Since 2013, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and Notre Dame Mission Volunteers have been working with communities in Les Cayes, Haiti. The Boulangerie Notre Dame (Notre Dame Bakery), which includes a cafe, was built to provide training and jobs to families in the area, creating sustainable pathways out of poverty. Income from the bakery/cafe and donations also support the education of children of employees and provide bread for local schools.
This is the latest information available about the status of the bakery employees and the structure following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake on August 14, 2021:
August 25, 2021 – Regional Update
The Southern part of Haiti is divided into three departments including:
The Grand Sud (Les Cayes)
Grand Anse ( Jeremie) and
Les Nippes ( Miragoane).
Les Cayes, Jeremie and Miragoane are home to 1.5 million people. According to the Haitian Civil Protection Agency, the dead so far number 2, 200 people, 344 people reported missing, 12,268 injured, 52,000 homes destroyed, 75,000 families homeless and 77,006 homes damaged. The representative of UNICEF stated that 1.2 million people including 540,000 Haitian children have been affected by the earthquake.
Les Cayes and its outskirts with 125,000 people is the most affected by the earthquake. It caused catastrophic damage as well as wide spread devastation. The death toll stands at 1,300 people. At least 80% of the population lost their homes. Many churches and schools are damaged or destroyed. The injured people continue to arrive at the hospitals. The Immaculee Conception Hospital in Les Cayes struggles to treat broken bones and people with open wounds
Many who have lost their homes are living on a muddy soccer field in temporary shelters made with sticks and covered with tarps.
People who live on the outskirts of Les Cayes, especially in the mountain side, felt they had been forgotten. Bad roads and poor transportation prevented people from reaching out to them.
The earthquake, the courant political instability in Haiti, and the hurricane that brought strong wind and heavy rainfall plunged the Haitian people into more misery, many are already suffering from not being able to meet their basic needs.
Help arrived in the South Peninsula.
Distribution of goods has already started to provide assistance to the most vulnerable people reported the Internal Organization of Migration (IOM). The UN agency and partners are also distributing tarpaulin for emergency shelters, latrines, showers with safe water, and medical kits to three hospitals in Les Cayes to treat 30,000 earthquake victims. The World Food Program Helicopter and the US Coast Guard have landed in Les Cayes.
Search and rescue effort.
The Haitian Army, the Fire Fighters, and the US Army are still working to find people trapped inside collapsed buildings. In the outskirts of Les Cayes, 24 people including 4 children were found alive today in the rubble.
It is a long journey for the Haitian people. But God did not leave them alone. The world is on their side.
Thank you again,
Sister Jeannette, SNDdeN
August 19, 2021
Tropical storm Grace inundated Les Cayes with 5in of rain as people reeled from the earthquake. Our team has begun repairs and is eager to bake bread for their community.
August 15, 2021
As you have seen in the news, Haiti experienced a devasting 7.2-magnitude earthquake this past weekend. The city of Les Cayes, home to our Boulangerie Notre Dame, was severely impacted. As we shared in our recent NDMV newsletter, the country has experienced several challenges in the last year that have contributed to mounting instability including inflation, civil unrest, COVID-19 and the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Now our Haitian brothers and sisters face the loss of homes, loved ones, and access to food and clean water. We learn more as searches continue, as aftershocks from the earthquake persist, and as a dangerous tropical storm approaches, but here we will provide an update of what we know right now.
We have been able to reach 16 bakery production workers who are alive and as safe as they can be. We are still trying to locate 2 production workers, and 50 sellers across 5 communities. Many of our sellers live in La Savane, a community that is considerably more vulnerable to the earthquake and approaching tropical storm. Currently, there are no NDMV American staff or volunteers on the ground in Haiti.
In searching for our co-workers, we got a vivid picture of the widespread devastation and suffering of the people.
Many of our workers have experienced major trauma including injuries associated with being tossed by the earthquake, anxiety associated with not being able to get out of a second-floor apartment, the devastation of leaving home without loved ones or belongings, and more. Our workers are also worried about their families and community, the bakery, jobs, food, and clean water.
Status of the bakery
As soon as he could on Saturday, our driver/translator, Ulrick, waved down a moto to get a ride to the bakery. He arrived to see our bright yellow building intact. The bakery and café, designed and built by the local community, stands tall. This miracle is thanks to our talented engineer, Bolo, who insured that the building could withstand earthquakes. The fence at the front entrance was the only thing noticeably out of place.
Later, Ephesien, our bakery manager, walked through the bakery and evaluated the effects of the earthquake. It is obvious that there are some initial repairs that are essential to continuing operations at the bakery. Repairs include: machines that shifted during impact, welding the oven back to the exhaust fan and, broken pipes.
Additionally, our new building containing the reverse osmosis water purification system suffered a collapsed wall. It is critical to address these repairs immediately so that we can provide bread and clean water to the people in this desperate situation.
We have six distribution sites where thousands of people that we are in relationship with will be in need of emergency help; not only bread and water, but housing needs. On Monday evening, tropical storm Grace is projected to bring high winds and several inches of rain to Haiti. It is nerve-racking to think of the additional impact it might have on the community of Les Cayes.
We will continue to collaborate with churches and other NGOs in the area to alleviate some of the suffering. We hope you can help Notre Dame do its part to help the Haitian community get through this momentous crisis.
Whatever financial assistance you can contribute will be a help. Send your donation to:
Notre Dame Mission Volunteers
(Attn: Haiti Project)
5405 Loch Raven Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239
OR online: https://www.ndmva.org/donate/
We are able to get donations directly to our Boulangerie Notre Dame leaders who will implement the plan in the local communities where we work/serve every day.
Above all, let us keep praying for God’s special assistance.
Sister Katherine “Sissy” Corr, SNDdeN
Director, Haiti Project
Executive Director, Notre Dame Mission Volunteers
The following video summarizes the development of the bakery: