Daughters of Charity Aid Cholera-Infected Haiti

Congregation Awarded Van Thuân Prize

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, OCT. 29, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul were among the victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake that struck Haiti, yet they were also among the first aid workers.

For this reason, as well as the continuing work they have been doing in that country over the past 30 years, the communities in Haiti were chosen as recipients of the «Van Thuân Prize — Solidarity and Development.»

Sister Maria Teresa Tapia, provincial of Haiti, described to ZENIT the work that led to their recognition with the award on Oct. 22.

The award, instituted three years ago by the St. Matthew Foundation of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, recognizes institutions, associations and entities that carry out humanitarian and work projects in developing countries to defend human rights through the promotion and diffusion of evangelical principles, following the directives of the social doctrine of the Church.

Sister Tapia said that her communities have been working for 30 years in Haiti «on the level of instruction as well as health, in the promotion of woman and in the struggle against malnutrition.»

The congregation lost its provincial house and a school in the quake, but the sisters rallied nonetheless to go to the largest hospital in Port-au-Prince and aid the wounded.

«So many sisters then arrived from Spain, from France, from England, from the United States, and from South and Central America to help the victims of the catastrophe, taking care of them and helping them in the refugee camps, in the clinics, in the districts of Port-au-Prince and in the Petit Goave campaign,» Sister Tapia said.

She noted that millions of Haitians are still living in tents and «have urgent need of dwellings, food, water, care and health services, school resources and structures for children.»

The nun reported, «In these last days of October another disaster has devastated the country: the cholera epidemic, as grave as was the earthquake.»

Some 284 have already died of cholera, and another 3,600 are infected.

Sister Tapia added, «Four sisters of the Daughters of Charity are on the spot to help infected people.»

[With the contribution of Mariaelena Finessi]
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