Haiti Visit: Simplicity and Commitment Meet Great Needs

Haiti traffic

Maneuvering through traffic in Haiti can be challenging at times due to the number of people, the cars, and the motorcycles all trying to get someplace. Photo by Mikaele Sansone/CRS

Fr. James Henke, Archdiocese of San Antonio, joined a delegation of four priests, one deacon, and two CRS staff members in a trip to Haiti as part of the Global Fellows program. They went to witness the work of CRS with the intent to share the Haiti story with Catholic communities in the U.S. Fr. Henke filed this report.

Today was another day of being moved by a number of experiences. We began the day by celebrating the Eucharist with the Sisters of Charity at 6:30. There are eight nuns in residence there. One of them, a Haitian, is a doctor. The sisters have a hospital that serves the people of the area. After breakfast we visited a number of the wards of the hospital. They have beds for 250 patients. The patients are on simple cots with thin mattresses. There are about 25 patients in each ward.

One of the thoughts that comes to me about the situation is how we in the United States might accept being in a semi-private room but would much prefer a private room if we have to be in the hospital. These patients were privileged to just have a hospital to go to! As we visited the wards and one of the nuns introduced us there were smiles and waves from the patients. I was touched by the simplicity of the place, the attitudes of the patients and the commitment and joyful attitude of the nuns.
The children, as is typical, were special. One of them who is in the process of adoption sang a couple of songs for us.

In reflecting on the situation I am once again touched by the needs of the people of Haiti. There is so much that we take for granted back home. The Sisters of Charity provide a tremendous service but it touches only a small portion of the needs that exist. These are our brothers and sisters who are struggling with the bare necessities of life and many times don’t have even those. Yet we have so much. How do we appreciate what we have? How can we better connect with and show our concern for our brothers and sisters all over the world?

Some of the other experiences of the day were the traffic out of Port-au-Prince on the way to Les Cayes. And we think we have traffic jams – people, bicycles, motor cycles, cars, buses and a few animals all moving along together. A delightful sight is the children in their colorful school uniforms – blues, reds, yellows, pinks, browns, blacks and various shades of those colors. It’s a special sight.

So here we are. All God’s people doing our best to deal with and play the hand that we have been dealt. How will am I playing my hand? How am I helping others play their hand? May we be open to God’s grace moving us!

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