By Christopher Gooding
SPRINGHILL - As the world's attention turns toward Haiti, a nation ravaged by a 7.0 earthquake last Tuesday, many are turning to this former mining town to send prayers and aid to the survivors as they contend with the devastation.
Chalice, formerly Christian Child Care International, has been sending prayers and letters of support to survivors in Haiti from the public using the Chalice website. With two projects in the area and sponsored children and families, the website has become one of the few means of communicating with survivors.
"We've been communicating with the sites through the Internet," Suzanne Johnson, Chalice's international manager for Haiti, said last Thurs. "We had bought satellite Internet for the sites a few years ago and they can see the messages online."
Chalice sponsors two sites in Haiti, one just 140 km from the epicenter of the earthquake, and both have been affected, Johnson said. People are in severe shock and tremors and magnitude 5 aftershocks continue to affect their sponsors.
"There's a lot of fear, hopelessness and shock," Johnson said. "Another thing playing hard for our sponsor children and families is that Port Au Prince is such a large city. A lot of them have family members there and they don't know if they are alive or dead."
Mother Nature has continued to be unkind to the survivors, Johnson reported. People have been sleeping outside in the rain after being told to not return to their homes for fear of buildings collapsing during an aftershock. Chalice has been treating survivors for shock and identifying safe places for survivors to congregate. While the damage continues to be assessed there's strength in numbers but the worse is not over.
"Long-term food purchasing is going to be a problem. In two-to-three weeks time there won't be any food replacement. We're currently looking at alternative sources, like the Dominican Republic."
In the meantime, Johnson said, people can go to www.chalice.ca where donations to the disaster relief fund can be made or, just as important Johnson says, send prayers online.
"[Prayer]seems simple but we take it seriously and they will see them."
Chalice is Canada's largest Catholic sponsorship organization with offices in Lower Sackville and Springhill. It's website is updated here in Springhill.
By Christopher Gooding