There are more than 3000 members of the community working in over 60 countries of the world. The principal focus of their mission is to spread the Christian message, but this labour is inevitably tied up with important humanitarian concerns. In the field of education, for example, they build new schools, and refurbish and repair exisiting schools. These same schools will be furnished and equipped, usually through voluntary contributions. They frequently provide access to medical care, and will assist remote communties to improve their access to basic services.
The Claretians in Haiti have spent several years establishing themselves in Port-au-Prince. Quoting recent correspondence from Haiti, here is a glimpse of the aftermath of the quake:
“The vast majority of concrete structures had completely collapsed……… huge cracks which would hardly stand another aftershock marred the house structure. In fear of the house’s instability, people were sleeping outside on the patio, along with a few acquaintances and neighbours who had lost everything…….. We are in deep trouble,
many deaths, bodies scattered everywhere, houses crumbled with people still inside……. Every time I go out and see the city I ask myself: Am I dreaming or is what I see true? Is this the Port-au-Prince that I have known? But it is not a dream; it is a reality……….. The ten-year-old church and the public elementary school that the Claretians helped to build were destroyed”.
I was briefed to translate some of this correspondence as it came out of Haiti just 48 hours after the earthquake. I was deeply moved by their plight, and now I would like to raise as much as I can to help them re-establish the infrastructure of their work in Port au Prince.