In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, many messages from the project partners of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in Haiti have reached the international headquarters of the Pontifical Foundation in recent days. They express solidarity, encouragement in prayer, thankfulness: Touching expressions from our brothers and sisters who live in a country that has suffered politically, economically and health-wise.
There have been waves of support in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic. Many brothers and sisters in Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere where ACN supports many projects , have not hesitated, in recent weeks, to testify to their touching proximity to the Pontifical Foundation family , including their benefactors, most of whom live in countries where the pandemic is raging.
Haiti, Citte Soleil.
“As a pastor, I am sending you this message to tell you we are thinking of all benefactors,” says Father Benedik Lazar of the parish of Saint Jean-Baptiste in the commune of Jean-Rabel, in the north-west of the island. He adds: “Faced with this situation, you can rely on the prayers of the clergy and all the faithful of the parish (…). Because our God is great”.
Father Jacques Volcius, director of Caritas Hinche (in the center of the country) also assured the ACN teams of “humble prayers during this difficult time dominated by the global coronavirus pandemic”. He calls for caution. A similar sentiment has been expressed by Mgr Glandas Toussaint, bishop of Jacmel in the south-east of Haiti, who in spite of their hardships wishes the ACN teams “fruitful work” and prays “for humanity.”
Similarly, Father Pognon P. Jacques of the Diocese of Hinche, Father Luxo Louis, Diocesan Director of Youth Pastoral Work in the town of Jeremie in the west of the island, Father Deus Ketnet, parish priest of Saint-Sauveur de Bail-Tourible (in the center), and the parish priest of the Sacred Heart of Gattereau in Gonaïves (in the north) express their solidarity and daily prayers “despite the precariousness and vulnerability” they themselves endure. The parish of the Sacred Heart of Gattereau thanks the benefactors « once again for [their] precious donations.”
“Europe has helped Haiti a lot,” said Father Junior Dalestin, parish priest of Our Lady of Sorrows in Lombard. But he also asks ACN to pray for them: “Because we live with a lot of fear and worry. We have no structure to deal with this pandemic”. The health system accounts for only 4% of the national budget and also the country faces considerable challenges in the drinking water and sanitation sector; primary conditions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
As of 1 April, 16 cases of Covid-19 contamination have been confirmed in Haiti, including one recovery. Meanwhile, like schools, universities, or public spaces, churches have closed. Father Sandley Maximé, parish priest of the Parish of Our Lady of perpetual help in Dupity, explains that all the activities had to be “stopped”.
If the coronavirus epidemic were to spread further, it would undoubtedly worsen the situation in a country already destabilized by lasting political instability. Haiti experienced a terrible crisis between September and December 2019. Due to political instability, the country completely ground to a halt, even the national catholic priests seminar had to close. A dramatic experience. Furthermore, Haiti is plagued by high levels of corruption and has to deal with a depressed economy with 54% of the population living below the poverty line of $ 2.41 a day, according to World Bank data. Mgr Jean Désinord, bishop of Hinche in Haiti, told ACN last October that 80% unemployed.
It is in the light of this overall situation that the Catholic Church of Haiti launched, this past September 27th, an urgent call for political action addressed to the leaders of this island in the Antilles. “Now is the time for them to act to change life in Haiti. Tomorrow will be too late,” said the statement. And the coronavirus could be this “tomorrow”.
In this context, the signs of solidarity coming from the Church of Haiti to the rest of the world are impressive. Regina Lynch, head of the projects department of ACN International said: “We are very touched by the generosity of the Church in Haiti which, despite the many challenges it faces, always looks beyond its own problems in order to provide spiritual support to ACN and its benefactors. »