Teresa González testimonial

González describes the relief efforts being organized by the Catholic Church in Miami

Email to Margarita Mooney from Teresa González, Director of Amor en Acción (Love in Action) a lay missionary group in the Archdiocese of Miami that has been sending groups of people to Haiti for the last 20 years. In 2002, Mooney accompanied one of their groups to Port-de-Paix in the Northwest of Haiti for part of her time there. On Wednesday, February 3rd, Mooney asked González to comment on the relief efforts being organized by the Catholic Church in Miami. Below is her reply. Mooney added some clarifications in [brackets].

Margarita,

Ok. Roughly….We partnered with Notre Dame d' Haiti [the Haitian Catholic Mission of Miami where Mooney did her fieldwork] and so we have seen so much that has been done there.

Notre Dame has daily volunteers organized and packing huge collections of food and medical [supplies] arriving every day since the earthquake hit. They have also received support from the local high schools like Belen, La Salle, and St. Brendan’s, who have in some cases bused the kids during school hours to help pack and load containers. It has been a truly interesting collaboration across cultural lines.

Notre Dame has organized two medical teams that we helped with. That has been extremely difficult to do given the super difficult logistics concerning the U.S. Southern Command clearance for airplanes [arriving in Port-au-Prince] and then there is all the ground work in Haiti. They [the medical teams] include mostly Haitian doctors and nurses.

The Haitian churches are all working on some activity of collection. The Haitian priests [in Miami] are traveling back and forth to Port-au-Prince. Right now, Fr. Reggie [Reginald Jean-Mary] and Monsignor Jean Pierre are there continuing to push forward the logistics on the ground.

The Daughters of Charity [an international Catholic women’s religious order] have, I think, 30 or 40 sisters in Haiti, working in Port-au-Prince and other locations affected by the earthquake, and are currently sending supplies via plane that we are doing our best to help with.

There is awareness in all that this will be a long term project. Many parishes are understanding Haiti in a new way, seeing the need as we do to reinforce to the people of the Haitian northwest with whatever aid we can muster, since they too are receiving countless refugees in an already difficult and hungry region. [Amor en Acción has traditionally focused much of its efforts in Port-de-Paix, the northwest region of Haiti].

Haitian people all over the community [in Miami] are volunteering individually in the efforts to welcome and receive Haitian children from orphanages. These children were previously in pre-adoptive status whose adoptions have been sped up and the process is being done with the children landing and having to be housed in local welcoming facilities like His House Children’s Home. They are out there in every way welcoming their own, reaching out to their country, with enormous faith and momentum. In every institution where they might be found, they [Haitian-Americans] are leading collections, sharing their story and giving their time and treasure.

Everywhere the response is great. The collaboration of diverse cultural groups with the Haitian community here is a sign of solidarity that I find transforming and a recovery of the roots of our community's character. I am proud of who we are, even if I am saddened that it takes an earthquake for us to realize it.

Here in the Archdiocese of Miami, we are very culturally diverse, so we do not always know each other as well as we should. Now we have been pushed to look each other in new ways. It is important that this lesson not go to waste. For we have only come to know each other better as a result of the great suffering of the Haitian people. We can only do them justice by living a life that never forgets God’s enduring hope belongs to all and as the Haitian people continue to say: Bondye Bon! [God is good].

I realize this is disjointed as I am without sleep from spending the night with 14 children who arrived last night, soon to be reunited with parents that have been waiting for years. God is good for giving me that opportunity.

Love,

Tery

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