Tuesday, February 2, 2010

At the Crossroads: People of Haiti, Here We Come!

By Father Benjamin Alforque, M.S.C., V.F
Parochial Vicar, St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

On Feb. 1 I landed on the island of Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean. The community of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart welcomed my sister and me in the MSC Provincial House, in Santo Domingo.

Here I met an MSC confrere from Haiti, Fr. Joel. Ordained priest last December 2009, Fr. Joel lost his brother in the January earthquake. His father’s face is now deformed, his cranium having been hit by hard objects while he walked in the streets of Port-au-Prince during the earthquake. Fr. Joel, now a missionary in the Dominican Republic, returned home to celebrate with his family a memorial mass for his brother. His brother’s body was found seven days after the earthquake, and, being in the state of decomposition with countless others, was summarily bulldozed and buried in a mass grave. A seminarian, Rev. Eric, is here too for his pastoral year, prior to his ordination late this year or early next year. He hails from Haiti, and he too lost his relatives in the earthquake.

Our MSC confreres here have been to Port-au-Prince several times since the earthquake. They are helping coordinate whatever response could be made to the situation of the people in Port-au-Prince, especially to our MSC parishioners and those living in tents in the grounds of the MSC Formation House.

Their information is worthwhile considering very seriously. There are about 3 million people affected by the earthquake: 2 million without homes from the city of Port-au-Prince and another 1 million who come from around the city. Now, try to imagine 2 to 3 million people living in tents in the open spaces and grounds in the city. This is a city without a cathedral or church (7 churches collapsed), a Christian community without a pastor and without a functioning governmental social services system. There are no stores or malls; no food, no water, no electricity, no means of communications. All supplies are coming from the outside world, but with a defective distribution system. Picture in your mind bodies left dead and dying in the streets or elsewhere, not because of the earthquake anymore but because of hunger! And to top it all: the coming month of May is a season of heavy rain and floods, and the months of June and July a time of strong hurricanes and storms! What will happen to these millions who are now living in tents? Is nature part of the consideration in the rescue and relief operations? And to think, Port-au-Prince continues to lie on the seismic belt of the island.

Today, February 2, my sister and I will proceed on a 6-hour bus trip to Port-au-Prince across the mountains and the long deep fault. I carry with me the spirit of solidarity of our parishioners and of our Diocese, with the leadership and support of our Bishops. That is why I say: People of Haiti, here we come!

1 comment:

  1. Amben! :) I'm so sorry proud of you.


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