Note from Sister Annie about the Miracle of 2013: Rejoice with Us!!! Pass it On!

February 25, 2013

Hello Friends of Damien House,

Peace and Greetings from Guayaquil!

We have great news for you! I have just signed the papers with the Municipality of Guayaquil allowing the Hansen patients the privilege of calling Damien House their home forever. This is a dream come true for them because they will never have to worry about being asked to leave, nor having their haven closed. The Mayor will sign and seal the papers and in three weeks, we will have a celebration with a liturgy in our chapel rejoicing and remembering all of you in our prayers of thanksgiving for this miracle of 2013!!!!

With this acquirement, comes new responsibilities. By law, we must hire two registered nurses. We will also be offering the evening meal, which is presently being served by the Hospital of Infectious Diseases. To accommodate these changes, we will be hiring one more person in the kitchen, one extra maintenance person, and one person to be in charge of laundry. These positions are currently provided by the hospital next door and will be removed the day we receive the papers.  Damien House will also now be responsible for paying all the electricity and the water bill, which were formerly shared expenses with the hospital next door.

As we face the challenges of this year, we look for your support, now more than ever. In 2012, one hundred and twenty two new cases of Hansen´s have been reported in Ecuador. This is the highest number since I have been in the country for the past 25 years. However, the reality is that there may be many more that go undiagnosed. No one is seeking out these people, they are just appearing in public clinics around the country. It is estimated, that for every person diagnosed, there are 3-5 that go undiagnosed.

One of these 122 people diagnosed last year, is now our newest resident. He is only twenty three years old and is a first year student at the University of Guayaquil studying the arts. In the three weeks that this young man has been with us, he has already become very vocal about this disease. He has taken photos and hopes to soon make a video to help us in our education about Hansen´s and also to help with fundraising in Ecuador to help us survive these tough economic times.

Our home is unlike any other in the country. We have now become a refuge for those who need a temporary shelter to hide away while they react from the disease like our young new patient.  As long as Hansen´s exists, people will need a place where they will feel safe and lovingly cared for while they receive their treatment with dignity and respect.  

Damien House would not be open today, if it were not for your love, prayers, and support. Would you be willing to go one more step for us as a voice for those who still live with the stigma of Hansen´s? Would you send this letter to family, friends, neighbors, your workplace, Book Clubs, civic groups, church (Propagation of Faith Office in Your Dioceses), your local bishop, school, and prayer groups, Lions and Rotary Clubs, Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis? Today people are looking for charities with little to no overhead, Damien House, Inc in Chicago is only a mailing address and generous volunteers offer their time with needed tasks. Every penny of your donation goes straight to Ecuador for the care of patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can make a donation by using the JustGive button on our homepage www.thedamienhouse.org or by mailing it Damien House, c/o Suzanne Belz-President, 4407 North Elston Avenue. Chicago, IL 60630. Also be sure to check out our videos on the Damien House YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/DamienHouse?feature=plcp . We invite you to write us at DamienHouse@gmail.com with other fundraising ideas you may have.

We believe in Miracles and in You! May God Bless You and keep you well.  Know that all of your friends in Guayaquil pray for you everyday.
Much Love,                                                                                                                                                                                                       Sister Annie Credidio, BVM


Its Beginning to Look alot like Christmas..

Ester (Left), Teresita (Right-Standing) and Leonor 
(Righ-Sitting) Sort through the Damien House 
Christmas Decorations 
The past two weeks have been a busy time here at Damien House as we enter Advent and prepare for the Christmas season. The last two weeks were spent decorating our hospital home for Christmas. Patients, staff, and volunteers all worked together to transform Damien into a winter wonderland! Almost every door has some sort of wreath, stocking, or other decoration on it. Both the men and women´s section also have a Christmas tree, complete with lights, ornaments, and of course a star on top! Of course we have also decorated the office with our own Small tree and Santa Claus figurine!

Left to Right: Alcedes, UEES Volunteer Alex, and Leon
decorate the Christmas Tree out in the mens patio
Many of the women have also been working for months on various Christmas crafts and cards to give to our visitors and benefactors during this holiday season. The first of the cards and gifts were delivered to our printer here in Guayaquil yesterday and the patients will continue to hand them out to the visitors that come to the foundation this month.  Sonia, one of the patients, has also been working hard to sew Christmas pillows for the staff here at Damien House while The Rostro and UEES volunteers have been busy helping stuff the pillows. Decemeber will be a busy month but a very enjoyable one as we welcome many various groups into our hospital home!

Left to Right: UEES Volunteer Karolina, Jacinto, and UEES Volunteer
Sara hang the garland in the men´s patio


Life´s Little Surprises

           Last Wednesday started out as a pretty normal day of work. I walked around greeting all of the patients in the morning stopping and talking to those who seemed like they wantd to talk or just wanted someone to listen. Then I walked over to greet Manuel (also known as Abuleo as I think he is the oldest resident here). I have a very hard time understanding his Spanish at times and have struggled to understand more than a word or two of what he is saying. This has made it difficult for me to get to know him or feel like I could be good company for him.
            But last week I decided I would just sit with him for awhile and listen to his radio together. Soon one of the nurses came over and asked if I knew how to play Dominoes and I said yes of course (I think knowing how to play Dominoes is almost an required skill for being a Damien House Volunteer since all the men love dominoes so much). But anyways so then we decided to play some Dominoes! So Manuel got out his Dominoes and the three of us started to play. I did not even know that he owned Dominoes, let alone that he could play. Usually he is just sitting in his chair listening to his radio. Honestly I had underestimated him. We ended up playing Dominoes together for probably close to an hour and it was a great experience!
            We might not always be able to share conversations toegther but playing Dominoes is something we can do together and a way we can get to know eachother a little bit. I have found because of the language barrier here, I have had to change the way I form realtionships with the people here in Ecaudor at times. This has been challenging and frustrating at times but has also opened up doors to have many new and different experiences and to chgallenge myslef to find creative ways to relate to people.



New Video

Check out the New you Tube Video of John F Kennedy Catholic School´s Visit to Damien House

Video was produced by Carrie Leonard.


Also checkout other Damien House Videos on Our YouTuibe Channel Here



Last Thursday was an exciting day at Damien House. We decided to have a Bingo! The new volunteers (Sarah, Alex, and Jimmy) who are study abroad students at the local university in Guayaquil coordinated and set up everything. They sorted through various donations to find prizes for the patients and made sure everything was ready for our Thursday morning Bingo. Everyone gathered in the men´s patio area at 10am and the fun began! Nearly all of the patients participated and it was a huge success. Segundo was the first one to win and he chose a blanket as his prize! All of the patients won at some point and were able to pick from various prizes. Some of them even won twice! The most coveted prizes were Dr. Seuss T-shirts and sweatshirts that the last medical team donated. Blankets and stuffed animals were also popular prizes. All of the patients were delighted with their prizes and enjoyed showing them off to the camera. Everyone also received some Nestea to enjoy while they played and a bag of cereal to enjoy later. The day was a great success and a nice change from the normal routine of the day.

Mercedes and her prize!
Segundo wins the first prize!
UEES Volunteers (Jimmy, Sara, and Alex) and Rostro de Cristo Volunteer Chris pose with Bingo Prizes


New Mural

Lots of changes have been happening at Damien House these days. The women´s kitchen renovation project is complete but unfortunately some old murals got erased in the process.  These new blank walls created a wonderful canvas for Sister Annie´s friend, Lucia, to create a work of art here at Damien. She spent about a week here at Damien house painting a beautiful landscape scene, as well as some flowers, butterflies, and hummingbirds on the various walls in front of the women´s section. Thank you Lucia for your wonderful artwork. We loved having you here and many of the patients loved watching you paint, especially Blanca!
Blana (Left) watches Lucia (Right) Paint


Shout out to Santa Clara University

Last week we had our first group of Rostro de Cristo Retreatents for the year. Twelve undergrad students and one graduate student came to visit from Santa Clara University. Their trip was led by Mike Nettle who was a former volunteer with Rostro de Cristo at Damien House.

On Monday, we talked to the group about Hansen´s disease and then game them a tour and were able to talk with the patients and staff briefly. On Wednesday the group returned and were free to wander around and talk to whoever they wanted to visit with. Luckily their were lots of Spanish Speakers in the group so they were able to divide up and visit lots of different patients! The group got to know many of the people here and heard all kinds of stories ranging from how people came to Damien House, to how patients spend their days, and what holidays are like here at Damien House.  Patients and staff were all happy to see that Mike was back to visit (although some of the older female patients were disappointed to find out that he was no longer single!). The visitors also got a chance to support the patients by buying various crafts that the patients had made so the visitors walked away with beautiful peace birds, bracelets, necklaces, crosses, paintings, and even a new hammock. Before the group left, Mercedes and husband Italo also played the accordion and sang for the group.  It was a beautiful song and got everyone dancing and many of the other patients came over to listen! I am sure the visitors will remember their visit for many years!