About one hundred and fifty years ago, in 1862, the first Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus arrived in the United States from England, fulfilling the dream of their foundress, Cornelia Connelly, to have convents and schools of the Holy Child in the land of her birth. Our mission is the same today as it was when Cornelia began the Society – to help others to understand that God lives and acts in us and in our world and to rejoice in His presence.
Nineteen years ago, Sister Ann Joyce Peters, SHCJ and two lay volunteers arrived in the Dominican Republic to join FE Y ALEGRIA, a Jesuit-run center for out-reach programs. No running water, no electricity, no telephone, but many children from the Haitian families who lived under deplorable conditions in the Batey greeted them.
Today a Montessori School, Sister Mary Alice’s dream, is ready to welcome three and four year olds from Lecheria, to prepare them for the future when they will join their brothers and sisters at the school.
The WELL BABY CLINIC, at this same mission, which is organized professionally by Dr. John McLennan from Calgary University in Canada, is run for the children of Lecheria (all Haitian immigrants) age 0 to 4 years to monitor their growth. Anemia is a big problem, so at one year and three years the children are tested in the lab, the results taken weekly to a child specialist who prescribes iron and folic acid according to need. Mothers receive education on breast feeding, healthy foods, parasites, clean water, etc. Children who do not show improvement or are not growing properly are taken to the specialist. Almost every family in the Batey comes to the clinic, so it is really valued by the Haitian families of Lecheria. Sister Kathleen King, SHCJ rejoices because the WELL BABY CLINIC has saved the lives of so many little children.
Young women, just out of College, have joined our SHCJ as volunteers in the school, and lay couples with medical background have given many months at the clinic. The people of Lecheria may live under deplorable conditions, but the children have a school where they love to come and the families have a clinic where someone cares and where medical help makes such a difference.