Salesian Missions Hit Hard in Port-au-Prince, Frantically Working to Provide Aid as Humanitarian Workers Become Victims and Among Missing

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (January 15, 2010) – In the wake of the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Salesian Missions is working around the clock to pull together emergency response teams and fundraising efforts to assist in the relief efforts. Among those in need of assistance are Salesians and missionary workers, and at least 200 students are believed to be buried in the rubble of the renowned “National School of Arts and Trades” operated by Salesian Missions.

The Salesian Information Agency (SIA) is reporting that an 85-year-old Salesian member of the Order, Brother Hubert Sanon, was among the victims of Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti. Father Harold Bernard was reported rescued from the ruins alive Jan. 13.

Fr. Ducange Sylvain, who was appointed the new Superior of the Vice Province of Haiti last December, described the situation to SIA, saying, “We have been hit very hard,” referring to the situation of the Salesians.

Since the Salesian Missions offices and schools in Port-au-Prince are damaged or destroyed and the whereabouts of aid workers is unknown, an emergency response team has been formed from Salesian Missions’ Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic offices. The team was scheduled to travel by helicopter this afternoon to Port-au-Prince to assess the situation and help in emergency relief efforts, but they have been unable to secure air transport. Unless an opportunity arises, they will begin driving to Haiti by jeep at first daylight Friday, Jan. 15.

Salesian Missions not only operated schools for thousands of students in Port-au-Prince, but services of all kinds for 25,000 of Haiti’s poorest children. Specializing in sheltering, educating and feeding street children, the humanitarian aid organization has its work cut out for it as all children in Port-au-Prince are now street children.

“Salesian Missions has been in Haiti since 1936, and despite this set back and our personal losses, we will continue to provide hope to Haiti’s poorest children,” says Fr. Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions headquartered in New Rochelle, NY. “While some of the schools have been destroyed we can still partner with aid organizations in carrying out a food aid distribution program or any other humanitarian relief effort.”

“The situation is critical and overwhelming,” adds Fr. Mark. “Salesian Missions is working hard to respond to the need for disaster relief and is calling for emergency donations. Salesian Missions is working frantically to help survivors with little resources. Help is needed immediately.”

Funds are sought from the public and corporations for disaster relief efforts in Haiti.

Funds are needed for:

  • emergency relief kits for the survivors ($40 will provide a relief kit)
  • bottled water
  • food
  • tents
  • clothing
  • medical items
  • satellite telephone to re-establish communication

Individuals and businesses interested in donating should go the Donate Now page on SalesianMissions.org and select “Haiti Recovery Fund.”

ABOUT SALESIAN MISSIONS: Salesian Missions is headquartered in New Rochelle, NY. The mission of the U.S.-based nonprofit Catholic organization is to raise funds for its international programs that serve youth and families in poor communities around the globe. The Salesian missionaries are made up of priests, brothers and sisters, as well as laypeople – all dedicated to caring for poor children throughout the world in more than 130 countries, helping young people become self-sufficient by learning a trade that will help them gain employment. To date, more than 3 million youth have received services funded by Salesian Missions. These services and programs are provided to children regardless of race or religion. To date, more than 5 million Americans have contributed financially to this work.