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Columbia St. Mary's Daughters of Charity ease suffering in Haiti 

On January 12, 2010, when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated one of the world’s poorest countries, it  impacted an estimated 3 million people by leveling thousands of homes, hotels, hospitals, businesses and other structures. While there is not yet a confirmed death toll, officials estimate that more than 100,000 Haitians have lost their lives.

Columbia St. Mary's Daughters of Charity ease suffering in Haiti The Daughters of Charity - a co-sponsor of Columbia St. Mary's and a sponsor of Ascension Health, CSM's parent company - have several missions in the island nation, including a strong presence in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. Almost immediately, fellow Daughters of Charity from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico were able to send some supplies and Sisters. 

Sadly, the Daughters, experienced grave personal tragedy as well. Sister Brigitte Pierre, who entered the Daughters Charity in 1997, died in the rubble of the earthquake. She is remembered as a joyful servant of the poor. Additionally, the Daughters of Charity Provincial House and other houses in the area were destroyed and, like so many homeless Haitians, the Sisters have been sleeping in tents.

Despite this loss, the Daughters are focused on helping those who are most in need – those who are injured and have suffered dramatically.  To do so is in keeping with St. Vincent de Paul’s vision that the Daughters of Charity should “ease suffering wherever they find it."

The Haitian people will continue to need help in the coming weeks, months and even years ahead. For this reason, the Daughters of Charity provinces continue to mobilize help.  Assistance Teams of Sisters who are nurses are being organized for three-month rotations in Haiti. 

In late January, an Assistance Team comprised of four Sisters from Great Britain and Albany, New York, arrived in Port-au-Prince. Sister Martha Barlai-Kovach, one of the American Sisters, knows Creole and has spent eleven years in Haiti. Sister Michelle Loisel, another American Sister, is a nurse who knows French and Spanish and is experienced in Crisis Ministry. In February, these Sisters will be joined by another ten Sisters from around the world.

Your support is still needed

Columbia St. Mary's Daughters of Charity ease suffering in Haiti All gifts given for Haiti Disaster Relief to the Seton Institute – the international outreach arm of Ascension Health – will support the Daughters’ work. To date, the Seton Institute has received $200,000 in donations and pledges. With this money, the Institute was able to acquire necessary medical supplies at wholesale costs. The retail value of the medicines provided so far is about $2 million.

Your gift is tax deductible and 100% of the gift will benefit the disaster relief in Haiti.

To make your gift, simply do one of the following:

  • Visit www.setoninstitute.org to make a gift online.

  • Alternatively, send checks, payable to Seton Institute, directly to:

USPS:                   Seton Institute
                             Attn:  Haiti Disaster Relief
                             P.O. Box 140182
                             St. Louis, MO  63114
                             www.setoninstitute.org 

The Seton Institute web site states of the Daughters’ work, “Because these Sisters are from the community in crisis – they live there, eat there, sleep there and serve there – our work is only finished when they tell us it’s finished. That means long-term rehabilitation is as important to us as immediate response, relief and recovery.”

Thank you in advance for your support of these relief efforts and your continued commitment to our mission to serve all with special attention to those persons who are poor and vulnerable.

CSM physician treats the wounded in Haiti

CSM physician treats the wounded in Haiti

There are many others who are helping in this time of great need, including Dr. Jeff Cameron, a Columbia St. Mary's Foundation board member.

Dr. Cameron’s recent trip to Haiti was far different from his previous ten visits.  When the earthquake hit, this Milwaukee rehabilitation and wound care specialist says, “I knew I had to be in Haiti.”  After reaching out to several aid and relief organizations, one, Project Medishare, told him if he could be in Miami by 7 a.m. the next day, they could use him at their make-shift airport hospital in Port-au-Prince.  He hastily packed the basic necessities, including enough trail mix to last him several days.

During his previous visits to Haiti as a volunteer to the organization “Healing Hands for Haiti,” Dr. Cameron, who today is the director of Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Institute in Milwaukee, helped train Haitians in rehabilitation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, prosthetics and more.  In fact, he had a team scheduled to work at a Haitian orphanage just days after the earthquake, a journey that had to be cancelled.  Through these trips and his own studies in Milwaukee, Dr. Cameron picked up quite a bit of the Creole language, which proved highly useful during his post-earthquake trip.

As one of the only wound care physicians at the Medishare airport hospital, Dr. Cameron estimates he treated about 50 people a day over his 5-day stay. He was impressed with the level of care the medical volunteers were able to provide, despite the absence of general anesthesia and a cast saw.  Food, water and many medical supplies were surprisingly plentiful for the patients and volunteers, but they were kept under tight security by armed guards to prevent looting. His greatest concern was for patients once they were discharged.  “In the hospital, there were resources for patients and families.  Once they left, few had anywhere to go.  No home.  No food.  No water,” he says.

Dr. Cameron was especially moved by heartbreaking interactions of people who came to the hospital clutching photos and searching for lost family members.

He will return to Haiti in February and offer his services again.

All photographs featured in this article were taken by Dr. Jeff Cameron on his recent trip to Haiti.

 

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