Five years ago a catastrophic earthquake struck the Caribbean Island. Commitments for various types of aid actions were set in motion to help the Haitian population.
It was a tragedy «that caused death, destruction and also desperation» and where «a lot has been done to rebuild the country » but where a lot of work still remains to be done.» This was what Pope Francis said to the participants at the meeting promoted for the 5th anniversary of the 12 January earthquake.
Though part of a very poor society, also the Focolare Movement’s community in Savanette (Mont-Organisé in the North-East) immediately expressed its willingness to receive and help the evacuees arriving from Port-au-Prince, the capital which was immensely devastated. The local association, PACNE (Action Contre la Pauvreté du Nord-Est), thought of creating a centre to host the evacuees and with the contribution of many communities from various parts of the world and the assistance of the AFN associations (Action for New Families) and AMU (Action for a United World), was able to set up the community centre, “Maison de la Providence,” which offered employment and accommodation to evacuee families. On the whole, in its first two years of activities this centre supported about 500 people.
At Port-au-Prince, two projects were conducted by AMU in close collaboration with the Scalabriniani Missionaries, as a sign of that “ecclesiastical communion” which has characterised the reconstruction of Haiti, in which many ecclesiastics or lay organisations were involved. The first, related to an urbanization plan for families who were without homes, consisted of the creation of a new electric line to service two villages, by which 41 families were able to connect to the electric power grid. Furthermore, to help complete the construction of the “Montebelluna-Bassano” village composed of 27 housing units for the benefit of 135 people, the contribution of AMU went to the laying of the village’s water and sewerage system and the electrical equipment of each house. The power grid was boosted through a production pole with a powerful generator, in such a way that many small enterprises in the area (cement blocks, carpenter workshops, a bakery, an industrial kitchen and a poultry farm) managed to increase their own production. Lastly, AMU supported the start-up of a poultry farm – with job opportunities for 10 people – through the construction of a water reserve tank, indispensable for the water supply of the 3,000 animals and slaughtering activities.
A community centre – school, recreation centre and big sports ground – was the second project AMU supported. Through AMU the Focolare Movement also supported other social activities for the Haiti population: at Carice (always in the North East), for many years a professional nurse was employed in the small clinic of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate, while waiting for one of the religious to complete her specialization and be able to work in the clinic, one of the few healthcare centres at the service of the population. Lastly, with PACNE and the specific contribution of the Youth for United World, a study scholarship program was launched for around ten Haitian youth, to allow them to pursue their university studies in Haiti, and for others to acquire good professional skills in the Dominican Republic close by, to be placed at the disposal of their own country.