Cholera, redux

Cholera bacteria

The word “cholera” has an antiquated ring to it, like “leprosy” or “smallpox.” These are all diseases that we’d like to think are part of the past, eliminated by superior science and modern hygiene, and relegated to the history books.

In Haiti, cholera is the present, the latest disaster to befall the island nation since the January 12 earthquake that devastated its infrastructure and killed an estimated 300,000 people.

Tens of thousands are still living in close quarters in tent camps with primitive sanitation, the perfect places for cholera to take hold. As of Saturday, 200 were dead; 2,000 more were sick, and the disease was closing in on the capital of Port-au-Prince, where millions are at risk.

Cholera is extremely contagious, spreading through contaminated water and by exposure to the bodily fluids of the infected, killing by dehydration. Those who are malnourished or who have weakened immune systems, along with the very young and the very old, are most susceptible.

Despite all the pledges of Haiti’s government and other nations, including the United States, aid has been slow to arrive. Private charities are doing what they can, but the need far outstrips the available supplies.

Episcopal Relief & Development has been active in Haiti for many years, and now is devoting most of its resources in the region to helping those affected by the earthquake. The people of Haiti need our prayers; they also need our material assistance. If you can help, there’s no time like the present to do so.

– Sarah Bryan Miller

Haiti, continued

The Sisters of St. Margaret are staying put.

The Episcopal Church has been active in Haiti since 1861; the Boston-based Society of St. Margaret established their convent in Port-au-Prince in 1927. Theirs is a hands-on ministry to the poor: a scholarship program for poor children, directing the making of embroidered church linens, and Foyer Notre Dame, a haven for the indigent and elderly. They work with Episcopal clergy and parishioners throughout the Diocese of Haiti.

It was several days after the earthquake before the home team in Boston heard with certainty of the safety of the Sisters – Sister Marie Margaret, Sister Marie Therese, Sister Marjorie Raphael, a quartet of pre-postulants and their charges. The Couvent Sainte Marguerite, like the adjacent Cathédrale Sainte Trinité (Holy Trinity Cathedral) in Port-au-Prince – like, indeed, most of the churches and schools in the Diocese – was largely destroyed. The Foyer Notre Dame is only partially collapsed, but will have to be demolished.

Although Haiti is, as Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin told The Wall Street Journal, “a diocese that is physically destroyed,” the work of the Church goes on. Bishop Duracin, the sisters and others are tending to a refugee camp on what used to be a soccer field, feeding them from the stores for a school cafeteria.

But supplies are running out. There is almost no food; everything is in painfully short supply. Our help is needed. You can read more here about the Sisters of St. Margaret and their work on their website – and make a donation to their work.

You can also give through Episcopal Relief & Development.

To learn more about the Church’s work in Haiti, read the Wall Street Journal article and watch an interview with Bishop Duracin: \”A diocese physically destroyed\”

– sbm

A Prayer for Haiti:
Almighty Father, God of mercies and giver of comfort, deal graciously, we pray, with the people of Haiti in the midst of the great suffering caused by the catastrophic earthquake. May they cast all their care on you and know the consolation of your love.

Give us the courage, zeal, wisdom and patience to assist them, not only in these first days and weeks of urgent need, but as they continue to need the care and partnership of all their sisters and brothers around the world in the long and difficult work of healing and rebuilding.

Grant eternal life to those who have died, healing to the injured and strength to all the survivors, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

– the Ven. Dr. J. Fritz Bazin, Archdeacon for Immigration and Social Concerns Diocese of Southeast Florida

The earthquake in Haiti: Help ER-D to help

In Haiti, troubles build on troubles. Poverty and corruption beset this Caribbean island nation of nine million inhabitants; they exacerbate the effects of the natural disasters that strike with disturbing frequency.

By now, you’ve heard about the devastating earthquake that hit the capitol, Port-au-Prince, yesterday at 5 p.m. local time. Thousands are dead; thousands more are missing, and feared dead. The final toll could rise still more, as disease and exposure take their effect.

Episcopal Relief & Development is a constant presence in Haiti, helping the people there to fight disease and become stronger economically. Right now, ER&D is combating a catastrophe.

ER&D makes good use of our donations – and today they need them more than ever. Please help them help those in need.

— sbm