. and Fr. Robert Joerger, C.P.
Please join us in congratulating Fr. Rick Frechette and the Haitian team for winning the $1 million dollar Opus Prize. The Opus Prize acknowledges individuals and their organizations that are largely unsung yet provide exceptional and unique responses to difficult social problems in the world’s poorest communities.
The $1 million humanitarian award, one of the world’s largest faith-based awards for social innovation, was presented to Fr. Rick at St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, Minn.
"It’s like manna from heaven," Fr. Rick said. "It will fill in for the decline in fundraising, which is down because of the financial crisis in so many countries. This will help us to keep our programs going."
As regional director of the non-profit Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos, Caribbean, Fr. Rick Frechette oversees a network of child care facilities that includes an orphanage, a pediatric hospital and several community outreach posts. He also runs the St. Luke Foundation, which provides 450 jobs, outreach and health care to more than 120,000 patients each year.
Fr. Rick said he expects the bulk of the prize to go toward keeping the St. Luke Hospital running smoothly.
Andrea Bocelli invited Fr. Rick Frechette and some of the children he cares for in Haiti to his home for an afternoon of music and laughter.
In a weekend broadcast on Viewpoint, KTVB’s weekly public affairs program in Boise Idaho, Fr. Rick Frechette talks about the progress Haiti has had since the 2010 earthquake (Part I). Scroll down for Part II.
Viewpoint, Part II.
Fr. Rick Frechette speaks about the rebuiliding efforts and continuing challenges in Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and the decline in charitable gifts to Haiti.
Recently, Passionist Fr. Hugo Esparza-Perez was invited to visit Fr. Rick Frechette and see first-hand the recovery efforts in Haiti. Fr. Hugo invites us to share in his experience:
My Visit to Haiti: Glimpses of the Reign of God
Fr. Hugo Esparza-Perez
I went into Haiti afraid of what was awaiting me once my plane landed. I had watched and read recent reports on the situation in the country. They did not give me too much relief. I was nervous that I was going to see more misery than I could handle. I thought I would come back upset at the country’s situation and, primarily, frustrated because I couldn’t do anything practical for these people. As I landed in Port Au Prince and as we toured some of the neighborhoods around the St. Damian’s Hospital, death and hunger were visible. Yes, the hectic life people live in the tent cities is overwhelming. The state of these places does confirm the news reports of criminal activity, rape and the devastating ineptitude of NGO’s, who are hoarding millions of dollars and who have brought cholera into the country. As we drove through downtown Port Au Prince, it dawned on me that almost three years after the earthquake and over 500 years of colonialism by the Spanish, the French and the United States, the two great symbols of both religious and political power were crushed but one thing still remained standing, the people. After ten days in Haiti, I came back to Mexico wondering how I might be able to learn the unwavering hope and conviction for life of the Haitian People.
"…symbols of both religious and political power were crushed but one thing still remained standing, the people."
While preparing a short reflection for Sunday’s Mass at St. Damian’s Chapel, the Gospel spoke to me in very unexpected ways. Mark the Evangelist puts a question on in Jesus’ lips that began to permeate my thoughts all throughout the week and during my stay in Haiti. Jesus asked a rhetorical question to his disciples about the Reign of God, "[t]o what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it (Ch. 4:30)?". Immediately, Jesus compared the Reign of God to a mustard seed that will spring up into the largest plant capable of shelter and shade for the birds of the sky.
"To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it (Ch. 4:30)?"
Jesus cracked open the audacity of the Reign of God with this parable. More so than contradicting nature itself-for mustard seeds were not known to be the smallest in First Century Palestine nor their shrub to become the largest of plants-, this parable was to expand the imagination and, therefore, the values of those listening. The smallest of seeds becomes the greatest of plants. Certainly, to the listeners, this comparison had at best humor and at worst a deep contradiction. Certainly, Jesus was not trying to introduce a new type of genetically modified seeds. Rather, Jesus was trying to convey the inner workings of God. God’s Salvific Works would begin in the least expected ways and with and among the least expected. The unusual, the unconventional, the atypical, the queer will be capable of making God’s Grace visible in such way that they will be able to provide shade and shelter even for birds of the sky. Jesus question to the disciples was in my thoughts continually during my stay in Haiti, so I tried to let Haiti speak to me of the Reign of God. Haiti spoke to me loud and clear.
"Jesus cracked open the audacity of the Reign of God…"
The Reign of God is like an elderly Haitian woman, who lives in a tent city where she takes care of her orphaned five year-old grand-daughter. They walk together for more than a few miles to get to the hospital where their chronic wounds from malnutrition and diabetes are treated every three days. As they walk back after a long wait at the clinic, grandma wonders if they will be able to find an eggplant that she can boil for supper that night. Under the hot sun, the dusty roads and the puddles from last night’s rain, grandma transforms their route into a classroom. This is how the child learns new words and the name of places in both French and Creole. Grandma is convinced that this will help her to enter school. Her grand-daughter already knows how to greet people in English, Spanish and Italian. She learned these phrases from the doctors and nurses that have tended her wounds, and she is not afraid to use her ability as she encounters foreigners. This makes grandma really proud, so she knows that no matter how much her chronic diabetic wounds on her feet may hurt she needs to keep finding a way to bring her granddaughter every three days to the clinic. She knows that her granddaughter will grow strong and will go to school and flourish and become a doctor, a teacher or the president. She will bring healing and resiliency to Haiti.
"… If in the face of death people can still dream and hope rather than despair, they have overcome death and have encountered life to the fullest…"
To what else can we compare the Reign of God? The Reign of God is like the young people left as orphans who are now nurses, doctors, teachers, translators, struggling workers, community leaders, mothers and fathers. The Reign of God is like the Haitians, young and old, who do not want to get a visa and flee because they want to stay and "fix Haiti". The Reign of God is like a legally blind nine year-old orphan, who runs freely like the rest of the children because he is not afraid to fall or bump into someone or something because he has his brothers and sisters who will pick him up and guide him when necessary. If in the face of death people can still dream and hope rather than despair, they have overcome death and have encountered life to the fullest. These are the glimpses that I witnessed of God’s Life sprouting in the people of the Haiti.
It is with this unwavering hope and conviction for life of the Haitian People that I would like to start my ministry here in Mexico. I was informed a few days after I came back from Haiti that I was being assigned to our Parish in Tumbalá, Chiapas. I ask for your prayers as I make may way there in July.
Fr. Rick Frechette recieves the Taormina FilmFest Humanitarian Award.
Actor Sean Penn salutes Fr. Rick Frechette’s 25 years of humanitarian work in Haiti.
St. Vincent College Commencement, Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
Fr. Rick Frechette, CP, received the Doctor of Humane Letters from St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. In his speech, Fr. Rick congratulates the graduates on the completion of their college careers and encourages them live their faith with the humanity that lives deep within us, to "bring light to a dark world."
The Beginning of the Resurrection -
A Message from Fr. Rick Frechette
The time draws near, when Christ will be raised from the dead!
Great flashes of light, resounding trumpets, celestial music ringing through the plains and off the mountains - the chains of death are broken, in the twinkling of an eye.
Song, poetry and art from across the ages and the continents have offered magnificent portrayals of this jubilant moment, to quicken those of us who are still "mourning and weeping in this valley of tears"
I remember once seeing a moving painting of an angel struggling to pull a pale and lifeless Christ upwards from the tomb. I have seen this image lived out in many a mother struggling to pull her dying child away from the nearness of death, and sadder still, in the mother who hopes against all hope that a last, vigorous embrace will restore her already lifeless child to her now barren heart.
The angel in this painting is revealing a mystery, showing us something like "the beginning" of the resurrection. It shows angelic work being done in the dark time, right in between redemption and glory. This great work of God in darkness gives rise to the light of wisdom and the brightness of eternity. Like the way that coal, under enormous pressure over time, becomes a diamond.
The angel in the painting speaks of other slower, humbler resurrections, from within the heart of darkness.
The forty-year resurrection of the people of Israel was a desert transformation that brought them from obscurity as slaves to architects of a civilized nation, founded upon a moral code, born of communion with the One True God.
The scripture tells us that Moses, their leader and father, died just short of the fulfillment of this long quest. At 120 years old, in sight of the Promised Land, he died in his full mind, and with all of his teeth!
Since so many people far short of 120 years have already lost a good measure of both mind and teeth, it is curious that this detail about Moses’ death became part of Revealed Word.
You can argue that if one has full mind but no teeth, the words spoken through collapsed and floppy lips would not easily convince someone that a full mind is present. Moses’ teeth were the frame though which he clearly pronounced, unreservedly, the ongoing revelations and wishes of God.
A Haitian Creole phrase encourages you, when you need to stand undaunted against very strong opposition, to "show your teeth."
God’s exalted vision of human wellbeing, and the obligations that vision puts on us as believers, do not rise and fall with economic trends. In season and out of season, in hardship and in plenty, when the sailing is smooth and when the going gets rough, God’s expectations and demands do not waver. It was clear to Moses that all of Israel was to be led to the promise land. Not select clergy, nor favored classes. Even the stiff-necked and rebellious were not to be left behind for the sea to close on them. It was all or no one, do or die, no one left behind.
Sometimes there were rivers, and sometimes Moses had to bring water out of dry rocks. Sometimes there were quail, and sometimes Moses had to make bread fall from the night sky. And all of this while tolerating times of rebelliousness against himself, even calls for his death.
In the darkness, Moses learned that anguish aimed upwards becomes prayer, and that heaven understands and delivers.
Poor Moses-he had to keep this up even in moments of doubt, frustration and rebellion against his own destiny.
When standing for a second time in the parched desert, between a large rock and his thirsty-unto-death followers, (and being quite unnerved by them), when told by God to strike the rock, he struck it twice out of anger. The people drank miracle water to satisfaction, but his melt down cost him his entrance into the Promised Land.
As in the time of Moses, our own worldwide worries and economic threats are not game changers. They don’t change one tiny bit God’s vision for us, and expectations of what we are to do. This is especially true for those of us carrying on the mission of Fr. Wasson. Our hearts and homes are full of orphans and vulnerable children. Our outreaches are all aimed at marginalized women and endangered youth.
We don’t say "let’s keep going, but with half as many in our embrace." No, it is not possible.
We still believe in the small, slow resurrections, we believe in the work of God in the dark. We still send children like Chantal to the Dominican Republic for life saving heart repair, and we still pick up half dead women like Marie off the parched roadside where she lay dying, so they are not left behind.
Our anguish gets aimed upwards and becomes prayer. Water can still come out of the rock. The manna can still come from the heaven.
If we believe
We hit the rock twice at our own peril.
Thank you for sharing with us this clear vision of light at every step of the way.
Thank you, too, for showing the strong teeth of your determination all the way to the end.
It is precisely in the difficult moments, that we are called to make a difference.
A very happy and grace filled Easter wish, offered with much gratitude and friendship.
May your darkness be filled with angels, and your light bring radiant joy.
Fr Rick Frechette
March 14, 2012
Port au Prince
January 17, 2012
January 12, 2012
With the exception of Fr. Rick, any names in the following reports have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.
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. For more info on NPH Haiti and our programs, visit www.nph.org
In memory of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, Andrea Bocelli sent Father Rick of NPH Haiti this heart warming video message.
A New Years Message from Fr. Rick
It is with great satisfaction and gratitude, that in the first days of 2012 we will celebrate a quarter century of faith based work inHaiti, and so begin enthusiastically our 26th year of dedication.
Anyone who visits us in Haiti can see how much has been achieved by our twin programs, Nos Petits Freres et Soeurs, and the S.t Luke Mission. We have created jobs (1,600 people work in our programs). All these jobs are aimed at benefiting the marginalized poor, especially women and children. All of the programs have Haitian leaders. We work both on front lines of poverty (front line clinics, relief work, and front line schools), and yet we have also developed important institutions in Haiti that introduce new possibilities in healthcare, rehabilitation and education, and new kinds of jobs (neurosurgery, digital radiology, cancer care, to name a few).
We have developed production and training centers, which bring increasingly more income to our mission. We do extensive community work, including neighborhood development, and extensive relief work. We continue our huge work with orphans and vulnerable children. We reach for the stars, offering computer based learning to very poor students, and superior high school and university education. We invest our blood, sweat and tears, moving forward on a wing and a prayer.
For these many years I have kept you updated on our progress with reflections that are very human and also gospel based. They have included thanks for sharing in our work with your donations and sacrifices.
Because our works are so important, because we have come so far in 25 years and can go much further, and because of the financial crises in the developed world, I have become more forward in suggesting ways you can help. I hope you understand that I do this without the slightest doubt in the goodness and the power of Providence, and without in any way wanting to commercialize our work. We just don’t want to lose the lifesaving ground we have gained over many years.
Of the past 25 years, both 2010 and 2011 have been singularly years of bridge building. Haiti has been laid low by earthquake and cholera, and the persistence of grueling poverty. Thanks to your generous help and our strong Haitian team, we’ve been working day in and day to build bridges of light and hope, of friendship and solidarity, traversing deep valleys of sorrow and hardship.
Many years ago, when I visited London, I was amused by a recorded message played whenever the subway door opened. In order to help you step safely into the train, the voice said, "Mind the gap!"
I remember thinking to myself: in fact, I do mind the gap. I mind the gap between homelessness and having a home, between sickness and healing, between ignorance and enlightenment, between humiliation and dignity. I mind the gap between doubt and faith, between apathy and action. I mind the many gaps that perpetuate suffering.
And so a motto emerged. "If not me, who? If not now, when?"
Better said, "if not us, who? If not now, when?"
The immense team of the St. Luke Foundation sets out daily to fill gaps between need and hope. We have built 50 houses for those left homeless by the earthquake. We set up a field hospital that has cared for the victims of cholera when that disease was brought into Haiti, and spread like wildfire. (We have cared for 20,000 people there to date, patients who came from near and far, in pickup trucks and in wheelbarrows, fighting a disease that kills in a matter of hours; up to 50% of whom would have died without help.)
Our school system includes 28 schools, including a school for special needs children and a fabulous secondary school. There are 8,000 children who are able to study every day thanks to these schools.
On several occasions throughout the year, because of labor disputes at some hospitals, and the lack of facilities never rebuilt since the earthquake, we were obliged to receive scores of people with traumatic injuries and other desperate emergencies. Unable to ignore this gaping suffering, we ramped up our services and created a state of the art ER and ICU, and two other field hospitals. We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on life saving surgeries. We built the St. Luke field hospital in Tabarre, to care for whole families.
Many of the people who come to us for help become fast friends. An example is Marie Ginie, a 16 year old girl who saved her brother’s life by protecting him as a cement wall was brought down by a storm. These walls were weak, hastily rebuilt after the earthquake destroyed their home. The resulting gap in Marie Ginie’s life was enormous. She was paralyzed below the waist and needed orthopedic surgery. No one in Haiti could perform the surgery. She had no house to go home to. The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and our St. Luke crew stepped up to the plate and she had surgery and physical therapy at Mayo Clinic. With the help of some generous donors, we were also able to help build a house for her to return to.
And now, thanks to many donors, the St. Luke Team built a field hospital called St Mary, Star of the Sea. It is inCite Soleil, infamous as being one of the worst "slums" on earth. However after working there for years, St. Luke’s has the trust of the community, and knows that together we can help close the gap of poverty there. St. Mary’s is almost finished and it’s needed now more than ever. The trauma services at a nearby hospital, which previously served the sprawling shantytowns of Cite Soleil, closed permanently on the 15th of December. The gap created by lack of access to healthcare was already enormous, now it’s grown even larger. Challenge after challenge, the St Luke team courageously steps up to the plate and tries to make a difference, working to close the gap.
And so as we open St Mary’s to serve the people of Cite Soleil, we write to ask for your help. A donation will help us reach yet another important milestone, together with the people of Haiti.
If you can, please help us close the gap. If you can’t, maybe you can pass this message on to a friend. This way of requesting help makes it possible for the St. Luke Foundation to have no paid staff in the USA, so that 100% of donations go directly to Haiti to the mission.
It’s a challenge, but not an impossible task. We go forward in confidence, and hope.
I send this with best wishes for a happy new year, and pray for strength and blessing for you and your families!
Fr. Rick and Fr. Robert Joerger, C.P. at Cholera distribution center in Haiti
Fr. Rick Frechette, CP, DO
Port au Prince
December 29, 2011
A Christmas Message from Fr. Rick Frechette, CP
It was a simple story. Jesus was born in the simplest way, in the simplest place, of the simplest people. He was born at the simplest time, without disturbance or noise. No pomp, no ceremony, no titles, nothing of vanity. No place to be born within society. The onlookers were camels, donkeys, cattle and sheep. (And now you and I, onlookers from across the centuries, sadly sometimes resembling the first).
Hay for a blanket, stars for the canopy.
Humility, simplicity, gratitude, love, and faithfulness. These marked the moment.
This simplicity resonated in deep harmony with the heavens. Heavenly favor was revealed by a playful star, by enchanting trumpets, by choirs of heaven voices, by profound peace on earth. Who could ask for more?
The depth of this witness brought simple kings to their knees on the floor of a manger, far from their splendid halls, (but it drove complexed kings into jealous rage, pacing fretfully on marble floors, planning the murder of children).
Would that the world were simple. Wonder if children were just children. Not poor or rich. Just children. All favored. Does anyone even notice the dancing star anymore? Or are we weary, heavy, burdened, and trudging on with little hope?
Wonder if the way to help children, whose circumstance brings them far from their God given favor, were simple. No heavy bureaucracies that become self serving, no divided motivation, no demands for attention or fame or reward. Just simple.
Imagine committees, studies, projections and budgets giving way alternately to loving embrace, or passionate challenge, each in its season.
The call of Christmas, to you and to me, is the call to the simplicity of life that gives us freedom. It is call to free ourselves from complexity, and all the dangers that complexity brings. It is the call to serve humbly the God who is the beginning, the middle and the end of our journey. The God who especially loves children.
It’s a call to be simply, father, mother, daughter, friend, to the children who need us. The call to share hearts and values, time and treasures, and to share a journey together across the streets paved by our very limited days, toward our endless horizon. No one too far ahead. No one too far behind. No one left alone, no one left discouraged, no one lost.
A song for food, a laugh for drink, the joy of bread and wine.
As we continue to work together to help the children of Haiti, in season and out of season, in an ever more complex world, let us beg God to help us as we build with them, and for the children, a future.
Yes, we surely build homes and schools. We build clinics and hospitals. But we must build up lives and values. We must build up mercy and justice, dignity and peace, hope and trust. We must build the simple values proclaimed by the heavens, and fashion for ourselves and for the children simple lives. (Unless the Lord builds the house, in vain do the builders’ labor!)
Once again, we thank you for joining us in this noble cause. We carry you in our hearts and prayers. The New Year holds for us all many difficult challenges. We pray for you, in thanksgiving, that you will be blessed and strengthened by the One who is called Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
(But, be blessed and strengthened by all of us, too!)
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
Fr. Rick Frechette
Port au Prince, Haiti
September 12, 2011
Father Rick is attending the Project Haiti dinner on September 16, hosted by the St. Alphonsus Foundation. Read the full article here.
September 11, 2011
Katherine Jones: Haiti earthquake survivor is turning the ordinary to extraordinary in her life. An article in the Idaho Statesman about what one young woman is doing after surviving the earthquake in Haiti that killed her friend. Read the full article here.
May 9, 2011
The Rev. Rick Frechette, C.P., receives an honorary degree from Marywood University. Read the full article…
Fr. Robert Joerger, CP, is the Provincial of St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Province serving the eastern region of the United States. Fr. Joerger visited Fr. Rick in Haiti and shares with us his beatiful Easter reflection of his time with Fr. Rick.
Dancing in the Darkness
April 24, 2011
This past January I had the privilege of visiting Haiti on the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake there. I stayed with a Passionist priest who is also a physician, Father Rick Frechette. Rick is a truly charismatic person on many levels. With the help of many generous benefactors he has been able to build a hospital for children and has now set up facilities for the care of those with cholera, a nearly always fatal illness in Haiti. Medical volunteers abounded from the States, the Netherlands, and Italy.
On the first evening I was there a whole group of volunteers, some young Haitian women and men, Rick and I drove a convoy of trucks well outside the city to a massive burial place. There were fires burning in the distance, perhaps of the bodies of those who had died of cholera. We had some bodies of our own on the back of the truck.
We parked and laid the bodies on the ground. We celebrated a Funeral Mass for these unnamed and unclaimed. Rick gave a beautiful homily about the thousands of people buried here in unmarked graves, each of them at some point the "love of someone’s life".
After the Mass we placed the bodies back on the truck, driving over a rough road to where some young Haitian men had dug some graves. I helped to bury one known only as "Crazy Man". What happened next took me by surprise.
Out of the darkness came a band with trumpets and drums. They began to play and dance along with all the others who were undertaking the arduous tasks of burial. They literally danced on the graves as they buried the bodies with dirt and rocks. Those of us new to all this eventually joined in the dance. As Christians it made so much sense. We danced in the darkness, in the face of death, knowing deep within the promise of Resurrection.
Today is Easter, the Day of Resurrection. The Paschal Candle is lit in darkness and carried in procession. Whatever we might be carrying, whatever we might have buried, whatever darkness surrounds us, can be brought into the Light of Christ. We sing that the power of sin has no power over the Christ. We dance in the face of death wherein our tears become tenderness, our wounds become wisdom, our sufferings become compassion.
Father Robert Joerger, C. P. is the Provincial of St. Paul of the Cross Province.
A New Year of Grace:An update from Fr. Rick Frechette, CP,
January 1, 2011
There she stands, wounded and cracked, after having been through absolute hell for the long, bitter days of 2010.
Familiar words ring true here: " The gates of hell shall not prevail against her," - try as they might.
She is cracked and broken in places, and held up by struts, inside and out, that look like crutches. A church on crutches! A fitting image in a country where so many people were left limping, or limbless- or worse.
There she stands, leaning in welcome. St Philomena chapel. She has received hundreds of dead, and has been washed with rivers of tears. Within her walls have been offered the timeless consolation and advice of the scriptures, and the unquenchable power of the sacraments, morning after morning, throughout a year of nightmares.
On her right side, tucked tenderly against her wall, many dead from the earthquake are buried. On her left side, tucked tenderly against the wall, many dead from cholera are buried. Some of them are buried in my own clothes, when they have come to us crushed and filthy and in rags. It’s sobering to lower your own clothes six feet under, with someone else in them.
What do they have in common, the dead from the earthquake and the dead from cholera? They were gone in a flash. No time to prepare. We help them often with our prayers.
What else do they have in common? A dignified place, unlike hundreds of thousands of others, to wait for the last judgement. A dignified place, in the shadow of this house of God, within a few meters of her sacred altar, from which to remind us of the Church in heaven, whose help we desperately need.
Home. They are home. Pray for us from there. Welcome me when I am finally the one in my own clothes, when they are lowered into the tender earth.
There she stands, humble and firm, to receive our small faith community into the new year of grace, 2011. "In the name of the Father and of the Son"….the new mass, the first of 2011, begins.
Yes, it is exactly the word. Grace. A new year of grace. More than recounting the horrors and wounds of the last earth voyage around the sun, we start the new year appreciating what has been revealed and unveiled, the mystery (what stands behind the veil), of 2010.
It was a year that revealed God near to us, so near in suffering, God using my arms and yours, my feet and yours, my anguished heart and yours to run to those whose voices no one else hears or pays attention to.
It was unbelievable, the worldwide solidarity, not only the sending of money and resources we needed desperately, but coming personally to help.
Who could not notice and be astounded at the many works of relief and reconstruction that God worked among us- not only walls and schools, but limbs and souls. Who could not see the new birth God worked among us, the chance for children like Peter, Michael, and Edward not only to be saved from literal death to have a new life in Austria, and to belong to a person (like Naomi), to a place (like Austria), and to time (like childhood)..
It’s a huge transformation, to go from being a near dead nobody to belonging to person, place and time. It is the power of love. The power of one. The power of one who cares. It was a year that revealed to us what we are made of, strength we never knew we had- an ability to bind wounds while we ourselves were wounded, to offer hope when you could only hope to even have hope , to be steady and calm in overwhelming tragedy.
Where does our strength come from? You have got to admire it. It brings tears to your eyes, like when people came to Haiti right after the earthquake to pick up where volunteers left off. A few weeks before one of our volunteers died in the earthquake, she started a shoe drive in the USA for the children in our orphanage. After her death, her friends and countless strangers were determined to make her wish come true. Imagine the visit of her family to Haiti, after her death, to celebrate mass with us where she died, bringing with them hundreds of thousands of shoes for the children of Haiti.
I think of one of the Sisters, carrying on shell shocked but nobly, even accepting to administrate the damaged and overwhelmed hospital, after walls fell around her and on top of her and other sister companions were killed. Imagine a doctor returning from Cuba where we airlifted his crushed body, to help us again. How does Fred, and so many Haitians, find the strength to get up everyday and plow ahead after losing their entire family? They are heroes. There is no other word. I think of Jeffrey, dying before me as I write. We have done our best to doctor him, nurse him, care for him. He is doing more than his best to fight cholera and typhoid- an amazing determination- especially after having lost half his children "en ba lekomb," as the dreaded creole phrase has it, "under the rubble of the earthquake."
I am very sad to see Jeffrey die. Life has been so unfair to him. He is valiant. But his intestines are perforated from typhoid, and diseased with cholera. Just now he said to Chris, "I will die tomorrow." It is finished. He can’t fight any more. I am honored to have meet such a man. I feel like nothing next to him.
So, yes, it is true- a sad year has shown us almost nothing but greatness. The greatness of God, the greatness of the friend and of the stranger, the greatness inside of us.
The year has shown us that if you have even a bit of health and even one friend, and if you have even a little faith, there is nothing, nothing, nothing else required for your happiness- now and eternally.
A new years resolution: I will earn how to take better pictures. But for now, the attached is the best I can do. St Philomena Chapel. Even if the picture were dark and blurred, she stands for the best about us, the best about life, and the wonder of God.
May all that she stands for shine brightly in us throughout this new year of grace, and give us joy, and the peace beyond all understanding.
God’s blessing on you and your families, God’s blessing on us all, in 2011!
Fr. Rick Frechette
Cholera and Riots: An Update from Fr. Rick Frechette, CP
November 21, 2010
It is closer to midnight than not, and I just came back from our cholera tent hospital after delivering more IV needles that get drilled directly into the bone, and after trying to find more gasoline for the generator. The inter osseous IV catheters have saved the lives of the most dehydrated patients. The moon is nearly full, directly over head. You need to bend your head fully back to see its beauty. Full, like God’s eye watching us. Full, like God’s heart holding us.
Our tents also glow, like the moon. Five of them so far, with 16 cots each. Four more tents are dark, but vigilant and ready. The lit tents look pretty from far away, but they house quite a scary struggle. Most come away victorious. if not limping.
In the short time since we opened, 167 people have found help here, all with bad diarrheas, most of them consistent with cholera. Ten have died, and of these three were already dead when they reached our gate. That’s almost a 6% death rate. Let’s aim toward zero.
We have buried many dead that are not our own: thirty on Thursday, and we will bury another fifty in the morning, all from the public morgue. Destitute dead, for whose bodies and souls we offer a last and essential care. The word care is from a Latin word, cura, which also means treatment. It is a last treatment, a last good treatment, both for us and for them.
A few nights ago, when we had the funeral of one of the children that died of cholera, the children from our St Louis Home came to the mass and sang. These are children who are victims of the earthquake. In the candlelight chapel, small victims of the earthquake sang for small victims of cholera. Life is a circle, whose center is everywhere.
Even though there are violent manifestations around the city, related to politics and related to an out lash against homelessness, joblessness, hunger and cholera, we have quietly distributed 5,000 bags of rice over these days to reassure decent people who are poor and stressed that it is worth holding out for better days.
For those who like to know this, it takes about $22 to save the life of a child from cholera. From sources I have seen online, cholera can have as much as 50% fatality rate in untreated cases. I think you will agree that $22 is not very much money to keep a child alive and give her back to her mother. That includes the treatment with azythromycin and about 5 liters of IV fluid on average and re hydration salts.To keep mom alive is even a better deal, about $20. Mom needs almost twice as much IV fluid, but the doxycycline mom needs is much cheaper than azythromycin. Let’s splurge. Its the right thing to do.
There are many organizations doing heroic things in Haiti at the moment. We are very proud of our staff, our volunteers, visitors and young adults we have raised from childhood, who are doing heroic things as well. We especially remember Fr Wasson whose charism we carry on, and ask his help from heaven. We are fully confident we will see better days.
As always, thanks for your prayers and your help!
Fr Rick Frechette
Passionist Fr. Rick Frechette: Fighting Cholera in Haiti
November 16, 2010
I worked all night at our cholera treatment area, and during the night I saw a comparison I never would have imagined. Stepping out of the tents for fresh air from time to time, I saw the pearly white crescent moon overhead, beautiful and calming. Inside the tents, also set against a deep darkness, the eyes of the most severe of the sick people have the same form. Eyes sunk deeply to that the whites of the eye stay below the upper eyelid, with the eye rolled upward toward the forehead. Two crescent moons. It is a scary sight to see the depth of the apathy and surrender, not an ounce of fight left. It is sadder still to see it in children.
The last time I wrote there were about 4,300 reported cases of cholera in Haiti. That number is climbing to 20,000 with 1000 deaths. I read reports that about 200,000 cases are anticipated before there is a decline. We are setting up two more tents of 16 cots each, which will put our small base at 100 beds. You can believe me that even 100 people represent enormous human suffering, as well as enormous devotion (and work!).
The public morgue will not accept bodies, for fear of cholera. You cannot even bring the garbage to the normal dump without getting stoned by the neighbours for fear of cholera. We are cremating our own dead. It is sobering to be the one to push the furnace button, after placing the child inside. All night I see how closely the parents cling to their children, accepting to sleep in the most difficult positions as they find the best way to hold their child. I watch them and admire them, but the in the case of the children I am sure will die, it seems so unfair that the children are slipping away from such tender arms. The last arms to hold them are mine, as I place them in the crematorium. The grief of the mothers is as difficult for us to take as the illness.
In the book of revelations, St. John says he saw a woman "Clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." I still believe if there is a moon nearby, so is that special woman, who Christians believe to be with us in joys and in sorrows, and at the hour of our death.
Fr Rick Frechette
A Quick Word from Fr. Rick Frechette
November 10, 2010
The hurricane veered away from Port au Prince, and went pretty much between Cuba and Haiti. Lots of rain and flooding, lesser winds. Gardens destroyed, lots of flooding, goods and possessions ruined, minimal loss of life thank God. We were unscathed at our mission, but there is major flooding in our vicinity (neck high waters).
The day after the storm we were able to send by land and helicopter supplies to Dame Marie (a costal town in Jeremy), the costal area of Les Cayes (through Bishp Poulard), to Gonnaives (through Bishop Pean), and to Port de Paix by truck. We will continue doing this to other areas as well. Augusnel is delivering supplies to the tent villages near our hospital.
We have been working hard against cholera. We drove through 4 high and strong rivers to get to Port de Paix to help the sisters. We found about 20 half dead people all along the 7 hour drive. They were severely dehydrated. We gave IV fluids all along the way, pulling the people into our trucks and leaving one truck by the Marcel River to be a temporary IV station.
Our team can tell you stories that will make you cry. The sickness is an enormous hardship for the people. Those who struggle to get their loved ones to some kind of care are real heroes. Often they take donkeys, then canoes, and then walk for miles only to have their child die on arrival.
We were very fortunate that Dr Jeff from Ohio came with IV catheters that you put directly into the bone. We flew a team to Port de Paix yesterday to teach the sisters and their staff how to use it. So many small children have cholera, and it is nearly impossible when they are so dehydrated to find a vein for IV.
Statistics now say over 6000 are infected and over 500 have died. There are more and more cases in Port au Prince. We are ready to receive up to 400 cholera patients next to our St Luke hospital when Doctors without Borders, our neighbors, have no more space.
Thanks for your prayers and support.
Fr Rick Frechette
Update from Fr. Rick Frechette, CP regarding the outbreak of Cholera in Haiti.
Fr. Rick Frechette - Between a Rock and a Hard Place
November 1, 2010
The cholera cases are double from one week ago, about 2300 last week to over 4600 as of yesterday.
We have seen a lot of the victims because we have gone out of our way to see try to help them, as I mentioned, by going to Artibonite and helping there. We have made trips to about 7 places during this week- a number of times to St Marc, to Ester, to Dauphine. But one of the most desolate places we visited is Grand Saline. They are very poor and very friendly people, who seem to live at the end of the world. We could only go in by helicopter and out by boat. By boat I mean into the open sea at night in a small motored craft with no life preservers, no oars and no lights, starting off in the mouth of the filthy Artibonite river, which is full of the cholera. "Dear diary…"
The people drink water directly from the river because they have no other choice. There is no other water. Our friends from Operation Blessing have installed a number of generator run filters in the river so the people have a chance to drink clean water.
As I mentioned before, on our runs we bring beds, mattresses, IV fluids, water, gator aid and some food. Most people can’t eat much, since cramps and vomit are such a big part of the illness, so often we mostly bring snacks.
Now there are cases of cholera nearby us, here in Port au Prince. In general those who die seem to die quickly. They have so much of the bacteria that they lose fluids through diarrhea faster than anyone could even begin to give them fluids. The majority of people ride it out with many difficulties but victoriously. We haven’t seen many cases here in Port au Prince yet, but a short walk from us, at Doctors without Borders, there have seen 40 cases.
We have an organized plan to help in case of a huge outbreak of cholera in Port au Prince, in a way that will not disturb the function of, or contaminate, either our children’s hospital (St Damien) or our family hospital (St Luke).
We have covered about two acres of land next to the St Luke hospital with gravel, and we set up so far 4 of a total of 15 large tents, where we will receive cholera patients. We have set up a diarrhea clinic there, where our staff will evaluate anyone with diarrhea, without them needing to go into either the St Damien or St Luke compounds. After screening, if it is likely cholera, we will bring them nearby to Doctors without Borders cholera site. When they have reached their capacity of 250 beds, we will begin receiving the patients in our tents. We have a capacity for about 300 people.
We have organized all the logistics for routing, handwashing, toilets and meals to minimize chance of spread of the disease. Our senior doctor, who is from Cuba and was pulled out of the rubble of our old hospital in Petionville, worked in Africa when a cholera outbreak brought him and his staff 6,000 patients in four days. He is generously helping and guiding us. We had airlifted him back to Cuba with crushed limbs after the January 12 earthquake, but he returned to us a few months ago now that his injuries have healed. This is more amazing since he is in his seventies. You should hear him tell the story about how God used a rocking chair to save his life when our old hospital fell on him, or the story of how Norma convinced the Cuban embassy to airlift him home to Cuba, when they didn’t want to get involved. But I am straying now. Back to the point. We are nearly ready for a cholera epidemic, but let’s pray it doesn’t happen.
On top of this, you probably see that hurricane Tomas is heading right toward us. We will have heavy winds and rains starting Tuesday, and then will be hit full force on Friday. If you use google and type in hurricane Tomas, at least as of tonight’s forecast, you will see how the hurricane is going out of its way by turning 90 degrees north, on a dime, to head to Les Cayes and Port au Prince. I wonder, trying to look at the bright side, if it will dilute all the cholera out of the rivers and the city. But I also shudder to think what it will be like for the million people living in fragile tents, whose meagre belongings will be turned into missiles travelling at 90 miles an hour.
We are getting our mission ready for the hurricane, getting windows covered (hundreds of windows), and we will move the St Louis children and the St Luke patients to Francisville for protection. We are filling sandbags for the gates against flooding, and stocking up on supplies and drinking water.
In this country it’s hard to stick to your day job. We always have pretty dramatic side issues to deal with as well.
Please keep us in your prayers. The situations have been trying and challenging. Let’s pray that Tomas blows out to see where it can hurt no one, and that the cholera just dries up.
Then we can get back to work, trying to accompany people on a march out of poverty.
Thanks for all your messages of encouragement, and your prayers, and the donations which are very helpful.
God bless you!
Fr Rick Frechette, CP
The Trying Times of Cholera
October 25, 2010
The people of Haiti seem to be facing this newest challenge, Cholera, with their usual strength, and a full determination to plow ahead.
The Ministry of Health, and foreign organizations working in public health, are trying to contain the spread of Cholera by having people treated in centers in the Artibonite valley, as opposed to going to Port-au-Prince or other centers away from the Artibonite River, the source of contamination. There are also vigorous instructions on the radio as to the importance of thorough hand washing and proper food preparation.
As you probably know, Cholera is different from other illnesses that cause diarrhea because you can lose so much fluid within hours of the start of the illness, that you will go into shock and die. It also doesn’t help that Cholera is very contagious.
During this epidemic, we have been in solidarity with the Haitian people with our traditional good neighbor policy. We have made four trips to St Marc, one to Ester and one to Robinet near Grand Saline. Long hard rides on rough roads, where we all sleep in the truck when necessary, drinking water we bring with us and eating snacks. We usually go to these places after a days work at our own mission, and then do a partial night shift at St Marc, from about 7 PM to midnight.
Our approach is very simple. We just try to strengthen what is being done. We bring mattresses or beds for those on the floor, we bring the patients tooth brushes, tooth paste, towels, Gatorade or Pedialyte, some articles for hygiene, some snacks for when they can eat. For healthcare we bring IV fluids and catheters, IV poles, sheets, etc. Because usually the staff are strained, we usually wind up using these ourselves for the patients. Our usual work has been starting and managing IV therapy for people who have fallen between the cracks.
You can imagine it is a hard reality. People’s most private bodily functions become very public, and with so many people with vomit and diarrhea together it is very difficult to control sanitation. It is embarrassing for the patients. They are very weak with sunken eyes, dry mouths and tongues, skin that has become loose and thin. IV fluids and the Pedialyte or Gatorade, when they are managed right, save the people from death.
We are very lucky and very glad that we can help our neighbors in their troubles. We will try to go to Grand Saline in the next day or two by helicopter if we can, since it is the only way in. For our own institutions we can have more involvement. We are being sure there are proper water filters at our orphanages, and we have a full plan of action worked out in case Cholera comes to Port-au-Prince. The plan at St. Damien’s preserves the inside of the hospital from contamination (so that maternity, cancer are, surgery and other programs do not get contaminated), and yet still allows us to receive up to 400 children with Cholera. At the St Luke family hospital, and even at Francsville if necessary, we have set out the plans for how to receive up to 200 adults. We can expand these numbers if necessary.
In any case, my own impression from working in the field these last days is that the Cholera is being contained. There are still a lot of patients but less. There are only 6 reported cases in Port-au- Prince, and I believe they are at the general hospital, and they are all from Artibonite (not infected in Port-au-Prince).
Let’s hope and pray that we will see a decline now in the number of people embattled by this illness.
Thank you for your prayers and concerns and support. We are always glad for donations to help. We have invested heavily into IV fluids and catheters, Pedialyte, Gatorade, sheets, buckets, and on and on and on.
Best regards and prayers for God’s blessing on you and your family,
Fr. Rick Frechette, CP
Father Rick Frechette, CP, is the director of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos/Nos Petits Freres et Soeurs (NPH/NPFS, Spanish and French for "Our Little Brothers and Sisters") Haiti. Click here to learn more about NPH/NPFS.
Fr. Rick Frechette, CP, provides a six month update from Haiti:
Six months have gone by since the earthquake, and easily our work is three times larger than it was before. We have so many new programs to meet the pressing needs. Today for the first time, we fired up our crematorium. The sad truth is that poverty still humiliates the poor even after their death (a simple trip to the general morgue would show that to be true in a second). Our first attempt at a more dignified burial through cremation was predictably for a child. We said the usual prayers for the dead, and commended Lori to God, to ash, and to the earth. This is our reality. The circle of life, coming around all too soon, completed already in childhood. Our crematorium is dedicated to Our Mother of Sorrows. We have the sorrow of burying more than 50 children and 30 adults every week.
Our new campground for displaced children is nearly ready. We have been working there all week. Instead of circling the wagons, we squared off empty containers in a huge rectangle covering 4,000 square meters. We will expand it in time. The containers themselves will soon be dormitories for the children, and the area for meals, schooling and activities will be in the shadow of the containers with the help of large awnings. There are about 350 children waiting to come in. There will be an area for small children dedicated to St Ann, the grandmother of Jesus, and a section for older children dedicated to St Louis. We hope to open July 27, on the feast of St Ann. In the meantime, the program for kids in tent cities, called Fr Wasson’s angels of light, is going strong and fast becoming an informal school system and nutrition center for 3000 children.
We have started another eight street schools over these six months. One of them is for blind and deaf children. The school they used to attend, St Vincent’s in Port au Prince, was destroyed by the earthquake, so we made a simple school for them until St Vincent is rebuilt. Our first ten children are already in this simple school. We named the school for the late beloved founder of St Vincent’s, Sister Joan Margaret. Our other 23 schools are all in session, some in tents and some in undamaged buildings, and all of them will be rebuilt slowly. We have a campaign in progress for this.
The program for prosthetic and rehabilitation called St Germaine is well underway, and many people leave our gates with crutches, wheelchairs and artificial limbs just a little bit stronger and a little bit more able after every therapy visit. The mothers are so beautiful and patient with their children, but sadly sometimes the mothers also are disabled or missing a limb from the earthquake. Hope springs eternal.
Our St Luke field hospital for adults and children has saved a few lives already. We are making a prefab surgery room at the moment, and doing our best to make it a family environment. We have a portable CT Scan already, and a portable Digital XRAY in the planning, most important since we receive terrible trauma injuries. Our ability will be greatly increased by this equipment which will be used in an air conditioned container! Just today, we received the donation of an ambulance for the field hospital, from the government of Spain.
On July 23, our original orphanage (as of 23 years) we will receive 40 children from the earthquake. It will bring the population there at St Helene to 400 children.
We are still very busy with distributions of food, clothing, water, tents, and thousands of shoes donated in memory of Molly Hightower, one of our deeply mourned volunteers killed when our headquarters at Petionville collapsed. The distributions are difficult but important, since Port au Prince hardly at all much improved from the original catastrophe six months ago. I think many of you saw the pictures of the memorial we made for our deceased children, staff, volunteers and colleagues from the earthquake. It is at St Damien Hospital. It is our new cornerstone.
At St Damien hospital, our cancer program is improving, the surgery center is very active, the new maternity and neonatology programs and struggling but doing well, and we now can do digital electroencephalograms and have them interpreted abroad. This is to monitor the seizure activity of our patients…
Many thanks to all of you for your prayers, donations, encouragement!
Fr Rick Frechette
July 20, 2010
Fr. Rick Frechette spoke about the situation in Haiti at the Passionist Monastery in Pittsburgh on May 4. Watch his presentation in full.
Actress Olivia Wilde helps support the work of Father Rick Frechette as a member of Artists for Peace and Justice.
Artists for Peace and Justice in partnership with Father Rick have been able to make an enormous difference in the lives of thousands of Haitian children. Their commitment to providing education for the poorest children is what drives them forward as the country begins to rebuild. The children in their sponsored schools have suffered trauma that would destroy most people, and yet they somehow find a way to show up in clean uniforms, eager to learn, sometimes in sweltering tents that will serve as classrooms until the students once again feel safe stepping under a roof. They are commited to making sure the the children are fed, healthy, and safe while receiving an education that will encourage them to rise to their potential as leaders, so that Haiti’s brilliant minds are no longer left untapped.
Angels of Light: A day camp program for the children of Haiti’s tent cities.
In the days immediately following the earthquake, Fr. Rick’s organization began a day camp program for children left orphaned, vulnerable and displaced in the tent cities of Port-au-Prince. This program each day, provides children fun activities in a safe environment, two nutritious meals and help to heal their emotional wounds.
Video Update from Fr. Rick Frechette in Haiti.
Fr. Rick Frechette continues to deal with the aftermath of the earthquake which struck Haiti in January. In this video he celebrates Mass in the damaged chapel at St. Damien’s with volunteers from all over the world. He buries the dead. He also discusses the new adult orthopedic field hospital built out of containers and talks about the prosthetic clinic that has been added to St. Damien’s rehabilitation center.
March 3, 2010
Video Update from Fr. Rick Frechette in Haiti.
Update, March 2010
The Weekly Standard profiles Fr. Rick Frechette:
Love Among Ruins
Caring for orphans, ransoming hostages, burying the dead – it’s all in a days work for Fr. Rick Frechette.
by Matt Labash
Read the article at: http://weeklystandard.com/articles/love-among-ruins
See accompanying photos: http://weeklystandard.com/blogs/slideshow-love-among-ruins
Video Update from Fr. Rick Frechette in Haiti.
Update, February 24, 2010
Haiti: Faith, Hope and Determination to Rebuild and Continue
Last month, Fr. Rick offered Mass for Molly Hightower and Ryan Kloos on top of the rubble of the Fr. Wasson Center on an altar made of fallen block, using chant and incense to honor them and all who died in the earthquake, and to show faith, hope, and determination to rebuild and continue.
The Father Wasson Center in Petionville, was a 7-story building that served as a guest house, volunteer residence, administrative offices and day school for children with disabilities. It collapsed in the earthquake. School was not in session at the time of the destruction.
The site is being cleared by heavy government equipment, and Fr. Rick will rebuild a central administration center there. There are also plans to make an artistic monument to stand prominently on the corner, by a famous Haitian artist, dedicating the new center to Ryan and Molly and honoring all the victims of the earthquake.
Haiti - 30 Days Later
An update from Fr. Rick Frechette, CP
February 13, 2010
It is traditional in the Catholic faith to celebrate mass in remembrance of the dead after one month has passed. Today throughout Haiti, at 7 am, in what is left of the parishes of Port au Prince, this mass will be celebrated for the estimated 200,000 dead from the earthquake.
In addition to these masses, President Preval has declared today to be a day of national fast, and the beginning of three days of national mourning. We are participating in this act of solidarity by offering mass at 7 am at Ti-Tanyen, together with Bishop Dumas, at the burial place of the indigent and unknown dead from the earthquake. We ourselves have buried about 2,500 people there in the last 30 days.
After weeks of frenetic activity, we are returning to a state of equilibrium. Our hospital had become a trauma MASH unit, as had all other medical centers in Port au Prince that are still standing. We were able to offer about 30 surgeries a day at four sites (two in our hospital, one on our hospital grounds in a tent, and one at the St. Camillus Hospital, which we staffed for the emergency.) Many of these, sadly, were amputations - sometimes two for the same adult or child.
To give an idea of the size of the problem, it is likely there are about 20,000 people now who have been amputated or who have orthopedic hardware screwed through their skin to the bone. Port au Prince has about 20 Haitian orthopedic surgeons, and visiting teams to Haiti will soon leave. All 20,000 need to be followed closely for removal of hardware, control of infection, reevaluation of the amputation, and of course for artificial limbs and rehabilitation. Obviously 20 surgeons will not be able to handle this load. We have worked closely with the St. Camillus Hospital so as to return our St. Damien Hospital to a pediatric center and to have a growing center for adults at St. Camillus. We hope together to be able to keep good tabs on the patients we have operated on, and hope to be able to provide well for them in the future.
In collaboration with the Papal Nuncio, the president of the Haitian bishops conference, the local CARITAS office and the Italian Protezione Civile, we are setting up seven positions in the provinces, (especially since about 30% of the population has abandoned the capital) to be able to help enable access for these people to a medical system. We can do our best to follow a certain number patients from these sites, return them to Port au Prince for needed attention- by helicopter or land,- and use these points as well for large distributions of food and educational materials for schools. We hope to continue to partner with St. Camillus and the Haitian bishops to strengthen a similar response within Port au Prince as well.
At Francisville, we are making a center for production of artificial limbs. Gena Hergaty hosted a meeting two days ago of 30 non-governmental organizations at our St. Germaine program, to determine the best collaboration for all those eager to invest in rehabilitation and physical therapy.
On the home front, Erin Kloos has made an exceptional recovery after being dug out of our crumbled Fr. Wasson Center. The funeral of her brother Ryan will be later this month in Phoenix. Fr. Craig Hightower celebrated the funeral of Molly Hightower, concelebrated by Fr. Phil Cleary. I hope I can arrange to leave Haiti for a few weeks at the end of February to see my father, and to visit both families for mass in their homes.
We offered mass last Saturday for Molly and Ryan on top of the rubble of the Fr. Wasson Center on an altar made of fallen block, using chant and incense to honor Molly and Ryan and all who died in the earthquake, and to show our faith and hope, and determination to rebuild and continue our life giving mission.
The Fr. Wasson Center is being cleared by heavy government equipment, and we will rebuild a central administration center on the site, with a metal instead of cement framework, which are fast becoming popular here. We will also make an artistic monument to stand prominently on the corner, by a famous Haitian artist, dedicating the new center to Ryan and Molly and honoring all the victims of the earthquake.
In Tabarre our three areas of destruction were the perimeter walls, the tower, and the chapel. The Italian Protezzione Civile is clearing the debris, reinforcing the tower, rebuilding the chapel and rebuilding the walls. Additional internal, non-structural damage to the hospital is being repaired by the Italian companies that made the initial installations (especially the central oxygen supply). The new maternity and neonatal program, born of necessity during the traumatic days following the quake, is following a good and logical course, and the rest of the hospital is returning to normal.
Our surgical capacity will still be challenged as we tend to many postoperative children and new traumas. The cancer center got quite a boost, thanks to Sister Judy, as it is now a partner with the Danny Thomas Children’s Cancer Hospital in the USA. This will bring quite a help for development, diagnostic, training, material and medicines.
The St. Helene orphanage in Kenscoff was largely spared, but we were glad to see so much charitable activity on the part of the children, coming to the hospital to visit injured children and distributing food and supplies in the tent cities.
The Family Services team has been very attentive to vulnerable children in the tent cities and has elaborated a good plan for continued involvement. Future reports will be given on all these points I mention in this summary by the people involved.
We are still gathering the names of those who have died or disappeared in the rubble. We hope soon that Daniela, our temporary home correspondent, will be able to make a memorial page on the NPH website. We are very much struck with sorrow by the deaths of our colleagues or deaths in their families.
The St. Luke program has been valiant and tireless, and we suffered the loss of some staff and directors. We also suffered the loss of one third of our 18 street schools. We will resume school in tents, as soon as we have enough, and thanks to Artists for Peace and Justice, we are studying all aspects of rebuilding.
Everywhere around us there are huge social problems: woundedness, homlessness and hunger. There are wounded, homeless and hungry among our 800 employees (all programs combined, including St. Luke). This is made more dreadful by the advance of the rainy season. We had our first rain yesterday.
In a separate letter over the next few days, I will outline the investment we hope to make in addressing these three social problems and the rebuilding and advance of our own programs.
For today, please join us in mourning. Join us in prayers for the dead, for the living, for the future.
Thank you and God bless you.
Fr. Rick Frechette