Hôpital Sacré Coeur’s Sister Ann Crawley Leads the Way in Tackling the Ravishes of Extreme Poverty

When the Sacréd Heart Brothers of Montreal first arrived in the jungle outpost of Milot in 1968, they realized they needed to address the cycle of disease and extreme poverty through multiple channels: rural development, economic development, education; and, of course, healthcare. Today, Hôpital Sacré Coeur continues and expands on that founding principle. The concept is simple: people who live in adequate shelters are more protected from the elements and less prone to illness and injury.

Proper nutrition feigns off any number of diseases. Education paves the way to knowledge about preventative healthcare practices and increases the opportunity to gain employment. Steady income is a major factor in preventing many instances of ill health.

Since her arrival at Hôpital Sacré Coeur in 2009, Sister Ann Crawley, of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Peace, has followed the brothers’ footsteps into the mountainous jungles of Milot and down the village streets. Sister’s mission is to find the poorest of the poor, the infirm, the blind and the orphaned children who live in desperate squalor and offer them assistance. She doesn’t have to look far. And, after six years of delivering miracles, those people in dire need find her. With a practiced eye, Sister Ann spots the most at risk members of the community and balances the provisions of basic needs with individual servings of hope, love and understanding.

Sister Ann’s outreach program provides food, shelter and education. The program is administered by Hôpital Sacré Coeur, supervised and designed by Sister Ann, and funded through donations to The CRUDEM Foundation and through support given by Holy Name Medical Center.

Salamy, a blind man dances for joy outside his newly built house.

Salamy, a blind man dances for joy outside his newly built house.

Dear Donors,

I am deeply grateful for your very generous donations and support. I thank you sincerely for your great generosity that helps the poorest of the poor and those people most desperately in need of assistance.

Haiti is surely the poorest country on earth. Most families go hungry for days on end and many can afford only a small bowl of rice every two or three days. God love them. It is heart breaking to witness such poverty and suffering especially when we know there is a lot of food wasted in other parts of the world.

Life is a constant struggle for the poor in this mountainous part of Haiti and it is very difficult for these poor people to eke out a living on the land that is drained of nutrients, as the torrential rain storms have washed all the topsoil into the sea leaving the seed scorched in the hot sun resulting in widespread hunger, disease and malnutrition.

There seems to be no end to the suffering. The people are literally exhausted from the terrible effects of the many recent disasters; earthquake, hurricanes, landslides, floods and the terrible cholera epidemic which is still claiming lives every day.

With unemployment of nearly 90%, it is a huge factor in hunger, disease and malnutrition. Haiti’s children are trapped in a cycle of poverty that has plagued the country for generations. Many people suffer from blindness in Haiti and almost every family has one or two blind relatives.

Hôpital Sacré Coeur Housing Project

Happy widow and family in new house

Happy widow and family in new house

To date I have managed to build 70 houses. You can imagine the joy a new house brings to these people who never lived in a proper house. They literally dance for joy and never cease to praise and thank God for all who have helped them. These houses are very basic: cement blocks and a tin roof. The employment from these projects gives employment to local men and women and helps feed and educate their children.

Our Haitian people are great workers and are absolutely delighted to be employed. They work tirelessly from early morning ‘till late evening. All the work is done by hand as we do not have electricity or power tools. Water cement, sand and stone are carried by hand long distances and uphill as there are no roads; only mud treks in this mountainous part of Haiti. Some local men make tables and chairs from bamboo and beds from local timber.

We use local workers to build simple home furnishings.  Most families sleep in a real bed for the first time!

We use local workers to build simple home furnishings.
Most families sleep in a real bed for the first time!

Right now I am building a house for a family of seven who have two blind family members. Their mud and bamboo house has fallen into ruins in the torrential rain storms and they are exposed to the nasty elements of nature, God love them. These people have been sleeping on the damp mud ground and will not know themselves when they get a new house and some beds! It costs roughly about $5,000 to build a solid little house and $100 to make a bed.

I try to purchase some basic items of furniture for families when they move into a new house. You can imagine the tremendous joy this brings as these people could never afford a stick of furniture. The employment from these projects is a big boost for the local community members, who otherwise have no work and no money income.

I am also most anxious to build a house for dear Mrs. Fillette Ymise. She was in Port au Prince when the earthquake hit. She lost all of her family, her house and was badly injured.

A blind lady in her shack of a home.

A blind lady in her shack of a home.

She was transported to Hôpital Sacré Coeur where, regrettably, the surgeons had no choice but to amputate both of her legs. Having no reason to return to Port au Prince, she stayed in Milot. With no family or local roots, and given her condition, her life has been most arduous. She begs on the street to get by.

I am desperate to build her a home so she is not left in such a vulnerable state. In the meantime, I help her with food needs as much as I can. I pray that one of you kind readers will come to our aid.

In order to build her a home, I will need to buy a small parcel of land at a cost of $2,000. The small home and its basic furnishing (bed, table, etc.) will cost $4,000. For $6,000 — a small fortune here! — Mrs. Fillette Ymise can have a safe, decent home, stop living on the streets, and put a ghastly chapter of her life behind her.

I wish you could meet her; she is such a warm and loving person, God love her. I am humbled daily by the remarkable spirit of Haitians like Mrs. Fillette Ymise.

Sister Ann and “her” children.

Sister Ann and “her” children.

The Healing Benefits of Education for Children

Twins and sister attend school. The uniforms are made locally and provide needed income to women.

Twins and sister attend school. The uniforms are made locally and provide needed income to women.

Since my coming to Haiti six years ago, I have been working with local families to help improve the quality of life for them and their families and to get school sponsorship for their children.

I give priority to children who are orphaned and would never have the opportunity of education. More than half the children sponsored have lost either one or both parents in the terrible recent disasters, God love them. I also look after children suffering from malnutrition and when they have recovered send them to our local preschool where they are given a good meal every day and some snacks.

So far we have about 200 children at school but there are still hundreds of children without education. The Preschool Nutrition Center not only provides food and education for poor families, but gives some employment to our locally unemployed teachers, cooks, and domestic workers. I have school uniforms made locally which gives employment to our local people.

Your donations make it possible for orphans to attend school and hope for a better life.

Your donations make it possible for orphans to attend school and hope for a better life.

One of the most important ways to help children heal is to get them back into a routine. I realize that one effective way to break this cycle of poverty and disease is through education. I believe the old Chinese proverb that says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” My aim is to find people to sponsor a child’s education for at least one year as many families just cannot afford school fees and only 40% of Haiti’s children attend school. It costs roughly $150 to sponsor a child’s education for one year. That covers school fees, books and uniform.

Thank you again for your generous support of Hôpital Sacré Coeur and all the wonderful projects we have to ease the suffering and challenges of living in Haiti. I shall never forget your kindness and, most certainly, you are remembered in the daily prayers of the hundreds of people your donation dollars help! God bless you!

With love and gratitude,
Sister Ann Crawley, C.S.J.P.

If you are moved to assist Hôpital Sacré Coeur’s outreach program, please send your donations to The CRUDEM Foundation and note “Sister Ann Projects.”