Nicholas Sheppard held a bag while other volunteers added rice, pinto beans, freeze-dried vegetables and vitamins for six servings. The bag was then sealed and placed in a box.
Over a two-hour shift, 350 volunteers assembled the nutrition food packets at Chaminade Preparatory High School on Aug. 14, which will be shipped to Hôpital Sacré Coeur in Milot, Haiti, for distribution to the neediest people in Haiti’s northern region. The aim was to pack 100,000 meals or more for the neediest people there, and they ended up with 113,000.
It’s part of a project of the CRUDEM Foundation, begun by St. Louis physician Dr. Theodore “Ted” Dubuque, Jr. in 1993 to support Hôpital Sacré Coeur. The foundation has a social ministry run by two Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, Maureen Boggins and Ann Crawley. Extreme food insecurity and famine relentlessly overtake much of Haiti — and that was before a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the island Aug. 14, the same day as the “packathon” at Chaminade. Haitians who are blind or infirm, orphans and infants — the focus of the sisters’ outreach — are particularly vulnerable.
Nicholas, a sophomore at Clayton High School, was accompanied by members of his youth group at St. Francis Xavier (“College”) Church in St. Louis. “It’s an opportunity to help people and have a good time,” he said. “I know Haiti is going through a hard time. This helps a little bit — we’re doing something really good.”
Erin Dunlap came with her husband, Darren, and three children, ages 9, 11 and 15, all of St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood. She learned of the effort through the Notre Dame Club of St. Louis and instantly knew it would be a good family project. They helped stack the bags and put them into boxes, already on box eight after about 45 minutes of work. Her son, Patrick, a St. Louis University High School student, said: “I like that people are coming together for one big goal to help people in need.”
Dr. William Guyol, a physician in St. Louis and Immacolata parishioner, was a local organizer of the packathon. He said “because of the recent unrest in Haiti, there’s been a lot of price inflation. People simply cannot afford their meals. The economy is almost at a standstill. Things are tough.”
Guyol typically spends time at the Haitian hospital twice a year but has not visited for a year because of COVID-19 precautions.
The average Haitian lives on approximately $2 a day, often eating just one meal of beans and rice a day. There has been additional issues recently after Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated on July 7. The country currently has no working parliament and only a handful of elected senators. News reports stated that the earthquake Aug. 14 killed at least 1,200, but thousands were injured or missing. The death toll was expected to rise.
In addition to the volunteers, the St. Louis effort raised just short of its goal of $50,000 to aid in the food distribution and assist the ministry in Haiti, though some additional donations were expected. “St. Louis has always been generous to the CRUDEM foundation,” Guyol said.
Assisting with the operation was another nonprofit, Feed the Hunger. The food was put in a shipping container that was to be trucked to New Jersey, placed on a ship and delivered within a couple weeks to the Port of Cap-Haïtien, about 30 minutes from Hôpital Sacré Coeur.
The people of Haiti are “happy, joyful and have a wonderful faith,” Guyol said. “They are full of gratitude for what they have though they have virtually nothing compared to you or me.”
The event was dominated by volunteers from Catholic parishes and schools. Archbishop Emeritus Robert J. Carlson led an opening prayer, citing a Gospel passage from Matthew 25 and telling the volunteers that by feeding others they’re feeding Jesus. “We share our life and love with the people of Haiti,” he said.
Lucas Licker, a Chaminade freshman, came with his mom. “I enjoy helping others,” he said. “Haiti is in a bad situation, and I’m happy we’re in a situation where we can help.”
Anastasia Rybakova, the mother of a Chaminade freshman, said that she’s from Kurdistan (a region in the Middle East), and “we experienced a revolution just as in Haiti now. I sympathize with these people and want to take care of them. So many people here are ready to help. I’m really impressed.”
Hôpital Sacré Coeur is the largest private hospital and public health provider for the 250,000 people living in the Milot region of Northern Haiti. Hôpital Sacré Coeur was established by the Montreal Province of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in 1968.
In 1986, St. Louis physician Dr. Ted Dubuque spent six months as a volunteer surgeon at the hospital and established the operating room there. The mission, called Project CRUDEM, included the hospital and was started by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. When the religious community could no longer support the hospital, Dubuque and his friend, St. Louisan Carlos Reese, took over management and financial responsibility by forming the charitable CRUDEM Foundation in 1993, with major support from Annunziata Parish in Ladue and the Order of Malta. The hospital has become a premier health care provider in Haiti, gradually expanding from an original six beds to more than 200.
In 2012, the Holy Name Medical Center Foundation of Teaneck, New Jersey (“Holy Name”) became the sole corporate member of CRUDEM. Management of Hôpital Sacré Coeur is the responsibility of its Haitian leadership team, assisted by several U.S. technical advisors provided by CRUDEM.
Outreach is done through the Community Health Service, with public health nurses and community health workers serving a number of sites in the region and reaching 150,000 people with vaccinations, pre-natal care, basic hygiene and nutrition training, and HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and lymphatic filariasis treatment.
For information or to assist CRUDEM, visit crudem.org.
Hôpital Sacré Coeur – 2020 Statistics
Outpatient Visits 62,355
Hospital Admissions 6,649
Emergency Room Visits 7,158
Newborn Deliveries 2,195
Diagnostic Tests 12,307
Lab Tests 129,141
Prescriptions Filled 329,047