Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Help SVdP's continuing recovery efforts in Haiti!

Dear Vincentians & Friends:

As you know, Haiti suffered a series of catastrophic earthquakes and aftershocks that have changed that country forever. The loss of life and injuries has affected every person in that country. Whole families have been lost. The Archbishop and a large number of religious have lost their lives.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has a presence on the island in the form of a National Council in Port au Prince, four District Councils (two in the South and two in the North) and more than 25 Conferences (groups of volunteers). This country was the poorest in our hemisphere prior to the earthquakes. We have heard that the National (Council) is okay; we are still waiting word on the others.

We began within hours to raise funds for the Haiti Relief efforts. As you know, we are not first-responders. The number of first-responders there at present is extreme. The conditions on the ground are also extreme.

Eduardo Marques Almeida, the Society's International Vice President for the North Equatorial Zone who is responsible for Haiti, was in Port au Prince when the first earthquake hit. We have confirmed that he is okay. He works for the World Bank in Haiti and we know that he is working on the ground to move the relief effort forward.

The infrastructure involving roads, transportation, communication, medical, water and sanitation are destroyed. People are moving out of Port au Prince into the countryside. Neither location is equipped to deal effectively with this.

The National Board - at the meeting in St. Louis this past weekend - discussed exploring with the International Council General of the Society the need to focus on critical Systemic Change Projects as we go forward to insure that life will really be improved for those in need after the first-responders have gone home.

At this point your prayers and your contributions, both individually and as Conferences and Councils, are what is needed. In Southern California, financial gifts, earmarked 'Haiti Earthquake Help,' can be mailed to the Society's Los Angeles Council at 210 N. Avenue 21, L.A., CA 90031. We will keep you updated as news is made available.

Thanks and God Bless,

Roger Playwin

National Executive Director
National Council of the United States
Society of St. Vincent de Paul

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