Saved from Starvation

January 29 2024 | by

THE PARISH of Saint-Raphaël, part of the Archdiocese of  Cap-Haïtien, lies about 40 kilometres southwest of Cap-Haïtien in the Nord department of Haiti. It has around 155,000 habitants. This is where the nutrition centre of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Saint Vallier have been caring for malnourished children for several decades. “The children come from extremely poor families from the town itself and the surrounding areas,” says Sister Mimose Saintilbert, the District Bursar of the sisters in Cap-Haïtien. “Each year we welcome a group of 50 malnourished children who come to us for 5 days per week. On the other days they receive food that their parents prepare at home.”

The families the children come from are often reliant on small seasonal businesses, and it’s difficult for the family to feed their children and meet their health needs. Many people are abandoning the area in search of a better life with a great exodus to the Dominican Republic, Chile, and Brazil. “The children are the biggest victims,” continues Sr. Mimose. “Many children live without the presence of a father or mother. The majority of the population here live below the poverty line, existing on less than 1 US dollar per day.”


63-year presence


The Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Saint Vallier comes from the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Vienna, the first branch of the congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph was founded in 1650. The Sisters have been present in Haiti for 63 years and began their first mission in Saint-Raphaël. They work in various areas including health, education, prison pastoral care, and care of the sick. Their mission is to “be with the poor” and in particular those who are most vulnerable. They are present in several departments of Haiti, and their responsibilities also include two dispensaries, two secondary schools, four primary schools, and two kindergartens in addition to the nutritional centre.

“For more than 60 years, our Congregation has been present among the people,” says Sister Lourdes Toussaint, the District Superior of the Sisters in Haiti. “We have witnesses the death of many children due to malnutrition, and this is why we decided to found the nutritional centre. The situation in Haiti is increasingly difficult and chaotic. Feeding children is becoming more and more complex, given the seriousness of the socio-political and economic situation here.”


€23,750 granted


The request from the Sisters was for support for the nutritional centre for one year. This would allow them to continue to provide food for 50 children, five days per week. The kids are aged between 0 and 5 years old. They would receive appropriate food, medicine, games, support, and school activities, which would allow them to start school without too much difficulty and in good health. The programme continues with a turnover of children who, when they have recovered from malnutrition and are old enough, can start kindergarten and make way for other children who may be in more need of help.

The total cost of the proposed project was €26,200: €16,300 for food, €6,050 for medicine and health, €2,650 for heating, and €1,200 for maintenance. After a local contribution from the parents and the congregation, €23,750 was requested from and granted by St. Anthony’s Charities.

The first payment was received on May 12, 2022 and the project started officially on May 16. Food and medicines were purchased and the children welcomed to the centre. “We didn’t have any difficulties carrying out the project,” says Sr. Mimose. “But the cost of living is increasing significantly day by day, and the socio-economic and political problems here have a great impact on the lives of the entire Haitian population.” Sr. Mimose also reported the same concerns after receiving the second payment in October 2022, but she added that “it is a great grace for the children as well as the parents to be able to benefit from such generosity.”

The final payment was received in April 2023, and the project came to an end on July 31, 2023, but the work of the Sisters continues. “The majority of our children have been cured of their malnutrition,” reports Sr. Mimose. “They are now ready to start pre-school. Their parents must continue to take care of them and ensure they have health consultations every two weeks to monitor their growth. Like all of the children who pass through our nutritional centre, we hope for good academic results and future productivity of these children.” At the end of the project, a total of 65 kids had been helped.


Vital support


At the conclusion of the project, the parents wrote, “We the parents of the children at the nutrition centre have the honour to thank you for your attention towards our children. We express our most sincere gratitude for your contribution, which makes a great impact in the lives of our children.” And a message from the children, too: “Thank you for your generosity and for being sensitive to our needs. Thank you for allowing us to eat and be able to go to school. May God bless you always.”

“Dear readers of the Messenger of Saint Anthony and St. Anthony’s Charities, it is with a heart full of gratitude that we thank you for the generous help given to our Congregation in this very difficult time to meet the needs of the children of the nutrition centre in Saint-Raphaël. Your support has been vital to us. May Saint Joseph accompany you and protect you today, tomorrow, and always.”




Updated on January 29 2024