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Sister Mary Finnick '60 to Speak about Haiti on Sept 22

Buffalo, New York – September 9, 2014 – Since the January 2010 earthquake, modern sanitation is scarce in Haiti, despite international relief group efforts. As one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, poor sanitation adds to the risk for diseases such as cholera, that spreads primarily through fecal contamination of water. It's estimated that cholera kills about 1,000 Haitians a year.

This dire situation in Haiti is what Sister Mary Finnick, GNSH (BSN '60) will discuss on Monday, September 22 at 12 p.m. in the Blue Lounge (First Floor of the College Center) on the D'Youville campus. The free presentation will include a lunch.

Sister Mary currently serves as director of the Matthew 25 House in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. During her talk, she will speak about current conditions in Haiti and the efforts of the nonprofit organization, Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL). Sister Mary has spent the past decade in Haiti and is a member of SOIL’s Board of Directors.

SOIL designs and builds low-cost ecological sanitation toilets made from locally available materials. Since building Haiti’s first urban waste composting site in 2009, SOIL has become the largest waste treatment operation in the country.

According to the organization, the majority of sanitation projects in Haiti are implemented without forethought as to how the waste will be treated.

“Most toilets flush directly into rivers or the ocean and latrines are either abandoned when full or emptied untreated into sites that, again, leach directly into rivers or the ocean. SOIL is committed, not only to providing safe sanitation, but also to safely treating human waste through the process of composting.”

Today, more than 2600 Haitians are using SOIL EcoSan toilets in their homes as part of SOIL’s social business pilot for sustainably providing sanitation services.

“Requests for new toilets are coming in faster than we can build them,” they state.

An additional 5500 individuals are accessing SOIL’s emergency public toilets in a critical effort to combat the spread of cholera in Haiti’s most vulnerable communities.

Sister Mary Finnick holds multiple degrees in nursing as well as a doctorate in education. In 2010, Sister Mary celebrated her 60th anniversary as a Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart. She has worked as a primary school educator, a staff nurse, Director of Nursing and a nurse educator at several institutions of higher education including Temple University.

Sister Mary spent many years working in Peru and Nicaragua leading social assistance programs and has been director of the Matthew 25 Guest House in Port-au-Prince since 2005.

“… my life has been far from boring and graced with families, personal and religious; friends and opportunities to meet and interact with wonderful people," she says.

Sister Mary has appeared on The Today Show to discuss her work helping people.


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