On 21 January 2012, Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation and the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Anne held groundbreaking ceremony at the College Marie-Anne in Port-au-Prince, Haiti for the reconstruction of three Saint Anne schools: College Marie-Anne Primary School, College Marie-Anne Secondary School, and Christ the King Secretarial School.
Sister Rita Larivee, the general superior of the Congregation, Sister Lucille Goulet, the general councillor, Sister Marie Eliane Raymond, the provincial superior in Haiti, and Sister Marthe-Marjorie Fevrier, the director of College Marie-Anne, brought letters and gifts from the Congregation members and the Haitian children of the schools to express their gratefulness to Tzu Chi Foundation’s support.
At the meeting with the Sisters, Master Cheng Yen praised the Sisters’ long term selfless devotion to the education of Haitian children: “Although we are in different countries with different religions, we share the same Compassion and Love for people on this same planet. Love is like water. Even if we drill water from different grounds, the water is the same.”
A media reception was held in Taipei on 3 February where the Haitian Ambassador, Mr Mario Chouloute, accompanied the Sisters of Saint Anne and Tzu Chi representatives to share their experiences. Ambassador Chouloute mentioned at the reception that education is most significant to the future of Haiti, and thanked the two organizations for their determination in helping Haitian people despite the difficult situation after the disaster.
Sister Rita Larivee, the general superior of the Congregation, indicated, “After the 2010 earthquake, many people said they would help, but they do not always come. Many people came to visit and said they would return, but they do not always return. The most important reason we came here to Taiwan this week was to thank the Tzu Chi Foundation for keeping their promise. They promised that they would come back, and they did; they promised that they would help us build the schools, and they did.” Sister Fevrier from College Marie-Anne of Haiti said that the experience of working with Tzu Chi inspired their children. The children want to learn from Tzu Chi volunteers to take the responsibility in creating a better world.
The catastrophic earthquake in 2010 led to the death of more than 310,000 people and destroyed countless homes, schools and buildings across the country. In adherence to Tzu Chi’s disaster relief principles of “directness, priority, practicality, respect, gratitude, and timeliness”, Tzu Chi volunteers have been working continuously to provide immediate, mid-term and long-term relief to survivors since January 21, 2010. The volunteers distributed supplies such as blankets, food, tarps/tents, provided medical care, launched food-for-work programme, built temporary shelters, and are in the process of rebuilding schools and promoting and growing a sustainable nutrition supplement – Moringa trees.
The Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Anne was founded in 1850 by Esther Blondin in the outlying region of Montreal, Canada, aiming to improve the poor situation of rural schools. Until now, the Sisters of Saint Anne has started many schools for children in need, and is devoted in education and healthcare in Africa and the Americas, including Haiti.
The two organizations, with great friendship, share the same belief that Love transcends all borders, ethnicities and religions as they work together to bring hope to the people of Haiti.