Highland News Leader

St. Paul’s sister parish in Haiti dodges worst of Hurricane Matthew

The sister parish of St. Paul Catholic Church in Highland, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, dodged Hurricane Matthew, but the intense rain has flooding its town in Haiti.

“They are doing pretty good. If you’re looking at a map of Haiti, look at southwestern peninsula. That’s where the bulk of the damage was,” said Shelly Sands, president of the charity Missions International and a member of the St. Paul’s Sister Parish Committee. “Gonaives is up further north. It’s kind of a part of the island that sticks out.”

St. Charles is located in Gonaives, which is experiencing intense flooding in the aftermath of the hurricane. The flood waters have destroyed crops and are putting the residents at risk for disease.

“They are afraid now that there will be an issue of clean water, which can cause diseases and possibly more deaths,” Sands said. “Communicating with them is not easy.”

Hurricane Matthew was a Category 4 hurricane when it smashed into Haiti and had sustained winds of up to 140 mph. Matthew destroyed homes, orphanages, and businesses.

Sands said her primary means of communication has been the “Whatsapp” app, which allows users to text without paying for SMS.

“I spoke with Father Belix Michel through email, and (he said) they are all safe and fine,” Sands said.

The other person she’s been speaking to through the app is one of the parish nuns.

“People have called to see if they need anything. Currently, they are needing medicine and food, because the crops that were there were devastated,” Sands said. “And they need medicine for the diseases with the water.”

Sands is trying to figure out the best way to make that happen. Her organization, Missions International, focuses on “establishing churches, orphanages, medical clinics, and homes among the unreached people groups of Central America, South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia,” according to their website.

Sands said if anyone wants to donate, donations should be made through Missions International, instead of through St. Paul.

“One hundred percent of the donations will go toward helping the church in Haiti,” she said. “That’s guaranteed, but that’s about all people here can do right now.”

For more information on how you can help, check out the website Missionsinternational.org.