Rep. Dominicana. (19/I/2009). In addition to Jimaní, another Claretian parish in San Francisco de Macorís, located in a rural area some distance from the border in in the north central part of the Dominican Republic, was one of the first to send concrete help to those affected by the earthquake in Haiti.
We arrived in Santo Domingo on Monday in a medium-sized Daihatsu truck and a Nissan pick-up, both jam packed with humanitarian aid, and about 4:00 am on Tuesday morning we set out for Jimaní on the Haitian border. The first three hours were uneventful, and we looked forward to a beautiful sunrise. But at sunrise the sky was turning more and more grey, not what we had expected. Then, near Barahona, some one hundred kilometers or so from our destination, the overloaded Daihatsu bellowed in alarm. “I don’t have any brakes!” the seasoned driver groaned but continued very carefully over ten kilometers of flat terrain to Cabral, where he found a service station. Thank God, after a long hour and a half the truck was repaired, and we continued on to Jimaní without mishap.
Since Jimaní is the most important border crossing between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, it made sense for the Claretian Missionaries established a new mission site there three years ago. We also accepted responsibility for the pastoral care of two far-reaching rural parishes, Jimaní and La Descubierta, in what is called the Deep South, a region of extreme poverty, stunted development and few social services.
After the horrific earthquake, Jimaní became something of an epicenter of another kind of quake, a tremor of solidarity, welcome, comfort, and health care, as well as the center of operations for government aid. Hundreds upon hundreds of the injured have crossed the border in desperate need of medical treatment and medicine, attention to injuries, amputations, and treatment for gangrene. The small local hospital is bursting at its seams. The Claretians have made a remarkably effective contribution, welcoming these poor nomadic people in need of care. Our recently established Centro Social has opened its doors wide to welcome, relieve and console the countless displaced and injured.
The face of Jesus has been made visible to his “little ones”, the injured and desperate, in an outstanding way, thanks to two Claretian priests, Frs. Pepe Rodríguez and Roselio Díaz, pastors of our two parishes in the region.
Well, we arrived in Jimaní mid-morning with our vehicles overflowing. As participants in the massive effort to assist the Haitian people, the Claretians, as representatives of PROMICLA, have wisely decided that all aid from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico will be safely stored in Jimaní and gradually distributed in an orderly fashion in Haiti, especially among the needy in our parishes in Port-au-Prince and Kazal, fifty kilometers from the capital, even though the latter was not as heavily affected. So, we began unloading the generous contribution from our rural parish of San José de Cenoví, in San Francisco de Macorís: cartons of milk, potable water, rice, sacks of green bananas, pastas, clothing and footwear.
Around 1,00 pm, Fr. Anistus, pastor in Port-au-Prince, and our eight Haitian seminarians arrived by van. Last Saturday, the seminarians had located their families and now were returning to our seminaries in Santo Domingo and San Francisco de Marcorís. Shaking with joy because we hadn’t heard how their families had fared, we welcomed them. However, we were pained and saddened at the death of the mother of one of them, several of his small cousins and nephews and a baptismal godmother. Thank God, the loss was not as bad as we might have expected. After a frugal fraternal meal of tasty boiled meat and rice, the seminarians, along with their prefect Fr. José Camilo Minay, headed back to their seminaries.
Fr. Anistus was headed for Port-au-Prince in the opposite direction. His heart swelling with unrestrained gratitude – and with no brakes – he intoned the Magnificat on behalf of the supportive and generous parishioners of San José de Cenoví. Then, he set off in his his pick-up, loaded to the top, with a portion of the supportive treasure, which had arrived from the Dominican Repuglic only hours ago. A caravan of solidarity!