News from Jacmel
News from Jacmel
Jacmel ( Haiti ). “I have just returned from the city of Jacmel in Haiti where we have a community of 7 Sisters, three of whom are temporary professed. Because it was impossible to arrive there by land, because due to the earthquake this city is cut off from communications , I succeeded in getting there by sea.” The person writing is Sr. Elizabeth Corsino, animator of the Barahona community in the Dominican Republic . The urgency to go to Jacmel surfaced because of the second aftershock of January 18th that measured 6.5 on the Richter and had its epicenter in this city. This increased the preoccupation and given the impossibility of communicating by phone, the FMA of the Antilles Province thought it best to go.
“On Wednesday, the 20th” writes Sr. Elizabeth, “I went to Pedernales, the city closest to the port of Cabo Rojo from where the Dominican naval ships were leaving for the Port of Jacmel . At Pedernales I stayed with the Mercederian Sisters of Charity with whom we have a good relationship because of our belonging to the same diocese. I left on Wednesday afternoon after having made a first contact in the hope of being able to leave on Thursday morning, the day on with the feast of Our Lady of Altagrazia was celebrated. This is a very important feast for the Haitian people. Together with a group of North American doctors, volunteers from diverse NGOs who work in the area, and the crew of the ship, I was able to leave on the 21st at 11:30 in the morning Dominican time. We arrived at 4 in the afternoon Haiti time at the Port of Jacmel . Bishop Jean Theodule Domond Apostolic administrator who lives near our Sisters and who hadbeen in contact with our pastor about the time of my arrival, was at the port to meet me. The Sisters did not expect my visit and therefore you can imagine their surprise when they saw me arrive accompanied by their own Bishop! In addition to greeting all, I brought to the Sisters Mother's letter of January 16th and some photocopied messages and articles that had been published on our web site.
The FMA are well. Luckily, the physical structure of the Sister's house, like that of the school, did not suffer damage, notwithstanding the quakes. That night while I was sleeping there was a strong aftershock that awakened us and frightened all. Even though the house seems to be in good condition, the Sisters sleep outside in tents for security reasons. I had the experience of doing the same, and of experiencing the anguish of that strong movement and the terrifying noise that the shocks produce. A group of doctors from the United States who work in the hospitals during the day as volunteers return to the courtyard of the Sisters at night to rest. There are also other families who are with them in the yard during the night.
They have water, but drinking water must come from Santo Domingo . From the 21st they have had electricity, but the hours of service are minimum. Fuel can still be found in the city. There is not the level of contamination that is found in Port-au-Prince , nor the stench of the city. Even though there are many destroyed building, there are some still standing, but these cannot be used for security reasons. There are no bodies on the streets, but they are still digging in the rubble, especially under the University that collapsed, where there were many students who worked by day and went to evening/night classes.
I brought what I thought would be necessary, but by going personally I was able to see exactly what they needed, for example, specific medicines.
I was able to visit the Sisters of other Congregations, at the request of the Sisters who are close to our own. They were very kind with me and made known their needs so that I could be their spokesperson.”
Sr. Elizabeth was out of her home for three days, traveling many hours by boat. Her account of this experience which is on the personal level concludes: “Our Sisters are very grateful to Mother Yvonne and all the Sisters of the world. When they read Mother's letter in French. They were moved and happy, and I told myself that it was worth the trouble of taking that trip. They could not believe that I had arrived by ship and understood that all the FMA were there with me, close to them Their joy was indeed great.”