Pandora Lawler’s fifth-graders sponsor a little girl named Christella.

LEWISTON – Sisters of Charity Health System added a Haiti Sponsorship Program to its Haiti ministry last year. The program supports the educational needs of children in Haiti who attend schools there run by the sisters who founded St. Mary’s in 1888.

Numerous employees, departments and families have joined the effort to provide school, uniforms, books and lunches to the needy children.

When word of the program reached Pandora Lawler, fifth-grade teacher at St. Joseph’s School, she asked to sponsor a child. Many in the community know Lawler for the creative ways she finds to engage the social conscience of her students.

Lawler’s class sponsored a little girl named Christella. The children received a note from Christella and have sent cards of their own.

Lawler recently asked if she could bring her class to the St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center campus to learn from some of the employees who have visited Haiti. On Feb. 16, Doris Belanger, RN, who coordinates that part of the Haiti ministry, gathered a few employees who have gone to Haiti, including Ellen Boldon, clinical dietitian; Jill Hurd, RN; Claudette Reny, radiology; and Mike Grimmer, administration. They shared slides and photos, stories and artwork from Haiti.

Hurd, speaking of her experience of adopting three Haitian children, shared how her children transitioned to American culture. The children also had the opportunity to taste a Haitian dish of beans and rice to get an appreciation of what a child like Christella might be eating.

The class presented Belanger with checks totaling $475 for Christella from numerous fundraisers at school. The older grades at St. Joseph’s collected $50 more after the visit, and the children are hoping they can buy a farm animal for Christella’s family.

The St. Mary’s visit included a lunch and a tour of the hospital campus by Grimmer.

In addition to the sponsorship program, Sisters of Charity Health System supports a facility for homeless Haitian women in Jeremie, also run by the Sisters of Charity.

Work teams from the medical center go to Haiti annually to offer assistance and provide medical supplies to the St. Boniface Hospital in Fonds des Blancs and at the orphanage run by Lewiston native, Father Marc Boisvert, in Les Cayes.

For more information about any of the Haiti ministries, contact the mission effectiveness office at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center at 777-8805.


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