Frontlines attract Jesuits to Haiti

By 
  • January 25, 2010
{mosimage}Jesuit novices Edmund Lo and Artur Suski of Toronto arrived in Haiti early in the new year to further their formation with a five-month teaching assignment. But after narrowly escaping injury in the Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake they have instead found themselves in the midst of a huge humanitarian relief operation.

“The Jesuits here, in collaboration with the Jesuits from the Dominican Republic, had been spearheading a relief effort, and this is what Artur and I will be doing for the near future,” Lo said through e-mail.

Working in conjunction with Catholic Relief Services and Caritas, the Jesuits sent 700 tons of supplies by truck and air from the Dominican Republic Jesuit centres to the devastated region. Lo and Suski were responsible for helping to distribute the supplies, including water, non-perishable food, hygiene products and medicine.

“We have also brought in three out of four Jesuits from northern Haiti to help at the four locations where we are distributing supplies,” said Fr. Pierre Belanger, S.J., in french, from his office in the Jesuits’ French-Canada province. “The Jesuit Refugee Services in the Dominican Republic has taken a certain position of leadership and is organizing themselves as a sort of centre for buying and moving what is necessary.”

Lo said the Jesuits were coping well and fortunately didn’t have any casualties. He said three of their neighbours’ houses completely collapsed during the quake and all they could hear were screams of agony and panic.

“We then helped to care for the wounded as much as we could, and there were lots of them,” he said. “Apart from the first 10 minutes, I felt quite at peace actually, not traumatized at all, by the Grace of God. I wanted to go out and help more than anything.”

Both novices plan to stay for the entire five months.

Donations to support the Jesuit efforts can be made online at www.canadianjesuitsinternational.ca or by calling 1-800-448-2148. Cheques can be made out to Canadian Jesuits International, and marked as “Haiti Earthquake Relief” to Canadian Jesuits International, 70 Saint Mary Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 1J3.

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