While Haiti spins as a country in crisis, Hôpital Sacré Coeur stands solidly as an institution of resilience and a port of hope and stability for patients and communities in the Milot region. The mission’s astonishing track record of nearly 60 years of dependable service still endures despite current geo-political events and the inevitable bumps in the road.
Hôpital Sacré Coeur’s success in this regard springs from its passion for the well-being of our Haitian neighbors, a deep faith, and an open-eyed approach to the realities of our environment.
Our practice of dignity, equality, and respect for all sets a firm foundation that fosters right relationships and a vision of unity in collaborations. We know that love, honor, and decency are indeed the ties that bind and strengthen.
In the pre-dawn hours of Monday, November 1, a group of men from the surrounding area had an altercation among themselves. One of the participants was injured, brought to the hospital with critical injuries and could not be saved. The attackers however showed up on the hospital campus and demanded that the man not be treated. Hôpital Sacré Coeur staff refused that request. In their anger, some among the group broke windows, attempted to set a small fire and damaged vehicles.
No patients or hospital staff were harmed. Damage was assessed as not significant. Out of an abundance of caution, most patients were discharged or transferred to other in-country facilities. General hospital operations were temporarily shut down so repairs could be made. By the time you read this letter, we fully expect that Hôpital Sacré Coeur will be back in full operation serving the community.
If this disturbance had occurred in Port-au-Prince, the incident would likely have been prolonged, tragic, and a headliner on international news. Thanks to courageous, fast thinking hospital staff and the immediate intercession of community members, this local anomaly was quickly contained. On its heels, leadership enacted steps to safeguard against any repeats.
Since its inception, Hôpital Sacré Coeur wisely insisted on a practice of community development alongside the provision of quality medical care. Over the decades, Hôpital Sacré Coeur has improved roads, brought electricity to some areas of town, built a church-based community center, dug wells, provided access to clean water, lavatories, handwashing stations, sponsored community gardens and English as a Second Language classes. Collaborations with other groups founded schools, a Rotary Club, assisted in local reforestation, and trained countless trades people — including local bakers. A Milot school receives a steady source of school lunches — all thanks to Hôpital Sacré Coeur.
The hospital’s outreach program goes beyond providing critical preventive, pre-natal and vaccine care. It builds houses for the homeless and impaired, pays school tuitions, distributes food, clothing, toys, and personal and household items. At night, the hospital campus hosts numerous school children doing their homework and connecting to the internet, while huddled under our large security lights.
With a staff of over 350, Hôpital Sacré Coeur is one of the region’s largest employers. In Haiti, one paycheck is routinely shared with the person’s extended family — often 20–24 people! A job at Hôpital Sacré Coeur quite literally feeds a village. Whenever possible, the hospital and volunteer teams purchase from local vendors. Recently, Hôpital Sacré Coeur built a large shelter to safeguard street vendors and allow them to continue selling despite inclement weather. Just outside of town, a roadside waystation offers a place to rest, converse with friends and even watch TV to stay current with the news.
The hospital’s long list of improvements augment excellent medical care. They offer solace for the people by providing them with a healthier, more stable environment in which to live and raise their families. The hospital’s economic participation drives the regional economy.
All these practices and appointments have proven — particularly this year — to be a strong shield of security against the endless violence, looting and destruction that runs rampant in the far southern regions of Haiti. Area residents know that harming the hospital is harming themselves. The resultant losses to the townspeople would be fatal. Hôpital Sacré Coeur’s best protection is the people we serve.
Most might consider Hôpital Sacré Coeur’s many decades long investment in community development a smart, strategic plan. We consider it a way of life: decent, honorable, and loving people care for their neighbors — particularly if their homes leave much to be desired. If we have the capacity, skills, and resources to heal and improve the quality of lives, we don’t hold back. We are not deterred by circumstances or bullies.
We answer to a higher calling. On November 1st, Hôpital Sacré Coeur discovered the life-saving blessings of taking that calling seriously.
If ever there was a time to ponder love’s place in our lives, surely it is this year — especially regarding Haiti. Love is a powerful antidote to bad tidings and a decisive vote for a better outcome. Love announces, with contrasting certainty, belief in the possibility of a world of fairness, equity, inclusiveness, and compassion. At Hôpital Sacré Coeur, love declares that the worst elements of society will find no home here.
As Quaker mystic Emmet Fox reminds, love is a powerful force that supersedes the categories of emotion or trite sayings:
that enough love will not conquer…
a sufficient realization of love
will dissolve it and will dissolve it all.
if only you could love enough, you would be the happiest
and most powerful being in the world.”
Your True Power
It would be easy to sit back claiming you are powerless to stop the bloodthirsty rampage of violence, hatred, and fear now coursing the globe. The nation of Haiti and its troubles would be easy to cross off your list. Until… until you look into the terrified eyes of a toddler on the verge of a burst appendix. Until… you hold the shaking, cold hands of the young mother whose infant has stopped breathing. Until… you lock eyes with the elderly man whose cataract filled gaze punctuates his fear filled face as he moves slowly across the room.
We have looked into those faces, held hands, and locked eyes with countless frightened people in need of immediate medical care. Each one is distinct. Every person stands before us as a life lived and a future life hanging in the balance. Our love compels us to move mountains on their behalf. If the roles were reversed, we would pray for the dedication of someone like us — and YOU.
You can continue to tip the scales in favor of goodness and life. You can throw down your gauntlet of love and watch the tides of despair continue to recede. Your response of love is your most treasured and powerful asset.
Your loving intention will hit the mark and its blessed ripple effects will reach far and wide.
As 1 Corinthians 13:8 remind us: “Love never fails.”
With our deepest appreciation and gratitude for YOU,
Harold Prévil, M.D.
CEO, Hôpital Sacré Coeur
Sister Ann Crawley, C.S.J.P.
Hôpital Sacré Coeur Outreach
David G. Butler, M.D.
Chairman, Haiti Health Promise of Holy Name
Founded as The CRUDEM Foundation
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