"Wake up, Milot!"

“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.’

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  1. Thank you, Dana, for the herculean task you are undertaking here.I am sure that a plane load of spectators landing in Haiti would be shocked into immediately sharing their last dollar with these Haitians. When I visited their neighbors in the Dominican Republic yrs. back, I found conditions unfathomable, and was told that it was far worse in Haiti. Children could not walk bare-footed into town because they had no clothes. Bushes formed boundaries with old wires and boards strung together ,creating their territories. Stars were their coverlets at night. At noon, a truck approached main street, and suddenly a line-up of raised arms held up a small bowl as people waited their turn for a small ladle of food from the old, tall milk can.You are God’s gift to His loved people!

  2. Most who have gone to Haiti (with all its pain and poverty), even if only just briefly, will, no doubt, realize immediately the truth of Dana’s piece. Her thoughts have surfaced for me some corollaries on the subject of the Church and seemingly endless human suffering.
    The tragedy which Haiti uncovers is not that earthquakes wield massive distruction – so do hurricanes, floods, and wars! The tragedy is that we are – after a spurt of largesse – too frequently not up to the task of confronting our personal lack of staying power that usually takes one of two forms: the “I’ve got mine and you ain’t gettin’ it” mentality seeps back in, or simply the defeatism of “we’ve done what we can…” bubbles to the surface. Our immediate sense of helpfulness, our expressions (in many ways) of pity and concern in the early days after a disaster seem unsustainable. And, while heroic organizations and individuals (like those working in Milot) soldier on fighting the good fights year in and year out (AND in many cases making real and sustainable headway), too many of us “pew Catholics” retreat to the sidelines or look in other directions too-early-weeried by the emmense challenges which systemic problems perpetually pose. It is for the Church to name this kind of destructive ennui for what it is. Sin.
    We are not allowed to be hopeless, uncaring, inactive. We are also not allowed to be selfish, chauvinistic, self-serving. We are a billion strong whose ranks are, capable of addressing, with virtually limitless gifts of every kind, any challenge that life on earth poses. The Church must continue to be the relentless voice challenging ITSELF (ALL our members) to be a light to the nations by demanding that we be generous, dedicated, and imaginative believers. We must be like those who are “saving” Milot”, geuine and effective “beacons on th hills”– beacons with staying power. We must never tire, never quit, never waver, though storms may come and rivers may flood and wars may rage. We must remain a Church which never allows itself to succomb to the temptation to be defeatist. And when we do, we must lift each other up and move on. That’s what grace is for and there is no limit to grace. So many Church agencies and organizations are effective and “long-haul” oriented. But the rest of us are called just as surely not only to give support to these marvelous associations but to examine our own lives to find ways by which we can become ever-clearer signs of hope and instruments healing and justice to a world too often found to be locked in endless suffering.

  3. There are a number of notable medical facilities scattered about Haiti each apparently independent of the others, often ignorant of the others’ existence, and often wholly reliant on “foreign” aid from one or more sources (usually the funding source(s) which established the facility). At the same time, a number of them claim Haitian staff, which suggests that there is at least some coordination with Haitian authorities. Is/are there available for inspection (a) coordinated plan(s) for the provision of medical assistance to the people of Haiti?…..or at least a consolidated list of medcal facilities with some description of available staff and services at each?…….if so, where might I consult such plan(s)?…Thank you…..Tony Imhof

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