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HAITI: Missionaries Distribute Survival Kits, Fear Cholera Outbreak

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Haiti are working in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew to help those in need. Once the immediate danger from the storm passed, and the Haitian government cleared them to do so, Salesian missionaries on the ground launched direct relief efforts. And, because of the leadership role these missionaries assumed in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, they are well positioned to make an immediate impact. With schools and programs throughout Haiti and the Dominican Republic—including Port-au-Prince, Fort-Liberté, Cap Haïtien, Les Cayes and Gressier—the response has been efficient and comprehensive.

“Locals trust us and know we are a dependable presence to whom they can turn in times of emergency,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “And the fact that we have already-established infrastructure and logistical capabilities—like storage warehouses, transportation vehicles and distribution channels—as well as a unique knowledge of how to get things done locally, means that we can respond quickly and effectively.”

In fact, the warehouse was built using funds from Salesian Missions, made possible by donations from donors who responded after the 2010 earthquake. The warehouse was used for not only storage but also as the staging ground where missionaries and other volunteers assembled the initial 400 survival kits. A delivery truck also funded by Salesian Missions made the transport to Les Cayes possible. The town—which is located in the area hardest hit by the hurricane—is home to Salesian schools and programs for the poor.

Each relief kit—containing rice, beans, salmon, sugar, olive oil, milk and soap—is intended to provide for five persons for four days, according to Father Victor Auguste, deputy director of the Rinaldi Foundation of Haiti, which is heading up the Salesian response efforts following the hurricane.

The supplies to stock and assemble the kits were purchased locally, and additional donations are needed immediately to be able to continue the effort. In addition to food, clean water and soap will be essential if there is a hope to contain a cholera outbreak.

“It is a real catastrophe,” says Father Hubert Mesidor, a Salesian missionary serving in the Vice-Province of Haiti. “The destruction reminds us of the 2010 earthquake. And there is a real fear of a resurgence of the cholera epidemic.”

The need is great, and time is of the essence. This is why Salesian Missions, along with other Salesian NGOs around the globe, has launched an emergency fundraising drive. Those who want to help victims of Hurricane Matthew are urged to make a donation online at www.salesianmissions.org/haiti-relief/give.

Slamming into the southern part of the island on Oct. 4 with wind speeds of up to 145 miles per hour, Hurricane Matthew ripped tin roofs from the fragile makeshift shelters in which tens of thousands of people had been living since the earthquake. Vulnerable to the storm’s fury, more than 1,000 people are confirmed dead. Roads and bridges collapsed, and communications systems failed—stranding victims from critical aid. The storm surge flooded entire farmlands, destroying up to 80 percent of food crops and killing significant numbers of livestock. Mudslides have clogged wells and sanitation systems, and the cholera that Fr. Mesidor feared has already killed 13 people and sickened an additional 62. More than 50,000 people are now homeless, with food and safe drinking water desperately scarce.



PHOTOS courtesy of the Rinaldi Foundation.


Salesian Missions



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