Haitian doctor with US ties committed to improving health care for poor neighborhood

Dr. Moise Arnaud Cely, director, Sarthe Neighborhood Medical Clinic. (CNS/Bob Roller)

SARTHE, Haiti — The second floor of his medical clinic is gone, thanks to the Jan. 12 earthquake, yet Dr. Moise Arnaud Cely continues to see patients in the only medical clinic in a forgotten corner of this community mired deep in poverty.

Assisted by two nurses, including his wife, Cely continues to see 75 patients a day in what remains of the Sarthe Neighborhood Medical Clinic. His equipment is limited: scale, blood pressure cup, stethoscope, microscope, bandages and dwindling medications.

Patients wait for treatment inside on well-worn chairs and outside on weathered benches

“We need a lot of medicine because here it is very difficult to find more became most of the buildings where you could buy medicine have been damaged,” Cely told Catholic News Service today.

Fewer of Cely’s patients from this walled neighborhood with rutted rocky roads are arriving these days with untreated broken bones and deep gashes now that its more than three weeks since the quake. Now he’s seeing people experiencing diarrhea and vomiting caused by water-born diseases exacerbated by hunger.

“They look very weak,” he said.

He expects the number of people with such symptoms to continue increasing until adequate food and water are available.

The clinic is supported by the Haitian Development Fund, whose president, Dr. Brent DeLand, is a parishioner at Christ the King Church in Springfield, Ill. The two doctors met in 2002 while delivering health care in Cite Soleil, an extremely poor neighborhood wracked by violence in nearby Port-au-Prince.

DeLand is due to arrive in Haiti, perhaps as early as the end of February, to assess what repairs are needed at the clinic before the rainy season begins in April.

When Cely is not seeing patients he cleans debris from the upper floor of the concrete-block building. Judging by how mangled the roof and wall supports are, he’s going to need a lot of help.

Text of pope’s message for Lent 2010

(Related story: Conversion breaks bonds of selfishness, pope says in Lenten message)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI’s message for Lent 2010 was released by the Vatican today at a press conference. Here is the full text:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Each year, on the occasion of Lent, the Church invites us to a sincere review of our life in light of the teachings of the Gospel. This year, I would like to offer you some reflections on the great theme of justice, beginning from the Pauline affirmation: “The justice of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ” (cf. Rm 3, 21-22).

Justice: “dare cuique suum”

A young survivor of the Haitian earthquake. (CNS/Bob Roller)

First of all, I want to consider the meaning of the term “justice,” which in common usage implies “to render to every man his due,” according to the famous expression of Ulpian, a Roman jurist of the third century. In reality, however, this classical definition does not specify what “due” is to be rendered to each person. What man needs most cannot be guaranteed to him by law. In order to live life to the full, something more intimate is necessary that can be granted only as a gift: we could say that man lives by that love which only God can communicate since He created the human person in His image and likeness. Material goods are certainly useful and required – indeed Jesus Himself was concerned to heal the sick, feed the crowds that followed Him and surely condemns the indifference that even today forces hundreds of millions into death through lack of food, water and medicine – yet “distributive” justice does not render to the human being the totality of his “due.” Just as man needs bread, so does man have even more need of God. Saint Augustine notes: if “justice is that virtue which gives every one his due … where, then, is the justice of man, when he deserts the true God?” (De civitate Dei, XIX, 21). Continue reading