Aid getting to Haitians

Published 10:15 pm Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Parishioners at St. Mary’s Catholic Church have been instrumental this week in helping get supplies to Haiti — even from hundreds of miles away.

The church is “twinned” with the parish in Belladere, Haiti, which is a few miles from the border with the Dominican Republic. Belladere is roughly 40 miles from Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital, where a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the impoverished nation on Jan. 12. Severe aftershocks have rocked the country since, including one measuring 5.9 magnitude on Wednesday.

The Church of the Holy Family in Virginia Beach called Paul Fletcher, who heads St. Mary’s Haitian mission, last week and asked if there was room to stage supplies coming from the Dominican Republic in Belladere before they are shipped to Port-au-Prince.

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“I e-mailed the priest there, and he said they can use Belladere and the church facilities,” Fletcher said. “They agreed to assist in getting the needed storage space for critical supplies as they come over from the Dominican Republic.”

The supplies are coming from Partners in Health, a global organization that works with impoverished countries worldwide.

As part of the twinning project, the church regularly supports needs within its Haiti twin parish, including church and school construction. Fletcher and others visit regularly to encourage the parishioners in Haiti, check on construction projects and find out what the parish needs.

“The priest in Belladere, he is fine,” Fletcher said, adding most people in the parish are OK physically. “The people there are really in distress because most of them have families back in Port-au-Prince,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher hopes to go to Haiti in February or March to help with recovery efforts, but still is trying to arrange transportation to the country.

To help with Haiti recovery efforts, visit your denomination’s official Web site or text “Haiti” to 90999 to give $10 to the American Red Cross for recovery efforts.