September 18, Port au Prince, Haiti
“Dear friends and supporters,
Two nights ago, as the long day was finally winding own, a few of us went to Cité Soleil to have a look at the progress of the house we are building, and to try to solve some related problems.
We stopped by our St Mary’s hospital to visit there, and right away a motorcycle raced up to us with three men on it, the man in the middle flopping to the side and near dead.
I knew right away it was cholera. I knew right away I just needed I few IV needles, and a half dozen liters of IV fluid to save his life.
With difficulty I was able to get a catheter into each arm, while Amaral, Fr. Enzo, Wisley and Murat took turns squeezing the IV bags in order to make the fastest entry of the fluid into this man, who was minutes away from shock and death.
While I worked, I made small talk with his brother who had held him up on the motorcycle, small talk with the half conscious man who had cholera, and small talk with myself, in order to keep everyone, including me, clam and hopeful.
I knew if he died, many dreams would die with him; for him, his children and his family.
I kept my fingers on his pulse as the boys squeezed the bags. I warmed him with sheets against his shivering, and prayed quietly.
A little at a time, first a faint, then an intermediate, then a strong pulse told my fingers he would be OK.
I am always amazed at how little it takes to help, how high the impact of that help is, and how often dreams that are about to shatter come to full sail again with the beautiful gust of the wind of hope.
Our school year has just started, as has yours. We have some 15,000 students. They have young minds and young hearts, they are eager to learn, and eager to apply their talents toward rebuilding their country.
I love their pride and enthusiasm, and their endangered innocence.
Like all children everywhere, they deserve to spend these tender, and then less tender years learning and growing, instead of carrying water and wood and begging for something to eat.
My heart breaks for our less abled students. They are not a few. Walking, thinking, talking, and learning require Herculean effort on their parts. I feel a sorrow for them, yet they don’t seem to feel it for themselves. I guess my sorrow is that of someone who knows how difficult life is already, even if you have no disabilities, and I can’t imagine how they will meet the many challenges of life. I know not every dream can be fulfilled and not every storm can be weathered.
Yet they make their way to their programs every day, strong and determined, sharing their smiles and embraces – what is most essential in life is already theirs!
Speaking of school, I am also a student, though not a young one, and not just September to June.
Lately I have been reading a lot about the claim that bad is stronger than good. I am convinced now that it is true. Bad is stronger than good.
The main point is that the bad is much more damaging to a person than the good is healing. You should read about it. On the internet look up the topic of bad being stronger than good.
It does not mean bad wins. It means a bad thing has to be offset with 100 good things in order to heal and help someone thrive and grow.
We are all shocked at the beheadings done by ISIS in the past months. An email from some Catholic sisters in Iraq yesterday claim that even children are being beheaded. This is distressful beyond words.
Yet I am reminded of when Jesus learned of a beheading. It was his own cousin, John. When he learned of it, he went apart in solitude, grief and prayer, and when he emerged he fed 5000 hungry people with a few pieces of bread. Jesus is showing us that in the face of badness we have to multiply goodness. In the face of wickedness we have to multiply goodness to exponential powers.
This is, in a nutshell, what we are trying to do in our vast work in Haiti. We are trying to offset the bad effects of poverty, corruption, and tragedy with thousands of positive activities every day, trying to preserve hope, which is the prime matter of dreams.
We have what money cannot buy. We care, we want to help, our hearts are in it. We have faith, we live the strength of solidarity, and there are many of us. But for sure without money, classroom seats disappear, food distributions decline, hospital beds stay empty, the hammers building homes and neighborhoods become silent, the life of the disabled becomes harder, the destitute dead don’t get buried, the victim of cholera does not survive, and the weavers of dreams lose their stamina.
It is not usual this time of the year for us to have a financial slump. Last year my 60thbirthday, and the many donations sent for the occasion, carried us through it. I am afraid 61 is not as big a deal!
If you have any means to help us as the school year begins, please do remember us. We are still willing and able to help. In fact we love to be able to help.
Lets offset the bad around us with thousands of life giving, dream fulfilling acts of goodness.
Thanks very much for your support and prayers. Count on mine!
God bless “
Fr Rick Frechette CP DO