Your Haitian Station
Just as the seasons bring about a continuous cycle of death and re-birth, our own lives are filled with endings and new beginnings. While change is an inevitable part of our lives, often it brings about both joys and difficulties. Over the past five months, Hospice Saint Joseph has been undergoing many changes. Of course the biggest change has been saying good-bye to Sister Ann Weller, CSJ, the director of HSJ since 1989. While it would be impossible to summarize all that Sè Ann has done here through the years, we can say that we all have learned from the examples of love, compassion, dedication, and faith she has shown us.
While we said good-bye to Sè Ann, we excitedly welcomed Sè Ellen Flynn, RSM, back to HSJ after her one year sabbatical in the United States. Sè Ellen has taken over as director of HSJ with refreshed mind, body, and spirit. Her previous 8 years of experience in Haiti, abounding energy, and love for the Haitian people surely will guide Hospice through many more years of success!
Also, during September and October Hospice enjoyed the service of Amy Battle, a young woman from Scranton, PA, who assisted in many projects including this newsletter.
Through all of these transitions, we here at Hospice Saint Joseph have been reflecting on times gone by, praying for strength and wisdom through all of the changes, and hoping for a future filled with the same blessings that have carried us through the past 12 years!
"Nou Pap Bliye Ou!": Sè Ellen reflects on saying Good-Bye to Sister Ann Weller
Bright and early on the morning of October 15, 2001, members of the HSJ staff piled into two trucks headed for Port-au-Prince International Airport. Everyone wanted to take part in a glorious send off for Sè Ann! With a mixture of smiles and tears, Sè Ann prepared to leave her beloved Haiti that Monday morning. Later that morning, on the third floor balcony of Hospice, from which you see an awe-inspiring view of Port-au-Prince, we all watched as Ann's plane departed over the mountains. With our own tears and smiles, we waved one final good-bye, saying, "Nou pap bliye ou, Sè Ann!"... "We won't forget you, Sr. Ann!"
Sè Ann has been the spirit force behind HSJ since the very beginning. One could see her running up and down the stairs many times everyday responding to the needs of community members at our gate, enjoying the company of neighborhood children in our yard, or taking care of the sick who came to Hospice from the countryside. Ann could also be counted on for driving someone to the hospital whenever necessary, even in the middle of the night! But what is most memorable about Sè Ann is her passion for justice for all Haitian people. This passion is especially visible in the work she did in Haiti during the coup d'état, 1991-1994. No one will ever forget her courageous decision to aid Haitian refugees seeking political asylum by housing them at HSJ. And on top of all the work she did, she would always tell the story of Haiti to our visitors without missing a beat!
With Sè Ann as our driving force for many years, Hospice has become a place of prayer for the broken and discouraged, a gathering place for all to share concerns, a power house of prayer for Haiti and for all places in the world where people suffer from injustice.
As a tribute to her and the spirit with which she so faithfully served Haiti, we wrote a creed to describe what we see as the Hospice Saint Joseph Sè Ann has entrusted in our hands. This creed will be said following Mass at Hospice Saint Joseph each Wednesday morning to keep the spirit of Ann alive in all of the work we do!
Thank you Sè Ann for all of the good work you have done!
Hospice Saint Joseph is a Christian Community committed to working side by side with our Haitian brothers and sisters to improve life in Haiti.
Hospice Saint Joseph does this by responding to the neighborhood's needs as best we can, especially through our Education Program and Medical Clinic.
Hospice Saint Joseph believes that we are all God's children. In love, God created us with our individual strengths and weaknesses.
Hospice Saint Joseph staff members join hands together using our strengths to reach our goals.
These four principles are the foundation of Hospice Saint Joseph:
Respect: We strive to treat each woman, man, and child with respect in our words and actions
Truth: We strive to conduct all actions honestly, honor each person's rights and reputation, and speak the truth at all times.
Justice: We strive to treat each person fairly so that no one person receives preferential treatment that would deprive other needy persons access to these same services.
Compassion: We strive to be a source of comfort and strength for each other in times of sickness, hardship, or sadness.
Just as the Haitian proverb says: With many hands, the load is not heavy.
Through a \$20,000 grant provided by the Conrad N. Hilton for Sisters Fund, we have initiated a program to address the needs of patients with HIV/AIDS. This grant money is being used to cover the costs of medication, hospice care, and medical staff. Since our HIV/AIDS program is still considerably limited in relation to the immense needs of HIV/AIDS patients here in Haiti, we currently are seeking ways to expand the services we are able to offer.
Dr. Marie C. Francois and Dr. Willy Phillias continue to see patients at our primary care clinic and dispensary, which is open five days per week to help meet the medical needs of our neighborhood! Because we subsidize costs through donations received, \$4 Haitian still covers patient costs. According to the current exchange rate, this is equivalent to less than $1 U.S.
Housing for the Sick Program:
With our newly expanded area for housing the sick who travel from the countryside to Port-au-Prince for much needed medical attention, we are able to house up to ten patients. We have been very busy trying to keep up with the demand for our services of room and board, prescriptions, medical tests, and transportation for patients.
Stefanie, a three year old girl from Las Cahobas, has been staying with us while being treated for TB. She lights up the room with her smiles and songs. Stefanie's aunt, Chantal, who is here as caregiver became a patient herself when she had to have a biopsy on a lump in her breast. Fortunately, there was no cancer. However, Chantal does have TB and we had to send for all who live together to be tested. There are ten of them, including mom, dad, another aunt, and cousins. They are a darling family (ages 3 months to eleven years) who relate so well together. Once we get them on the medication, they will leave.
In early October, Suzena, a one year old girl referred to us from Hospital Albert Schweitzer, traveled to Indiana for heart surgery. Her pregnant mom who accompanied her,startled everyone with the early birth of her son while there. All three are doing well and will return shortly.
Most schools throughout Haiti opened their doors on September 3, 2001. The purpose of our Education Fund is to provide the financial means necessary for children who otherwise would not have the opportunity to attend school. Through the generosity of our donors, we are sponsoring 150 children this year, 95 elementary and 55 high school. Students in our program visited HSJ on October 6th to have their school photos taken. The students love to have their photos taken and they were excited to have one copy for their parents and one for their sponsors! The children will visit us again in December to write letters for their sponsors. This will be the first of three letters the students write to update their sponsors on their progress this school year.
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington DC, some groups who planned to visit us were forced to cancel their trips. While we were disappointed about these cancellations, we have had the good fortune of hosting other groups or individuals from across the United States , including Denville, NJ; Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PA; Seattle, WA; Bothell, WA; Rockville, MD; Portland, OR; Atlanta, GA; Salisbury, MD and Hyatsville, MD. We hope all visitors have had the opportunity to share their experiences and stories of Haiti with others since they returned home!
During their stays with us, visitors learn much about and from the Haitian culture, which is rooted in the good God and Voodou traditions. As a means of getting in touch with the richness of the Haitian culture and people, Hospice is offering a one week group immersion experience that would include speakers, trips to cultural and historic sites, journaling, and encounters with the Haitian people. Let us know if you would like to hear more about this!
Ti Machann Program:
This program continues to assist women in small commerce and housing.
Haiti's Struggle for Justice and Democracy: A Call for Solidarity
By now "Haiti" has become synonymous with "The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere." While there is no denying that Haiti is a country of massive poverty, if this is the only image people have, they cannot ever fully understand Haiti or the spirit of the Haitian people. Yes, on one hand, the Haitian people historically have been plagued with violence and political oppression. On the other hand, the Haitian people have incredible endurance, creativity, hope, and faith. They struggle to survive day after day, yet they also continue to fight for the systemic change. While lasting change entails a long, sometimes slow process, it is important to remember the strides that have already been made toward democracy and justice in Haiti. Consider the following events: In August, 2000, the Carrefour Feuilles trial successfully prosecuted police officers involved in the execution of civilians in a 1999 attack in Carrefour Feuilles. In November, 2000, the Raboteau trial successfully prosecuted more than 50 defendants for their involvement in the 1994 Raboteau Massacre. In November, 2000, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was democratically re-elected president and was inaugurated on February 7, 2001; September 30, 2001 marked the tenth anniversary of the three year coup d'etat (1991-1994) that disrupted the newly forming democracy under then President Aristide, Haiti's first democratically elected president. A memorial prayer service was held at Champ Mars to commemorate this event.
Despite making these strides, the Haitian government still faces enormous national and international pressure to hasten much needed systemic change. The Haitian people are struggling with an economic crisis that makes it difficult for them to meet even their most basic needs. At a time like this, it is especially important for all friends of Haiti to unite and work in solidarity with the Haitian people.
At the root of all of Hospice's work is our dedication to working for dignity, respect, and justice for all Haitians. We not only try to help ease some of the suffering we witness on a daily basis though our various programs, but also believe in supporting the broader efforts being made for systemic change in Haiti.
To continue doing this, though, we must call on you, the international friends of Haiti and Hospice Saint Joseph, to join in solidarity with us. Knowing that commitments you have in your own communities are great, we ask that you join us in any way possible, from a monetary donation to support our programs, to a visit to HSJ where you will have the opportunity to experience first-hand the reality of Haiti and better understand Haiti, as much more than "The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere."
In a country where massacres, coup d'états, and gross violence fill the pages of its history, sympathy expressed for the terrorist attacks on the U.S. meant much more to us. These Haitians, who have buried so many of their loved ones through savage attacks, know what deep pain feels like. In compassion and love, they have opened their hearts to us Americans.
The effects of this tragedy will continue to surface and spread beyond the tremendous loss of lives and buildings on that day to a change of course in our lives. From the more positive impact of bringing us together and evoking expressions of love and feelings and display of loyalty and national pride to the negative ones of job losses, companies folding, fear and panic directing us and thirst for retaliation.
We pray that we may learn from those who know about suffering and who turn to God in all their troubles.
teach us to laugh
and smile again;
but please, never
let us forget
that we cried.
- Haitian Proverb
Hospice St. Joseph
P.O. Box 407139
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33340