Notre Dame in Haiti, The Mission Continues

Jan 2, 2023 | News & Events

By Sr. Jeannette Pierre-Louis, SNDdeN and Sr. Maureen O’Brien, SNDdeN

Mariana Sanon awards certificates to students at the close of each program.

This is the story of brave women who responded to the after effects of a massive earthquake in August 2021. It is the story of Mariana Sanon, Sr. Jeannette’s successor at Notre Dame Family Education Center (NDFEC) in La Savane and the Center for Basic Education (CEBA) in St. Gerard’s Parish. It is an update on the dedicated teachers and staff of both centers. It is especially the story of the mothers of La Savane who advocated for the future of their children.

On August 14, 2021, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake destroyed the infrastructure of southwest Haiti. The epicenter was 23 miles away from Les Cayes/La Savane. La Savane, a large slum of 25,000 people, perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, experienced massive damage. Young children and elderly family members were relocated to tent shelters. Adults had to make do.

Gang violence, food insecurity, the rampant spread of cholera, closed schools, severely damaged homes and hospitals and an ineffective government hindered recovery.

Education continues in La Savane.

The mothers of La Savane contacted Mariana, to ask that she open the NDFEC. Their agenda: the education of their children, safety from marauding gangs who were trafficking young children and hopefully to provide a hot meal. Mariana and the teachers found one room at NDFEC that was structurally sound and re-opened the Center.

The day it opened 80 children came! Mariana bought food for the children and reached out to aid organizations for cholera tablets. She rented a house in St. Gerard’s parish for workshops so that the mothers of La Savane could continue to make and sell clothing and bakery goods to feed their families.

On December 11, 2020, Sr. Jeannette passed the torch to Mariana Sanon. Through Mariana, Notre Dame’s mission continues.