In January 2009, two Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SND) went to Haiti to begin a new ministry. Invited by the Bishop of Les Cayes, they responded to needs articulated by the people and the Church. At present, Sr. Jeannette Pierre-Louis ministers in Les Cayes. Other SNDs and Associates join her periodically to help with pastoral care for Haitian people.
Sr. Jeannette describes her ministry in Haiti.
Hardly had our new ministry of outreach begun when an enormous earthquake in January 2010 racked serious devastation, causing thousands of deaths and injuries. Earthquake aftershocks and tornadoes brought more pain, squalor, destruction, injury and thousands of deaths. Many left without homes, food, and water became refugees in our city. This natural disaster delayed somewhat our SND dreams for a family education center in Haiti. We reached out to the people in providing food, clothing, medical assistance and pastoral care.
Mission in Haiti
Les Cayes in South Haiti has 140,000 people. La Savane is one of the city’s 12 slums, where adults and children suffer from hunger, malnutrition, diseases and homelessness. The literacy rate especially among women is very low. Most children do not go to school. Even where there are schools, parents do not have money to pay for the tuition or uniforms.
SNDs are responding with mind and heart to a participative program for 100 women at the Family Education Center. We reach 522 more people in the households of these women. These extended families benefit from food assistance, health care, dental aid and pastoral support at the Centre. We are working to build a refuge from the storms, poverty, corruption and their moral effects in Haitian society.
Pastoral Support for Women
A coordinating team of religious and laity has organized opportunities for personal development of women, for their spiritual, professional and cultural growth. We are teaching women skills for responding to critical life situations and for using their giftedness. They are gradually growing in self-esteem as they learn floral design, make quilts, and market the sale of their work.
The women become personally convinced that God is really good to them and in them. They have the support and power to bring change into their own lives. In finding a means to generate income, they become self-sufficient and are able to provide money for their family needs. Investing in their families, they find dignity within themselves. They find ways also to restore hope in others. Our ministry raises them up and strengthens the courage of a people still mourning tragic losses. The support they receive gives joy and uplifts the heart and spirit of these women and their families.