At least half of the world cannot access essential health services, and an estimated 100 million people are being pushed into extreme poverty by health expenses, reports the World Bank and World Health Organization.
Finding quality, affordable care is particularly challenging for the poor in developing nations — especially those who live in extremely remote communities. Without nearby medical facilities, transportation or the money to pay for professional care, these brothers and sisters might suffer from painful illnesses and injuries for years without receiving help. In such circumstances, it is easy to feel alone and uncared for — as though the rest of the world is oblivious to your suffering.
That’s why supporting Catholic medical missions is so critically important! Around the world, dioceses, priests, religious sisters and lay people have devoted their lives to reaching the sick and poor with much-needed medical care.
In 2022, our donors took action to support their lifesaving work. By doing so, they have shared Christ’s mercy in nations such as Haiti and others all over the world.
For many years, the people in Haiti’s Grand’Anse department had no access to breast cancer education, screenings, biopsies or support — but that tragic situation finally changed when the Grand’Anse Health and Development Association (GAHDA) launched its women’s health program in the Diocese of Jérémie. It stepped up to provide the lifesaving breast cancer education and care the region so desperately needed. To spread the word and increase their impact, the nonprofit’s devoted staff and volunteers started meeting with parish directors to organize informative seminars and mobile clinics, all of which have helped raise awareness, dispel misconceptions, catch early signs of cancer and provide merciful care for thousands of vulnerable patients.
Haiti has faced acute hardships in recent years. Fuel shortages and gang activity have made it particularly difficult to travel throughout the country — and yet, our partner has persevered despite the challenges. Its staff has continued to train and equip local physicians, nurses and parish volunteers to educate women in remote communities regarding prevention, self-examination and symptom recognition. This year, they are working to reach a total of 10,000 people with access to critical information and care options.
GAHDA knows that strong, healthy mothers make for strong, healthy families. By providing Haiti’s women with vital support, its work is blessing entire households and building a brighter future for the nation.
Irene knew she was sick, but with the nearest treatment facility located nearly 100 miles away in Port-au-Prince, there was nothing she could do. The travel and medical bills were already too expensive for her family to afford — and when the 2021 earthquake destroyed their home, even securing basic shelter and food became a battle. Seeking long-term medical care was out of the question, and despair was starting to set in.
But hope arose when GAHDA met with Father Bazile, Irene’s parish priest. He alerted our partner to Irene’s circumstances and received tarps, blankets, cases of food and medicine to deliver to her family.
Best of all, with help from our supporters, GAHDA was able to cover the cost of Irene’s travel, testing and chemotherapy! Without this intervention, Irene’s breast cancer would have worsened indefinitely, but today, she is on the road to recovery. The journey has not been easy, but this courageous woman remains optimistic and grateful because she knows she does not fight alone. Christ and her fellow Catholics are in her corner — praying, providing and cheering her on to victory!
GAHDA also supports Haiti’s people in other meaningful ways. For example, with help from medicines and supplies sent by Cross Catholic Outreach, it has equipped mobile medical clinics to serve needy families. With these supplies, doctors and nurses have served very distant communities that would not otherwise have had access to care. At times, they have journeyed five hours to reach remote villages and deliver relief.
In Enot, Haiti, Volcy Myslat has benefited from these mobile medical clinics. Last year, she received free treatment for a headache and stomachache — a service that would have cost her about 1,500 Haitian gourdes (USD $10.30) at the nearest hospital. Myslat is a subsistence farmer who grows just enough bananas and yams to eat twice daily. She has no extra funds to cover health expenditures and would have needed to borrow money for treatment if the mobile clinic had not come.
Now, thanks to the free care she received, she can be the best and healthiest version of herself as she raises her young son.
“It’s very important to me … I get free treatment. I thank them very much for that,” Myslat said. “I ask God to protect me, to let me watch my child and educate him.”
Zephirin Tangier was also blessed by the clinic’s services in Enot. He works very hard as a farmer and gardener while also trying to operate a small business buying and selling goods. Despite his efforts, he is sometimes only able to eat one small meal of tomtom (a traditional Haitian dish made from mashed breadfruit) each day.
“I came [to the clinic] because I have bone pain. Sometimes I get so dizzy that I have to hold on [to something] a few times so that I don’t fall,” he shared.
If it weren’t for the visiting clinic, Tangier would have had to wade across the river in his condition to reach the hospital in Chambellan. He would also have had to pay between 2,000 and 2,500 gourdes (about USD $14 to $17) — a fee too steep for someone who cannot even buy enough food to eat. Thanks to the clinic’s services, though, he was able to receive treatment without sinking deeper into poverty.
“When I came, they gave me medicine, they consulted me, they referred me, et cetera, for free!” Tangier celebrated. “No money! That’s how they served me today.”
Fremot Jean Kenol is a Haitian doctor who has volunteered with the mobile medical clinics. He has witnessed firsthand the incredible improvement that these services have made in patients’ lives.
“The person came with pain and could not stand, and then in the next clinical visit, this person is no longer in pain and is content and even will thank you because people are very grateful in the community. They can’t give you money or millions, but they say ‘thank you.’ They remember what you did for them, so that motivates us to go even further,” Kenol explained. “We are happy; we are touched because people recover and find the care they need.”
Cross Catholic Outreach is currently working to fund health-related programs in 17 countries, and we estimate that nearly 200,000 lives will be blessed by these merciful outreaches! Here are just a few more of the ministry partners that we are supporting this year:
Thanks to our benefactors, we are able to equip partners like these with critical funding — as well as with much-needed shipments of medicines, supplies and equipment — so they can serve some of the world’s neediest communities. With every effort, they assure struggling patients that God values their lives and wants to meet their needs through his Church.
“The needs are great and never-ending,” said Bette Gebrian, GAHDA’s executive director and a registered nurse. “But [the people] have not given up. They have not lost hope, and they have tremendous faith, which is supported by Cross Catholic Outreach.”
Thank you to everyone who took action to share healing with a world in desperate need. More and more people are moving forward with health, strength, faith and the hope of abundant life because of the love you’ve shown.
Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.