A little over a week ago, when I was driving across Port au Prince to help the Sisters in their clinic, I found a woman on the street in the grips of death.
She was entering a coma from eclampsia, in only her 8th month of pregnancy, and I had to act fast on her behalf, calling a friend at a private hospital to assure her a place. I paid a truck (tap-tap) to race her there, since I could not, in any way, fit her in my small off road "polaris", and there was no time to lose looking for an ambulance.
There were a ton of obstacles to her care, including that she was in a full coma on arrival, was herself a minor, and the sonogram of the baby showed no movements of the body except for a rapid heartbeat.
I tell can you now that miraculously, the premature baby is doing well and the mother came out of coma about six hours after the cesarean section.
Since the mom was only 17 years old, the nurses taught her to breastfeed her baby.
Yesterday, at the Sisters clinic, a young woman came to me with terrible burns on her neck and chest, which were an agony for her.
The scars, the weeping wounds, and skin tightly webbing her neck and freezing her in one position.
This burn from a gas stove happened 10 months ago.
Now in October, she was finally able to find help, since she could find no means to pay for her involved care. Every cent she finds buys food for her 2 year old baby.
She was crying with heavy sobs, as I listened and tried to console her. Her husband is dead. She cannot work. She cannot even turn her head.
She cried the cry I have seen too many times. Someone tired of life, anguished that she cannot work to feed her child, and seeing no way out.
I sent her for surgery and follow up treatments with a burn specialist and plastic surgery. I am confident she will find relief, and enjoy some pretty good improvements. I also promised her a first stock of provisions, that she can sell from her home, to start a small storefront to support her child and herself.
Within days after this, there was a terrible case reported on the radio, that thieves attacked and robbed a poor family in the countryside.
They sliced the father up with a machete and raped his two year old daughter.
Hearing this dreadful news was sickening, but very shortly after they were right in front of my eyes, in their great distress and pain.
They had come to us for help.
I want to thank you for enabling rapid and excellent help for these unfortunate people, victims of violence, accident and poverty.
You have shown how much you care about our work in Haiti, by your prayers for us, your messages of support and your donations to help us keep making a big difference.
As you know, aside from the individual tragedies which come to us, over the past 30 years, we have helped build and strengthen communities by building strong networks in education, healthcare, agriculture, disaster relief, and works of mercy like burying thousands of destitute dead.
Our mission in Haiti is vital. It is authentic work. it is pleasing to God.
Of course our work needs funding. Over the years, we have managed to generate more than a third of the income we need right here in Haiti, through:
farming (dairy, honeybees, crops, tilapia),
small contribution from those coming to our hospitals (care is never denied to those who cannot contribute),
the production and sale of bread, pasta, cement block, cobblestones for roadbuilding,
the promotion of solar energy and setting up systems for small institutions,
and many other activities that generate funds.
But, as long as we are taking care of very poor people with limited means, the majority of funds we need have to come from outside of Haiti.
As I begin my 31st year in Haiti, (as a rather young 64 year old man, priest, and physician), I am asking for your help.
I would like to get my next 30 years in Haiti off to a good start!
I want to avoid traveling out of Haiti to fundraise. (I feel what I can offer is more valuable here on the ground)
I also want to avoid investing big money to raise money. (Currently, upwards of 96% of funds raised in USA for our work in Haiti, comes to do its work in Haiti)
This is where you can help.
Will you help me, with a home grown effort, raise $5,000,000, to help fund our work in Haiti during 2018?
The timeline (as measured by the calendar) will be from Thanksgiving 2017 and Thanksgiving 2018. (Thankful we all are - for the many good things in life, and for Divine help with the really difficult parts!)
The timeline (as measured by the year of Grace) will be from Advent 2017 to Advent 2018 (represented by the beautiful and hopeful messages of the prophet Isaiah, envisioning a new beginning of life, of hope, of peace!)
So, we start within the next days, before November ends!
Can we together, through our pyramids of friends, try to find:
5,000,000 people to give St Luke Foundation one dollar, or
500,000 people to give St Luke Foundation ten dollars?
or how about:
500 people to give (or raise) ten thousand dollars, or
50 people to give or raise one hundred thousand dollars?
Our work is authentic and important in Haiti. Our methods are humble and faith filled. The way we approach donors leads to 95% of funds coming directly to Haiti.
I hope we can preserve all of these advantages.
If you can help me raise $1000 or more during 2018, please email email@example.com.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I thank God for you!
and Blessed Advent!
Thanks for any way you can help!
Fr Richard Frechette