HAITI: Salesian Missions Launches Emergency Fundraising Campaign to Aid Relief Efforts Following Hurricane Matthew
“What is most needed at times like this are cash donations,” explains Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “What they need are relief supplies and the fastest way to make sure they get what they need is to donate money to organizations already working on the ground in the affected areas like Salesian Missions. We have missionaries, schools and programs helping the poor in cities and towns not only throughout Haiti, but also in the Dominican Republic, so this adds to our ability to coordinate response efforts.”
Those who want to help are encouraged to donate online at https://www.salesianmissions.org/haiti-relief/give. Donations made through this specific page will go specifically for relief efforts in Haiti.
The storm is still active and the government in Haiti has asked people to stay where they are until it passes. In the meantime, Salesian missionaries on the ground in Haiti are preparing for relief efforts and will begin this work as soon as they are cleared to do so. They are working with Salesian Missions as part of this preparation.
Funds raised will purchase the following relief supplies which have been identified as a priority by aid workers on the ground in Haiti: water, food (rice, beans, oil), sheet metal and plywood. The goal is to begin offering a hot meal to 3,000 children a day as soon as possible.
After the January 2010 earthquake, Salesian Missions in New York worked in cooperation with the Rinaldi Foundation, which headed up Salesian relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti. The experience both the Rinaldi Foundation and Salesian Missions gained from this work is invaluable at times like this. Not only are Salesian missionaries often called upon by the government to assist, their programs are trusted by locals who know it is a place to turn during emergencies. Infrastructure and logistical capabilities (such as storage warehouses, transportation and distribution channels) allow Salesian Missions to provide assistance during times like this. Additionally, partnerships are key to effectively respond to humanitarian needs during emergencies such as this. Salesian Missions works with organizations within Haiti, in the United States and around the globe, and therefore has access to the supplies needed.
So far, Salesian Missions has received word of damage to offices, schools and churches affected by the hurricane. Roofs have been lost and buildings are flooded. An agriculture program has suffered the loss of its crops and animals (including cows and goats).
Salesian missionaries arrived in Haiti in 1935 upon request from the Haitian government to run a professional school. There are more than 200 Salesian-run schools in Haiti and programs reach more than 25,000 children and youth. Salesian programs are located throughout Haiti, including Port-au-Prince, Fort-Liberté, Cap-Haïtien, Les Cayes and Gressier. Salesian missionaries operate 10 main centers across the country, each of which has a number of primary and secondary schools, vocational training centers and other programs for street children and youth in need. Programs are focused on assisting the poorest and most vulnerable children (and their families) in countrysides, cities and slums. These include feeding programs and vocational and technical education to prepare youth for the workforce. Nutritional meals are a key element of the schools, ensuring children not only attend school but also are able to have the energy and focus to learn. In Port-au-Prince, Salesian missionaries operate one the largest free cafeterias in the world feeding more than 25,000 people daily.
Haiti’s educational system is continuing to rebuild after the 2010 earthquake destroyed 90 percent of schools and 60 percent of hospitals, killed thousands of people and left more than 350,000 injured. Despite ongoing reconstruction and infrastructure improvements, Haiti remains the poorest country in the Americas and one of the poorest in the world. According to the World Bank, over half of the country’s population of 10 million lives on less than $1 per day and approximately 80 percent live on less than $2 per day. The majority of Haitians lack adequate access to education, healthcare and nutritious food.
ABOUT SALESIAN MISSIONS
Salesian Missions is the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, working to raise funds and develop programs to aid youth and families in some of the poorest places on earth. Haiti is one of more than 130 countries around the globe where Salesians work to give hope and provide opportunity to vulnerable youth through education and skills training. Learn more about where the Salesians work and the programs they provide at www.salesianmissions.org.
Salesian Missions is headquartered in New Rochelle, New York, and is part of the Don Bosco Network—a worldwide federation of Salesian NGOs. Salesian Missions works in cooperation with the Rinaldi Foundation in Haiti, which is also part of the Don Bosco Network. Both organizations have immense experience and resources in handling humanitarian emergencies. Funds raised by Salesian Missions in the United States will be distributed to the Rinaldi Foundation.
PHOTO CREDIT: Hector Retamal / AFP (Licensed by Getty Images)