Salesian Missions Hard Hit by Haiti Earthquake, but Responding to Needs of Thousands

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International Education and Humanitarian Aid Organization Works to Measure its Losses, Provide Disaster Relief for Tens of Thousands, and Plan for the Future in Haiti

Salesian Missions is not only dedicated to the relief efforts, but will be instrumental in the rebuilding. Donations can be made by going to FindYourMission.org. Plans to rebuild the schools and other humanitarian programs are already underway.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (Vocus) January 26, 2010 -- Salesian Missions has been working in Haiti since 1936 and provided food to 25,000 children in Port-au-Prince before the earthquake in addition to the schools it operated for hundreds of children. The search for survivors has ended, but Salesian Missions is desperately working to and care for those who are homeless and suffering, with special attention to the 20,000 children in the area it already served. A vast Salesian Missions compound in the Cite Soleil (which consisted of schools, trade shops, housing, orphanages, youth centers, feeding programs and administrative offices) was almost completely destroyed. At least 250 and up to 500 students and staff were killed or buried in the rubble. Buildings destroyed includes those at ENAM, the renowned National School of Arts & Trades, were a vast majority of the deaths took place. A search and rescue team was sent to ENAM on Jan. 18, where 200 students were confirmed dead in that facility alone. Kitchens that fed 25,000 of the city’s poorest children daily have been affected. Even with the enormous losses and beyond-challenging circumstances, Salesian Missions is working hard to continue to provide for the children and families that already depended on them, in addition to so many others now in desperate need.

As of Jan. 25, 3,500 refugees are being housed by Salesian Missions in the limited number of our facilities which remain standing. Many people, including the children Salesian Missions cares for, are sleeping outside in the streets and in cars. An 11-truck convoy of supplies arrived Jan. 16 at the Salesian Missions compound and was distributed peacefully (photos available). Salesian Missions delivered 20,000 meals on Jan 21 and 300,000 water purification tablets on Jan. 24. Another convoy carrying food and supplies is scheduled to arrive Jan. 26 in Carrefour-Thorland and Pétion-Ville.

A relief fund has been created for Haiti and donations are being sent directly to purchase food, water, medical supplies, survival kits and tents for shelter. Donations are urgently sought for more supplies. Additionally, Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, traveled to Haiti Jan. 20, along with a photographer/videographer familiar with Salesian Missions works in Haiti. Salesian Missions is not only dedicated to the relief efforts, but will be instrumental in the rebuilding. Donations can be made by going to http://www.FindYourMission.org . Plans to rebuild the schools and other humanitarian programs are already underway.

At the time of the earthquake on Jan. 12, Salesian Missions estimates they served the following number of students/children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti:

Salesian Missions Little Schools program (primary school): 20,000 (approx.)

  • 136 children from the Little Schools program attended a special school for gifted students on the Cite Soleil campus

ENAM (National School of Arts & Trades): 1,400 (approx.)

  • short-term technical courses: 360
  • full time school (high school): 1,040

However, the number of pupils who were in the school at 4:53 p.m. on January 12 is unclear because on the streets you don’t count the numbers in the group. Here the youngsters had somewhere to go, and the possibility of hoping for a better future (getting away from the dangers of the streets, studying and learning a trade, as happens in Salesian Missions schools all over the world).

SALESIAN MISSIONS RELIEF EFFORTS IN HAITI -- DETAILS KNOWN TO DATE (as of Jan. 26, 2010)

Salesian Missions is desperately working to find any remaining survivors in our facilities and care for those who are homeless and suffering. Our latest details from Haiti include:

•The number of our students and personnel reportedly killed has increased to possibly 500 (officially we are reporting “at least 250 and up to 500 were killed or buried in the rubble”)
•This includes 250 students who were studying at the ENAM (the renowned National School of Arts & Trades) and were between the ages of 5-17 years old
•Many of those killed were our best and brightest young women and men studying to be teachers
•Nineteen people were killed at the “Little Schools” facility (headquarted at ENAM-LAKAY compound)
•The church and parish center of Cite Soleil have collapsed around children who received catechism
•Rescue teams worked to find people alive in the rubble through the first week after the earthquake. Salesian Missions has been in contact with UNDP who in turn has requested the UN body to assist in recovery efforts of the 200-500 bodies trapped/dead under the rubble at ENAM.
•The majority of our buildings are completely destroyed, including our vocational school, orphanage and the facility used for meetings and retreats.
•The number of pupils who were in the school at 4:53 p.m. on Jan. 12 is unclear because on the streets you don’t count the numbers in the group. Here the youngsters had somewhere to go, and the possibility of hoping for a better future: getting away from the dangers of the streets, studying and learning a trade, as happens in Salesian schools all over the world.
•In the Little Schools of Father Bohnen, the silence is deafening. The youngsters and Bro. Sanon, who lost his life with them, have been buried in a common grave near the school. Among the ruins, pages from exercise books drift in the warm breeze, chairs, colored pencils, school reports have been scattered among the dust and the rubble by the earthquake.
•3,500 refugees are being housed in the limited number of our facilities which remain standing
•Many people, including the children we care for, are sleeping outside in the streets and in cars
•We are developing emergency plans for the countless number of homeless who seek our help
•The 11-truck convoy with water, dry foods and emergency relief items reported in previous updates arrived well in PAP from La Vega, Dominican Republic last Saturday. The convoy was escorted by a Dominican Military detail. Pictures of this mission upon departure from La Vega and arrival in PAP will follow up via separate e-mail.
•Salesian Missions is attempting to send a container of rice, which has been re-routed due to the damage at the PAP port.
•Salesian Missions has water truck moving about the city offering its precious contents to the needy.
•Salesian Missions is sending about 1,500 rations Jan. 21. One of these can sustain a family for three days (20,000 meals).
•Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, is traveling to Haiti Jan. 20, along with a photographer/videographer familiar with Salesian Missions works in Haiti.
•A relief fund has been created for Haiti and donations are being sent directly to purchase food, water, medical supplies, survival kits and tents for shelter.
•The donated food stuffs and other relief items will be transported via road from Barahona to Jimani, DR (Dominican-Haiti southern most border), where the Salesians are currently looking for warehouse space for repacking of donated good into smaller family-size packages. Smaller packages will be then trucked to PAP.
•Cross International USA has confirmed that they are ready to ship within the next 2-3 days the first containers of food and emergency relief to the Dominican Republic for delivery in Haiti (includes includes dry food, rice, beans, cooking oil, personal hygiene kits, drinking water, blankets, and tarps).
•Salesian Missions has had a conference call with Visionlink, Inc., in order to put in an emergency relief database. The company has developed emergency communication systems for the Red Cross, various humanitarian aid organizations, and more than 200 pharmaceutical companies.
•Salesian Missions has secured 1 million water purification tablets. 300,000 were delivered to Port-au-Prince Jan. 24.
•The UN is providing medical care to refugees at the Salesian Missions location in Carrefour.
•Salesian Missions has purchased two trucks for delivery of aid in Haiti.
•Salesian Missions has assessed the needs of the children it serves, for the purposes of obtaining “schools in a box” to help bring a sense of normalcy to the children. It is estimated that 20,000 children will be served, which means they will need 500-600 schools in a box (purchased through UNICEF). Funds/donations are sought specifically for this purpose.
•In the midst of the despair, signs of hope can be seen faces of the children. Smiles can be seen in some of the photos emerging from Salesian Missions locations in Haiti – additionally, children are playing basketball and soccer, and receiving toys and other uplifting attention from the Salesians. (Photos available on the Picasa link provided).
•A second convoy of trucks with food and emergency relief items, including rice, beans, water, and dry fish, all procured in the Dominican Republic will leave La Vega bound for Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 2:00 a.m. Their destinations are Carrefour-Thorland and Pétion-Ville.

Additional information and donations available at http://www.FindYourMission.org.

ABOUT SALESIAN MISSIONS
Salesian Missions is headquartered in New Rochelle, NY. The mission of the U.S.-based nonprofit Catholic organization is to raise funds for its international programs that serve youth and families in poor communities around the globe. The Salesian missionaries are made up of priests, brothers and sisters, as well as laypeople – all dedicated to caring for poor children throughout the world in more than 130 countries, helping young people become self-sufficient by learning a trade that will help them gain employment. To date, more than 3 million youth have received services funded by Salesian Missions. These services and programs are provided to children regardless of race or religion. To date, more than 5 million Americans have contributed financially to this work. For more information, go to http://www.salesianmissions.org.

SALESIAN MISSIONS
2 LEFEVRE LANE, NEW ROCHELLE, NY 10801

MEDIA CONTACT:
Hannah Gregory
http://www.findyourmission.org

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