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Over €2,400 was raised for Haiti in Maura Gavin’s house last evening.  Maeve Bracken from Clara, Offaly spent two years in Haiti and is returning to see works undertaken since she was last there.  She will take the money raised directly to Haiti which will help with further development. (See article below from January 2010)


Offaly natives survive Haiti earthquake

Story by Danielle Harney

Friday, 15th January, 2010 12:02pm

Two Offaly natives have survived the horrific earthquake in Haiti that occurred last Tuesday while former All-Ireland Birr hurler Darren Hanniffy is heading up the GOAL aid mission to the island.

Maeve Bracken, originally from Clara, and Sr Helen Ryder, from Banagher, were among the Irish survivors this week.

Maeve is a lay missionary with Viatores Christi and has been working in Haiti for the last two years.

A spokesperson for Viatores Christi yesterday (Thursday) told the Offaly Independent that both Maeve and a second worker, Gena Heraty from Mayo, are alive and well.

“They are going to stay and help out. It’s an utter scene of devastation out there. Gena made contact briefly. Maeve is coming to the end of her stay so she’s due home next month,” she said. “People have been extremely generous so far. They really need your prayers as well.”

Maeve has spent her two year assignment working with children in the St Helen orphanage in Kay Christine, where there are 33 special needs children, most who were abandoned when they were very young due to their disabilities. Maeve set up a small card-making business to generate income and encourage independence for the children.

The orphanage is located in the mountains, about an hour from the capital Port au Prince. They could feel the tremors when the earthquake occurred. The organisation was able to allay the concerns of Maeve’s brother Martin Bracken, who lives in Tullamore. Meave is due to make contact herself with both family and the charity.

Sr Helen Ryder from the La Sainte Union convent in Banagher also survived the massive earthquake.

Sister Ryder has worked in Haiti for over 20 years and is based in the capital Port au Prince. There are three La Sainte Union nuns carrying out charity work in the country – Sr Helen from Banagher, a second from Athlone and a third from Dublin. They teach, look after the poor and provide services in centres specially set up to help the disadvantaged. The Banagher convent had difficulty in contacting them on Wednesday when the news broke, however people were able to eventually let them know that all three sisters are safe. “Sr Helen was home in the summer and so we’re very worried about her now. We have no details at all but just that they are safe,” said Sr Mary from the Banagher convent yesterday. Both of Sr Helen’s parents were teachers in the Banagher locality but she has no other family left in the area.

And former All-Ireland hurler Darren Hanniffy from Birr is now in Haiti and is in charge of the GOAL aid response to the disaster.

The agency, which works in neighbouring Honduras, has sent in a team led by Darren Hanniffy, a civil engineer, to assess the seriousness of the situation and to mobilise a response.

“From our contacts on the ground in Port-au-Prince we have established that this is a horrific catastrophe which will acquire a major international effort. GOAL will do all it can to ease the suffering of these desperately poor people,” said Mr Hanniffy before he left for Haiti. “On the ground in Port-au-Prince the GOAL operatives will link up with workers from the Irish house building agency, Haven, who have pledged their support.”

Meanwhile, the house-building charity Haven – with whom Birr businessman Stephen Grant travelled to the island last year – said that none of its staff had been killed in the earthquake.

The earthquake, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, hit the capital Port-au-Prince and other areas of the country, and was felt in other countries in the region. It was shortly followed by two strong aftershocks of 5.9 and 5.5. The most affected area is Haiti’s West Province with a population of 2.2 million. Up to 100,000 people have died already.