Aid for Haiti - Help Haitians help themselves

Sr. Helen, Fr. Nicholas and Sr. Eileen at Montfortan parish where they run workshops in shoemaking, a nutritional centre for pre-school kids as well as providing other educational and social services

The locals in the parish where Helen lives have to live in very difficult conditions without any local government support

Mass is at 6am each morning in the Montfortan church
The entrance to St. Louis de Monfort parish where Sr. Helen lives and works

View outside the community house

Photos from Partners in Progress

Dr. Rich Gosser's blog on Haiti and Helen's community

Sr. Helen Ryder, a native of Banagher, Co. Offaly has worked in Haiti for over 20 years. She works on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, surrounded by makeshift houses in 'cites' built by those too poor to afford good standard housing and surrounded by sweatshop factories where countless women work long hours churning out cheap clothes for the US market. They are based close to the airport, which is currently seeing one of the biggest humanitarian relief operations in recent history. From January to April, 2001, Helen was my host in Haiti, setting me up with various voluntary initiatives. Since then, she has remained a good friend and my key link to news on Haiti and the people I got to know.

Helen is a member of the La Sainte Union order of nuns which have run a very successful school in Banagher for over 150 years. Her work in Haiti is concentrated on being present to the every day concerns and needs of the community which she is a member of, tutoring in various subjects to aid the educational progress of those who want to develop their skills and gain unemployment while furthermore, she cooperates with Irish charities and business people interested in aiding a wide variety of projects that benefit the disadvantaged.

The LSU help run a kindergarten and primary school for disadvantaged kids in a Montfortan-run parish (30,000 people), opposite the warehouses of the US Food for the Poor agency. As yet, there is no information whether the school or community has experiences been damaged. What appears to be most urgent in the short term is food, water, medicine and skilled personnel who can deal with the pressing needs after such a humanitarian disaster.

What I would suggest is most important for the majority of us is to think more long-term and donate to small organisations or individuals who have been working on the ground for decades. They have the trust of their community and rather than doing everything for Haitian locals, then heading out of the country leaving them to fend for themselves, they will work hand in hand with locals so they can all rebuild their lives and communities.

Sr. Helen is one such individual. She is unlike charity organisations, in that she does not have any wage paid from your donation or even administrative fees. What you give in €uros will go directly to benefit those who most need it, either in gourdes (local currency) or items needed to help families reconstruct their houses, gain employment, return to education, etc.

One such individual is Marc Andre. Tall, handsome, clever and articulate, he has worked in both offices and sweatshop factories in Port-au-Prince, sugar plantations in the Dominican Republic and countless other jobs to keep himself and his family going. I kept in contact with him through the years and I just hope that he and his family are ok. Sr. Helen has been like a second mum to him over the past decade, helping him further his education, travel to seek employment, aid his sick family members. It is people like Marc Andre, who deserve so much but face so many obstacles to survive, that my home parish of Banagher have helped support over the years by raising money for Sr. Helen.

The LSU sisters in Banagher will gladly accept any donations for the people of Haiti and they will be sent directly to Sr Helen Ryder. Please send donations to Mary Kenny, LSU Sisters, Debrabant House, Cuba Avenue, Banagher, Co Offaly. Clearly mark 'FOR HAITI'. Sr. Mary can be contacted at 0579151319.

More related links:

Banagher nun (Sr. Helen Ryder) survives earthquake

Help Haitians Help Themselves (Facebook group for LSU in Haiti)

Athlone-based nun survives earhquake

Offal natives survive earthquake in Haiti

St. Rynaghs parish response to the earthquake


Michael said…
we are inspired by your work and we will attempt to help...cork bus drivers childrens charity.
michael o sullivan
Damien Moran said…
Hi Michael,

Every little counts as you know. Thanks for getting in contact.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Popular Posts