“Disaster occurs not in the face of the disaster, but in the defeated response of the participants.”
This bold and challenging statement appears on the website of the CRUDEM Foundation (www.crudem.org) which supports the Hopital Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart Hospital) in Haiti.
Any of you who are burdened, temporarily or otherwise, with an enervated spirit or a sense of purposelessness would find a boost in this oasis of hope in its desert of desperation.
Milot is a small town in northern Haiti just miles from Cap-Haitien. As everyone knows from the press coverage of its devastating earthquake two years ago, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Ten percent of children die before the age of two. Fewer than half the people are literate and very few have access to electricity or potable water. Far more than half the population is unemployed and the material poverty is unimaginable. In this setting, over 40 years ago, the Sacred Heart Brothers, under the direction of Brother Yves Beausejour, launched project CRUDEM, the Center for the Rural Development of Milot. CRUDEM’s logo, designed by Brother Yves, captures its rallying spirit. It is a rooster crowing “Wake up, Milot!”
Twenty five years ago, CRUDEM established the Hopital Sacre Coeur in Milot. This medical and teaching facility now staffs over 100 doctors and nurses (all Haitian) and cares for more than 3,000 in-patients and more than 60,000 out-patients each year. What began as a small “jungle” clinic with 25 beds now boasts three times that number along with a pediatric wing, a specialty outpatient clinic and a modern laboratory. Its Nutrition Center provides daily meals to pre-school children and its Mobile Clinic travels to rural villages within a 12 mile radius to serve more than 225,000 people.
As its website eloquently puts it: “A strong commitment to collaboration with the residents of Milot, a firm faith in the limitless sustenance of a loving God, and a spirit of pro-active Christian compassion undergird the transition of this jungle outpost. This tiny hospital … challenged the daunting tempest of environmental, political and social threats that hovered about with an audacity reminiscent of David’s fight against Goliath.”
Hopital Sacre Coeur is supported by, among others, the Order of Malta and the Catholic Medical Mission Board. Its mission statement reflects this: “Rooted in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, the mission of Hopital Sacre Coeur is to be both a Catholic hospital and medical center, consistent with the ideals of the Order of Malta, providing quality healthcare to the sick and the poor in the Haitian community, and an educational center for all who serve healthcare in Haiti.”
Each year over 100 volunteers, professional and otherwise, travel to Milot at their own expense to provide hands-on assistance. You can be sure they come away with a vibrant sense of purpose. Milot gave them their own ‘wake-up call.’