Rebuilding the Structure…Operation Genesis for a Deaf Culture in Haiti

Friday February 17th, 2012 | Filed under THE FARM IN HAITI

ground breaking

ground breaking

ground breaking

ground breaking

100_1415Greetings again and thanks for checking up on the Institut in Santos, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The Daughters of Wisdom are amazing. With the help of other agencies…Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, etc… the reestablishment of permanent buildings has begun “on the Farm”. 300 children (100 residents) who are all hearing and thus speech impaired, are being given a hope of a normal life.

Last time I was there I learned so much! It’s like going with a glass half filled and I return with it overflowing and, at the same time, emptied. I always see so much more that is needed

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Trip #3 to Haiti…. Hunting for the Hope!

Thursday May 5th, 2011 | Filed under Uncategorized

Found it!   AGAIN

IMAG0156Lent, with the” ashes-to ashes-dust-to-dust “was very real in our world.  Earthquakes and devastation in New Zealand and Japan, we well as the ongoing recognition that “here today and gone tomorrow”  can happen to anyone; powerful and the week.

I just returned from my third trip to Haiti to spend only time with the Daughters of Wisdom and my new found friends (children) at the Institut Montfort (school/home for children who are deaf and cannot speak.  I have written about this in my previous blog and I want to share with you some updates.  (1) we must be very proud of our missionaries and church members who work with the poorest of the poor.  They are really the Church in motion! IMAG0019 (2) More and more I see how our Church has been instrumental is bringing education and medicine to the entire world over the centuries!  Frankly, it seems in the “lands of plenty” there is more doubt, skepticism and pettiness that can occupy our minds when it comes to religion and church.  Where’s the Joy?  

 100_1457(3)  I see that we in the U>S> are hugely blessed beyond our wildest dreams.  Clean water, education, electricity, front and back lawns, transportation, air-conditioning,  money, ability to dream, savings, bathrooms, architecture…are just a few of the many gifts we take for granted.  (4) Though the government of Haiti has an almost impossible task of coming up with a quick solution to distill the agony, the Church has already demolished and removed debris of their destroyed schools and churches.  This isn’t because we have deep pockets, it’s because we rely  on the flock of Catholicism who are so generous to the poor in Haiti.  As for HCA (the Holy Childhood Association) we have raised about $500,000 which, in turn, 100% was given to our priests, religious sisters and brothers and people of Church already in Haiti to help with initial devastation and, now, rebuilding.   Alas, still we are just trying to secure up our temporary shelters.

When I first visited the children at the Institut Montfort I saw UNICEF tents that housed 120+ children who has escaped their former building collapsing on them in Port-Au-Prince.  You can see the pictures of these surroundings from my previous trip in scrolling down.  The tents eventually gave way to rats and snakes.  The toilets were not clean and there was no running water.  Their dining area was an area under tarps atop mango trees, they had a woodshop with no tools; they had tent classrooms (tents are really hot during the day) and the list goes on and on.  Now, there is a temporary dining hall on a cement foundation with plywood walls, to wooden dormitories …rat free…clean water, flush toilets (5 of them for 120+); cold-water showers (4 for 120+), a water sanitation / purification facility, some electricity, classrooms made of plywood, a woodshop WITH tools, one hot water heater, walls… all the stuff needed to secure and firm up that which remains temporary.  There are plans to rebuild but, of course, the process is long a ridiculously expensive.

Of course, the best things about it all are the children.  Thank God I’m an extrovert.  If they spoke I could not understand them and if they could hear they couldn’t understand me.  So…it’s perfect.  Making faces, smiles, shaking hands, blowing bubbles, kicking the soccer ball, coloring and being taught “sign language” by those who can’t hear or speak was quite a tear-jerker.  It would be very funny when, oftentimes, I would forget that the kids couldn’t hear.  They would be running off somewhere and I would shout, “Hey! Get back here!” to no avail.  I’d have to throw a mango!  These kids can feel. 

So, now I’m involved in Japan …How horrific!  The school kids in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles have collected over $72,000 to be sent to the diocese of Sendai. 

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An Experience of Haiti…an Experience of why we hope!

Monday December 6th, 2010 | Filed under Uncategorized

IMAG0124IMAG0058IMAG0022December 6, 2010

 

 Dear All,

 

ADVENT…when hope comes with simply belief that the “possibility” of a long-awaited promise (hope) can come true!   Imagine, being hit with years of corrupt government, depletion of natural resources, earthquakes, hurricanes, cholera, lack of education, lack of social services….lack of all those things WE actually feel entitled to…and, alas, finding that the “real deal” that comes with our FAITH is actually making things “begin to possibly get better”!

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Thank you for your support and prayers as I have returned from the Thanksgiving holiday IMAG0032spending time in Haiti.  What an amazing trip!  Actually, weird as this sounds, it FELT like being home again.  At the airport, of course, there were many who wished to carry my bags for tips. I IMAG0010like finding the older and less fit guys.   I found an older gentleman with one arm who helped me.  Gave him a $10.  debrisHe asked for a $20. That would be about 3 days pay for him.  I gave him a $20. Of course, the heat and humidity hit right away.  No problem, though, because it sure was cooler than August!  Yikes.

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kindersIMAG0018IMAG0002The sisters … the Daughters of Wisdom… picked me up at the airport.  I had packed two big bags with all sorts of stuff…school supplies, a few cheap Target DVD’s, balloons, bubbles, coloring books, diarrhea pills (those were for me…just in case), about 10,000 tablets of children’s vitamins, about 500 tablets of rehydration pills (for those kids already hit with cholera and who needed to be rehydrated), energy bars, candy, cold medicine, hand sanitizer and all types of stuff.  My visit was meant to be short so I could get out of there before the elections! Not a pretty sight, I was told.  Luckily a mass riot and another interruption of services (i.e., airport!) were avoided…as of this moment. 19 candidates for president!  I’m rooting for the gal!  A former  First Lady, a mother, not into deep pockets.  She Looks tough; like a tough loving mother!  I really don’t know much about the candidates.  I don’t even live here and It’s sooo easy to be  totally fed up with the present government.  Thieves who work for thieves!  Pure and simple.  You can’t even ship stuff into the port from America for the most part.  It gets stolen at the Port.

 The United Nations is everywhere.  We don’t see it much in the states but they are sure present in Port Au Prince.  So many nations “Man and Woman” the  various consulates; 6 month stints. unitednations2

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The sisters drove me, first, to their school in Petionville…somewhere outside of Port-au-Prince.  The school…Sacred Heart (above)…was totally destroyed and all the debris has been cleared.  Actually, the damaged/condemned Church properties were already demolished and cleared.  This made room for the big tent schools (UNICEF) and having them situated on the original site.  There were over 1000 children from K – 12 running all around the place! The sisters lived  plywood mini-huts that were dried from the rain.  (There was no water proofing; tar paper, etc)   Their kitchen was an open fire and a pot to boil in.  kitchenfire  Of course, coal was the fuel (which is why the trees were all cut down over the decades for fuel) in a confined space.  No time to preach about inhaling fumes.  Had to move on.  But…All of their schools in Port-Au-Prince were destroyed.  I can’t even imagine how hard it is to start over; totally over…while taking in all the children of the area , teaching them, loving them and feeding them and their families.

 

Sadly, the Daughters of Wisdom also loss their retirement home (below)…wherein 6 of their sisters were killed by the fallen debris in the earthquake. r_221_3 They have relocated to a place outside of the city adjoining a small ward that they have for children who are very very mentally and physically handicapped.  It’s just amazing how peaceful everyone is around so much devastation and sickness.  The retired sisters in their new temporary headquarters were just delightful. 

 

 

 

The roads are terrible, there are still tents everywhere.  The long duration of travel time for such a short distance is because of the poor roads and people everywhere!  It’s too hot to stay in tents and the tin shacks (that have been there for 50 years before the quake!)  in the daytime.  If there was a tropical storm that blew through, it had all dried up and dust was everywhere.  Still, there is debris everywhere BUT I did notice less debris/trash in the streets.  A few of the larger buildings had been cleared away and rebuilding could be seen as a possibility

Now, after leaving Petionville and getting a little watered down, Off to “the farm” where was my main destination to be with the 300 kids (deaf and mute) of whom 100 were boarders (orphans). The Institute deMontfort which is a special special place.  Celebrating  50 years, when the quake hit (5:00 pm) their structure in Port-Au-Prince.   I can’t even imagine the chaos and the frustration of not being able to communicate affectively and effectively. These tents just didn’t arrive over night!

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 I was here during my last trip, as you know, and the place completely grabbed my heart and soul. This is a place where kids who cannot hear and who cannot speak live and go to school.  These kids were either born disabled (birth defects from any number of reasons…bad water, bad food, no food, no water) or they once were able to hear / speak but got sick with no medicine to prevent their physical losses.

 

I vividly recall the first time I was here in August.  I didn’t a single flower for the whole week.  I told the students of St. Cyril’s School, Encino, about this.  Spearheaded by 5 fifth graders,  in three days grades k-8 raised $1414 as well as make 300 colorful handwritten cards (in French and with flowers) to each of the K-8 students at Montfurt.   I returned to Los Angeles with 300 equally beautiful homemade cards of Merci and Bonjour for the kids of St. Cyril’s. 

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IMAG0015It is so amazing to be in their presence.  When I arrived at “the farm” they opened the gates and all the kids lined the road. I thought it was a fire drill. (duh!) They were lined up to to welcome me.  Fun!  I got out of the car and we all danced to the competed with each other’s attempts to “communicate” Hello!

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.   The kids born deaf didn’t seem to make a sound.  They’ve never heard a word their whole lives.    Those who at one time had an experience of hearing… would try to speak and make noises that would surely be music in heaven.  Because they can’t hear they can’t speak.  Perhaps we hear too much!!! (Without Listening???) Either way, for kids who can’t hear they hear more than I do.  For kids that can’t speak, they speak louder of the love of life than anyone else I know!

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We played, blew up balloons, blew bubbles, kicked the ball around,  watched  some videos, prayed Mass daily, etc.  Their tent classrooms were firmed up with wooden sides though the outside feel is still very much there.  Before there were only tarps separated the classrooms from one another.     The boarders still live in tents and I could hear them every morning around 6:00 AM walking to the latrines and a cold shower (no hot water).

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Every day I would eat with the sisters…Daughters of Wisdom.   I have never seen such joyful and positive attitudes after really living in harsh conditions…especially since the quake. Being around joyful “religious” is tough to come by these days and I loved being in their presence. I hung out with the kids in the evening.IMAG0090IMAG0117

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After being with the kids the first day, they showed me their woodshop that had no tools.   SO, off we go to a HomeDepot equivalent and taught the sisters how to shop.  Thanks to a lot of you!!

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We purchasedtools, power tools, necessities, plumbing stuff, building stuff, batteries, solar lanterns, purification stuff…..we bought over 600 items for under $2500.  Now, the Wood-Shop has what they need…to start!  Even electicity!

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Then the next day I found the place where sisters shopped for food and we did some very serious shopping bargaining there as well.   

From our missionaries, the word is that though there is all that foreign aid given to Haiti to help and rebuild, because the present and outgoing government is so incapable, no proposals as to how to use it have been given.  One just doesn’t give billions of dollars to a lame duck!  The $$$ is there. Just no brains or heart to use them.   Yet, the Catholic “know-how” of our missionaries, with the assistance of our Holy Childhood Association, Mission Societies and Catholic Relief services have demolished and removed the debris of the condemned buildings.  This allows the tents to return to some place of stability until the rebuilding process begins…in phases.

 

For the rest of the city…it seems that if you own a wheelbarrow you’re in good shape of working removing cement and bricks. 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

  The sisters have a rebuilding plan for “the farm”.

“The Farm”  is outside Port Au Prince .  Believe me, even though it’s tougher to get the kids who aren’t residents to school (they rent three buses)it’s better being out of the noise and dirt of Port-Au-Prince.  The Capital are where the “services are”.  Those who hadn’t fled to the North or South are still in the city for the most part.   It’s maddening and the farm is paradise in contrast. The Dorms are first in rebuilding phase. 

What did I leave away with?  Well, I’m still trying to figure that out because I continue to reflect, ponder and pray as to what, where, how (not “why”) this new epiphany experience is God’s continued prompting.

Thanks, again, to the kids of Los Angeles and all of you who helped bring over $70,000 of love and care to so many people here.  The possibilities are endless.  Perhaps we are part of Christ’s resurrection of Haiti!  I thorough believe and have hope from simply the “possibility”.

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DAY 3…Paradise in Hell? Port-au-Prince

Wednesday August 18th, 2010 | Filed under Uncategorized

IMAG0018Today…finally…I visited the Daughters of Wisdom.  They are a Haitian order of Sisters who HAD a huge school in the city which schooled over 600 teenage girls.  They have a tent-school in Port-au-Prince as well.  What once was a 400 student orphanage and school for the deaf was totally destroyed in the city. IMAG0027 As a result the sisters somehow (the miracles are amazing!) were given some land on which they built such a wonderful and joyous place!  IMAG0019IMAG0032Clean, accommodating and…get this…the first open field I saw that wasn’t filled with garbage or tents! IMAG0056 I promised all these skids a load of athletic stuff…soccer balls, etc.  This visit was the highlight of my trip as of now!  The beautiful children, so happy and expressive!  I, not speaking the lingo or being able to sign, used the old Deasy “give’m energy and play with them”.  We had a ball!IMAG0045IMAG0055

After some much needed water….after doing over 14 presentations to 14 classes of children who couldn’t hear a word I was saying (lucky kids, huh?)…we sat down and chatted with the sisters.  So much fun…and YOUNG!

Once leaving the Sisters, we went off to the town of Santo.  About 15 miles out of the city…which takes 30 minutes no traffic; one hour with traffic…we visited the Fr Jeanne Francois who was the pastor of St. Mary Magdalene’s.  With a destroyed school on one side (it’ll take $16,000 to demolish it) and with a school construction in progress (a simple two story 7 room structure in its third year of building…ouch!…you knew that a celebration was much needed and by God they were going to make one!. The place was abuzz with preparing for their big Feast Day Celebration tomorrow, July 21, the feast day.  We sat down with some other padres and seminarians and enjoyed a simple meal of rice and beans (which I didn’t need because, again, I was still raising sweat!)  Afterwards, I travelled to the tent city and/slum area right off the parish.  The flies, smell, garbage and mud that we had to walk through just to get there was enough to make you sick.  Really.  This was the worse one I’d seen.  You can see in the people’s eyes that look of “is this all there is to life”.  Just sitting there watching time go by maybe before going to take a shift at the one of a thousand road stands selling bananas or fresh(?) fish

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Day 3: My visit to the people/church of Port-Au-Prince Haiti

Wednesday August 18th, 2010 | Filed under Uncategorized

IMAG0006choir practiceUp for 6:30 mass with Fr. Joe….77 years young…born and raised in Maine.  47 years here in Haiti. He’s seen governments tumbles one after the other; as well as the buildings.  Believe me, here at CAMP OMI (as they call it) there is off and on electricity; now and then internet; air conditioners that don’t work; water but it doesn’t run through pipes as of now; and it’s still standing with some rooms and toilets and add on structures totally destroyed.IMAG0002

Again, many many many people don’t live in their homes anymore because they are absolutely terrified.  Remember, the quake came around 5:00 pm so everyone was pretty much out and about.  As a matter of fact, every afternoon around 5:00 pm we’ve been driving back from somewhere or the other and the traffic, the people traffic, the movement of United nations, military…people, people everywhere!  What doesn’t move?  Very Very little sign of clean up; very little signs of how to get rid of the trash that just mounts up. Even the wild pigs can’t keep up with it!

IMAG0068A recycler could make a fortune out here.  Plastic bottles are everywhere; plastic tarps, plastic baggies, plastic plastic plastic!  When the rains come, all that plastic washes into the streets, rivers and ocean.  If someone came out a paid the people 2-5 cents a can or soda bottle…people would be collecting the stuff because they need the money.  If the government would pay people $1 for a gvt. Distributed bad full of paper, spoiled fruits and assorted crap that just lies there and rots away…again, the city would be clean and the people would make some dinero.  Of course, I’m sure there’s some bullshit reason or bureaucratic reason that this couldn’t happen, so why put oneself in that frustration!  Right?

IMAG0067As I said, previously, there are about 40 nations out here manning (ladying?) local conciliates, embassy’s and local stations of the national police.   Cubans sent over 500 medical people.  The Italian army oversees one of the factories where the Italians pay Haitians to sew and make clothing to be distributed. USAID is seen everywhere on tarps that make up tents.  UNICEF has been big in providing tent-like structures to school children in and try to prevent them from being scorched by the sun.

IMAG0027The money that the USA government collected and/or was promised gathered HAS gone to Humanitarian Agencies/Programs that have been here way before the quake.  The Haitian government would love to have all the money collected to spend as it thinks best.  But “momma didn’t raise a fool”.  The president is up for re-election (which means, if defeated, a whole new government comes in with no line of succession of programs already set in motion.  Therefore, a lot of  the money is still in the hands of our government because the US  wants to know how it is going to be spent?  Show proposals, show bids, show phases of development.  In other words, “give us a plan and we’ll give you the dough.

IMAG0070Amazingly, with the EMERGENCY kind of in control (i.e., ways are back to normal…if you call this normal) and with the idea of reconstruction coming about, the first things the populace believes in are to rebuild the schools.  That’s where the future is and who will be able to rebuild this nation.  Almost every school…with almost every church… was destroyed.  Almost every destroyed school has been moved into temporary tent structures provided mostly by UNICEF while the destroyed school remains.  Their tent-like-schools are everywhere.  The schools have taken in anyone. The Catholic Schools under the OMI’s have taken in everyone in their schools. Their enrollment has skyrocketed and the teachers are spent because no additional teachers have been added because no additional $$, though promised, has come through.  The schools……also feed the children as an incentive for the parents to get them to attend school.  Of course, more kids equal more food which equals more money.  As you can imagine, the kids take a lot of their food home to their families in the slums or in the refugee tent cities..         

IMAG0016As I said, previously, there are about 40 nations out here manning (ladying?) local conciliates, embassy’s and local stations of the national police.   Cubans sent over 500 medical people.  The Italian army oversees one of the factories where the Italians pay Haitians to sew and make clothing to be distributed. USAID is seen everywhere on tarps that make up tents.  UNICEF has been big in providing tent-like structures to school children in and try to prevent them from being scorched by the sun.

IMAG0031The money that the USA government collected and/or was promised gathered HAS gone to Humanitarian Agencies/Programs that have been here way before the quake.  The Haitian government would love to have all the money collected to spend as it thinks best.  But “momma didn’t raise a fool”.  The president is up for re-election (which means, if defeated, a whole new government comes in with no line of succession of programs already set in motion.  Therefore, a lot of  the money is still in the hands of our government because the US  wants to know how it is going to be spent?  Show proposals, show bids, show phases of development.  In other words, “give us a plan and we’ll give you the dough.

IMAG0073IMAG0072Amazingly, with the EMERGENCY kind of in control (i.e., ways are back to normal…if you call this normal) and with the idea of reconstruction coming about, the first things the populace believes in are to rebuild the schools.  That’s where the future is and who will be able to rebuild this nation.  Almost every school…with almost every church… was destroyed.  Almost every destroyed school has been moved into temporary tent structures provided mostly by UNICEF while the destroyed school remains.  Their tent-like-schools are everywhere.  The schools have taken in anyone. The Catholic Schools under the OMI’s have taken in everyone in their schools. Their enrollment has skyrocketed and the teachers are spent because no additional teachers have been added because no additional $$, though promised, has come through.  The schools……also feed the children as an incentive for the parents to get them to attend school.  Of course, more kids equal more food which equals more money.  As you can imagine, the kids take a lot of their food home to their families in the slums or in the refugee tent cities..

       

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A different view not from the Pew!!!

Sunday August 15th, 2010 | Filed under Uncategorized
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Day 2..PM. My visit with the people/church of Port au Prince, Haiti

Sunday August 15th, 2010 | Filed under Uncategorized

IMAG0054Let’s see……..where did I leave off.  Ah yes……..The parish garbage disposal was hard at work (left)Fr. Maart was there in his tent coordinating the reconstruction of the demolished school and rectory. 

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 padresBecause Catholic fun kidsRelief Services was close by he was able to make that political connection which is how he got some help so fast.  With any help in Haiti…whether Catholic, Christian or Government…you have to rob Peter to pay Paul!

desparationdesparationWhile the Papal Nuncio in Haiti gave the imperative to welcome all children into the tent schools they were promised money to pay for the additional costs that come with extra food, water and medicine.  To take in every child is also to assure education plus food! It has not arrived and probably never will.  Not words but the sentiment expressed.  While there is little hope in Church and Government, more emphasis is on getting help from the U.S. and the other 35 countries there. 

For example, my organization HCA immediate started collecting monies from the children of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  We raise over $400,000 and $50,000 was wired directly to 8 religious groups of priest and sisters who were already working in Haiti.  I can assure you, after visiting with them, that the money had been given for emergency aid of the people while they continue to live in damaged/condemned buildings.  As for the $70 million raised in the U.S. Catholic community and given to Catholic Relief Services to “assist” in the Haitian crisis, $30 million was given to the discretion of the bishops and $40million was and is being utilized to help in the emergency aid and reconstruction efforts.  Believe me, $70million is only a drop in the bucket.

IMAG0074IMAG0064People are still starving and living on top of their own waste.  You have the people in the slums (which have grown 400% over the past 50 years) helping (?) those people in the tent cities who have been displaced from their homes.lunch with sistersIMAG0067

 

IMAG0066Day 2 fills me with “what to do’s” immediately and in the long run. 

I heard that the $1 billion of USA aid sent to Haiti, is mostly locked up in a bank somewhere until the Haitian government proposes their plan of cleaning up (not happening), food, medicine support of the Haitians (not happening), plan of reconstruction (not happening) and programs to continue education (not happening).  If it wasn’t for the UN and for outside humanitarian efforts….this place would be more of a wasteland that it already seems to have become.

Oh well……. 

IMAG0002Fr. Joe continues to apologize for the house, my quarters and that there is no cook.  He  is coming to learn that I’m nothing and can hang quite easily on what little there is.  He’s awesome!  IMAG0006They don’t get many stayover visitors from the USA Church and is happy that he has some companionship.

My goal for tomorrow…is to find a flower.  Haven’t seen one yet.

ACTUALLY, I SURE AS HECK DID!!!!!!!   THE REAL DEAL

I moved on to the hills to visit the parish that Fr. Joe helps out at…St. Anthony’s.  There we have a convent…Sister of St. Anthony of Padua…an orphanage, a Church, Parish center, Rectory and parish Hall. We lunched in their plywood convent (a makeshift shack) of rice and beans.  They offered me a Haitian Beer and…I didn’t take it!  Unbelievable !  I was a little distracted.  Impressed?  well, Check it out….

Here we have the parish conference room and learning center the rectory and the church below

st. anthony's sanctuaryst. anthonys sisterschoir practicest. anthonys conference roomparish centerst. anthony's rectoryst, anthonys churchlunch w sisterslunch with sisters

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DAY 2: My visit to the people/church of Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Sunday August 15th, 2010 | Filed under Uncategorized

I am totally drained!  Day 2 was more amazing than day                 1 here in Haiti, Port au Prince and surrounding areas.

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Let me tell you right off the bat…I am totally humbled by the way these men and women in Haiti serve the poor AND live within the means of the people they serve. 

 

022Presently, I am staying  in their Provincial house which other members of the Oblates won’t stay in.  This is the neighborhood. These guys were here during the earthquake; I was not.  So, I don’t have the memory and the experience of horror that they had to endure.   As one priest said it, “so where are we going to live, if not here?”  Mind you, they did the tent thing for a few months. But there’s not much room for tents anymore so they gave theirs up.   So, alas, I am staying with Fr. Joe and Fr. Provincial (a French name)017

This is the view from the porch of Provincial House.  This view wasn’t there until after the earthquake.  There use to be a buliding structure here.  I can’t help but only wonder what dust must have covered the city…like a 9/11…after the quake at 5:00 pm.   original2

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Another observation….there is so much destruction everywhere you turn. I mean everywhere (knowing very well that we are taught “you can’t say everywhere”  but I am telling you…destruction is everywhere.  Absolutely, EVERY building has been destroyed, damaged and/or condemned.  I’ve only seen one church that survived.  I’ve only seen one school that has survived.  I haven’t seen a single bulldozer.  I haven’t seen any observable MISERY in the faces of the people.  (They are so use to this.)  It’s not that they don’t know any better.  They don’t feel they will have any better.  Endless tent cities in the street, on the highway islands, in the mountains, on the river banks…there must be hundreds of tent compounds.  Hundreds of thousands remain dead; the missing in action remain in the rubble that we drive by on every side.

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The faces.  Oh my God the faces.  The life expectancy age out here is 54.  Therefore, there is youth.  Young beautiful people who go about their days working in the gutters selling their wares to return home to the tent. 

smiling014cool kidfun kidsYet…

 

 

 

They are clean. I don’t know how they do it…but when I see Haitians walking the streets their clothes are clean.  They have a sense of dignity.  Though they can ONLY survive (let alone believe they could somehow thrive) that seems to be enough, I guess. I have to admit, when I see them all huddled under a tree sharing shelter from the sun, when I see them all gathered around a fire talking and smiling with each other among each other’s trash, when I see the sense of peace among st the struggle… it is actually enticing. There is dust everywhere.  From the American point of view there is poverty everywhere. There is dust everywhere.  There are people everywhere.  There are children everywhere.  There is disorder everywhere.  Yet, THERE  IS LIFE EVERYWHERE!  Something very attractive and freeing  about this. Though I am living in a condemned building, I am not living in a tent as, presently, the rain comes pounding down on us and the people of the tents are getting drenched because their tents on not built on any dry/stable foundation.  Tomorrow will be a mess. Rains are coming.  Those living in tents ontop of wooden pallets will be more comfortable than those without.   I am curious to see if they walk about as clean and dressed as they did today.smile

 Their skin smooth as silk. Their teeth bright and white from chomping on the sugar cane/ fruit husks.  The little girls dress neatly in their uniforms with ribbons in their black hair; the white of their smiles only magic the beauty of their eyes.  In the sweltering tents in which they are being taught, there is discipline, manners and respect. Their French is magnificent.  They’re bodies lean and strong from carring over the years hundreds and hundreds of pounds of meat, rubble, laundry, bricks over the  years.st. anthonys sisters

Yes, what you’ve heard in the U.S. press is that the money promised Haiti has not yet arrived.  I AM TOLD that that’s because there is no major plan as of yet for reconstruction.  Frankly, I don’t know where you begin. You would have to literally  bulldoze the city for, I mean it, EvERY home is in need of demolition and/or repair.  How can you demolish a home with no bulldozers, remove the debris with no place to move it too and reconstruct a new home in a newer and more stable way…which means more money?

Presently, there are about 35 nations out here helping the Haitians.  In one place I am told the French rebuilt this highway and the Syrians run this U.N. compound.  There are so many charitable and helping organizations out here that you can’t count them.  Protestants, Catholics, Charities, Children based organizations, etc.  Catholics abound and they have total respect for the clergy, women and men religious who sacrifice so much in order to experience God in them.  There is no other way to put it.

Fr. Joe, Fr. Jeanne Pierre and I drove to ther parish, St. Anthony of Padua, in Fondoies…along the road to Jamel.  The countryside was beautiful and it was good to get out of the city…which, in itself, too a whole long time.  Traffic, congestion, stalled cars, destroyed/stripped cars, awful roads still not fixed and dangerous due to quake destruction, etc.  Road are dirt, awful and filled with debris and trash.  Haitians are packed into vans, sit on top of garbage trucks and stow-away on anything moving to get where they are going.  They can walk for miles up hill and then miles downhill back home.

024Before our arrival there we stopped in at St. Rose of Lima in Leogane.  The parish garbage disposal was hard at work (left)Fr. Maart was there in his tent coordinating the reconstruction of the demolished school and rectory. 

 

Time to get a drink of anything My ass is sore from the bumps along the road.  It took us an hour to travel 10 miles.  be right back.

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Fr. Ken’s reflections on his 4 day visit to Missionaries in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti

Saturday August 14th, 2010 | Filed under Uncategorized

day 1   7/20/10Haiti…I have arrived safe and in Port-au-prince this morning, Monday, 8:00 am.  Fr. Joe and Fr. John Pierre, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, picked me up which was great because I was the only Yankee Doodle standing around with Haitians cramped under a tree to protect us from the sun.

so hot, debris everywhere
Yes, it is amazingly hot here.  Modesty seems to dictate the norm of clothing for most men are in longpants, women are dressed more casually.  I am sweating like a dog.  The Haitians, especially those with their own wheelbarrow, seem to work with USA aid groups to clean up rubble…which is everywhere!  You can’t drive or walk a mile without seen endless number of evacuation camps/compounds which occupy literally every open piece of land, park, highway island, backyard, courtyard, church square, riverbed, …. everywhere.

debrisPeople are everywhere on the streets walking, selling stuff, finding any protection from the heat.  It’s better to be outside of the tents than inside; you;d know that if you ever were in a tent when the sun was beating on it.tents (2)
Yet, there are smiles among the dust; you can see who is sick with HIV/AIDS which I am told is still around as before the quake.  Though the people seem to be enjoying some process of getting food and water and shelter for living… from our standpoint this aint living.
thumbnail5I toured some schools today where the sisters of divine wisdom….adorable…have taken in endless numbers of little girls into their schools.  Again, this is all done in hot facric tents or wooden sided tents largely supplied by UNICEF and USAAID.  NO ONE wants to go into the buildings…
…but, of course, I am staying in a heavily damaged but SECURE building in the hills of Port Au Prince at the remainder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Provincial house. No running water; no phone.  I am presently hooking onto an internet signal that I know not the owner.  throne w ACI can’t wait to pour some water out of a bucket over my head and wash off the day’s heat and dust.
The JOY among the missionaries abounds.  These are awesome young and old men and women.  Fr. Joe has been here for 47 years.  The sister who runs the school for the deaf and blind has been here for 40.  So much in one day!

Pictures will follow, I hope, of the destroyed the amazingly huge cathedral, the house where the bishop died, destruction and smiles of the children. thumbnail20100719221318(1) I hope. I shot mostly video today but will try to grab and upload some pics tomorrow.
So much to talk about…Catholic Relief Services, Relief from all over the world sent to PAP (port a prince), where i am told world relief money is and/or where it is not and life Living around here.  But, I am tired. 20100719220849
Just wanted to let you know that I’m okay and safe.  I’m not staying in the most stable place but seeing that the quake before this year’s wasn’t until 1911.  God is good so I’m really not worried. 018None of the other residents are…thuogh I do know the escape route (i aint stupid)  be grateful for all the gifts we Americans enjoy.  Don’t sweat the small shit.  As you can see around here…life’s way to brittle and easy to be snuffed out.  019padres Ken          20100719220849

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With the Clergy Abuse Scandal: SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?

Saturday April 17th, 2010 | Filed under Uncategorized

Frankly, the reason a person should stay  within any Christian community is that they have experienced God  within it, from it and beyond it! 

Yes, the infallible authority of the Church has seriously had it’s priorities wrong for a long time.  It, seemingly, desperately feels the need to hang on (i.e., guard) to an antiquated image of itself that it assumes the world..at least the Western World… still needs and perceives as validating its’ authority despite any concern for credibility. 

Yes, we Catholics can’t imagine a worse offense and scandal to rock an institutional image of purity and Christ-like-care than in having clergy abuse the vulnerable…children… and allow them to return to positions/office  of contact with kids as “Father”. Yes, we are all sinners seeking forgiveness (seeking to grow in Christ’s loving and being loving)  and we all can get sick with the hopes to get better.  It’s especially hard to understand, let alone to forgive, such a powerful Christian institution of whom  many (i.e., sexually inquisitive youth, married-divorced – remarried, women who’ve had abortions,  gays, the affectionate, women, non-Catholics etc.)  when they have been experienced  as unforgiving and as inflicting shame.  It’s inaccessibleness/unwillingness/over-concern with management will continue to portray Catholic leadership as not-in-touch with reality but only formulas.  The accusation of it being  unaware falls on deaf ears or “the devil made you do it”  when it is  confronted on being a rigid institution that assures us of what is sin and not as affectively points to what is God.  It can be experienced as an entity that says “sorry” to things of the way past though, in the present,  it doesn’t seem to have changed its ways.  It still feels the need to claim its authority based on “we were here first” (God WAS with us?) rather than on the poverty of spirit necessary to be an instrument that invites, empowers and wishes to sustain connection with the Spirit of God beyond the asserting of policy.

Yes, it’s hard to shrug off the reality that the clerical Church has claimed itself as the “end all that is all” for the past 1500 years (until the local surge of emphasizing the priestly dimension of baptism  because of the shortage of ordained priests).  But, I will never understand the whoopla given a local clergy/prelate’s permission, control and validation deemed as necessary to the quest of it’s “children” for closeness to the Holy Spirit within, among and beyond.  Why someone leaves any Christian-community because of personnel  policies (“I’m leaving my Faith because “they’re” allowing women and gays…those sinners… to be ordained)’ social justice policies ( sinners have no rights) and ecclesiological differences (though Christian leaderships don’t agree the “faithful” seem to enjoy each other) baffles me.  YOU GO WHERE YOU ARE FED…BUT…YOU ALSO GO WHERE YOU CAN FEED.

In fact, if one can claim an experience of God within their life of being within a Catholic community…springing from the centrality of the Spirit of Eucharist…why leave it because of the wrongs and mistakes of others (no matter who it is)?  If one feels welcome, celebrated, empowered, challenged to love, connected to God and therefore uses their Catholicity to welcome, celebrate others, empower the powerless and to continue to connect to an abundant love of the Father… why leave it? Now, if you’ve limited your Catholicity as simply “going to Mass” you  are probably totally disarmed by the scandal.   Yet, this is what is happening.  I’ve known many people overjoyed when finally discovering a parish that was surprisingly welcoming, accepting, challenging and empowering.  Sadly, though,  because “the Pope’s policies” (usually experienced in the incomplete summaries of media and hearsay) are contrary to the welcome they experience on the parish level… many have gone.  Again, why leave a connection that you experience as working?

When I was hungry… I was fed!   If we can’t claim to having a continuing experience of being fed and being invited to feed, we will leave.  When I was thirsty you gave me to drink…I was cared for.  If we can’t claim that we’ve been invited, empowered and anointed to care for the poor and experience God in the effort, we will leave.  When I was in prison you visited me….Though I was guilty I was forgiven.  If we can’t claim an experience of a forgiving God in our local forgiving community that will sacrifice itself for those who wrong as well as those who have been wronged, we will leave.  When I was alone you visited me…I was invited to believe that my presence was “Christ enough” thanks to the Holy Spirit.  If we can’t claim to experience God  by living, growing and breathing the Gospel and the Eucharist they will leave because they did not believe in the more of life, love and self that comes with our Faith.

I can claim to have had an experience of God because of, in this regard, my association with the Catholic Community. Because of the whole people of “church” I can claim, without being poetic, that when I was starving, I was fed. When I was arrested and guilty, I was visited. When I was set as a sinner, I was assured of my continuing connection with the Father.   Though I have had a positive experience of God among my own local Church leadership, especially Cardinal Mahony,   I can also say that I’ve experienced humiliation by other church leaders and people.  Though I entertained and actively investigated chucking it all, Christ’s hand of care “as Church” prevailed.

But I cannot let those unfortunate humiliations ever outweigh how those other wonderful people who call themselves “Church” have been a most salvific experience of Christ to me and have resurrected me to be a Christ-among-many  to the “hungry rich and the hungry poor”.   It’s an experience I cannot deny as greater than the shames.   I’d be a fool to unplug myself from it.  Yet, I also must challenge myself as to how I have caused hurt due to my own inadequacies.

Life would be so much fulfilling and affective for us all when we model  leadership/management  just as humbly, humanly, responsibly and vulnerably as our Jesus was, as many saints could and of whom all the people of God should believe they can experience.

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Fr. Ken Deasy
“When one discovers their power to lift up the life of another, REAL LOVE is discovered and you can't get enough of it.”- Jean Vanier

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