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HAITI: Salesians respond after devastating earthquake

Salesian missionaries are responding to community needs after devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake


(MissionNewswire) On Aug. 14, 2021, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti five miles from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes in the western part of the country, about 80 miles west of the capital of Port-au-Prince. The earthquake was stronger than the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated the country in 2010. To date, there are more than 1,400 people who have died and thousands of people who are missing and injured.

The cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie, located in Haiti’s southern peninsula, have reported major devastation with people caught under rubble and buildings collapsed. Phone lines were also reported down in Petit Trou de Nippes. Hospitals are at their maximum having accepted more than 5,700 patients.

There are no reported injuries at Salesian centers in the region. All of the buildings are intact with small collapses of walls surrounding the centers. Only one organization, belonging to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, suffered substantial damage in classrooms and an auditorium, but there are no reported deaths or injuries.

Salesian missionaries, who were involved in rescue, relief and restoration operations during the last earthquake, have already mobilized to help those in need. They have visited families in the communities where they work to assess the damage and the needs of the families who have been impacted. Some displaced because of damage to their homes have been staying with Salesians at their local centers.

“A formal fundraiser has not been mobilized yet,” explained a Salesian missionary in Haiti. “However, there may be people who want to donate and know about what the Salesians are doing. We encourage those who can support our work to do so.”

About 60 percent of Haiti’s 11 million people earn less than $2 a day. The country has high rates of violence from armed gangs and is recovering from political turmoil. Haiti has been in the throes of a political crisis since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated on July 7. The government is not financially equipped to take care of repairs from this most recent earthquake.

Salesian missionaries began working in Haiti in 1935 in response to the Haitian government’s request for a professional school. Since then, Salesian missionaries have expanded their work to include 11 main educational centers and more than 200 schools across the country.

Each of the main centers includes a number of primary and secondary schools, vocational training centers, and other programs for street children and youth in need. Salesian programs are located throughout Haiti, including in the cities of Port-au-Prince, Fort-Liberté, Cap-Haïtien, Les Cayes and Gressier. Today, Salesian missionaries in Haiti provide the largest source of education outside of the Haitian government with schools providing education to 25,500 primary and secondary school students.



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