Sr. Isabel Solá Matas from Spain but living and working in Haiti for over 8 years was tragically and fatally shot and killed as she went about her daily business in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Friday 2nd September.
Sr. Isabel (known and loved as simply Isa) died instantly at the scene of the shooting amid heavy traffic in the city. Another occupant, a Haitian friend and colleague of Sr. Isa was travelling with her in the car at the time. She was also injured at the scene but was later discharged from hospital.
So many tributes have poured in in memory of Isa who has been called an ‘energetic’ and ‘enterprising’ woman and one with ‘vision’ and a love for the poor.
She devoted her life to working with the poor and worked in Equatorial Guinea in Africa for 15 years prior to moving to Haiti. On Friday morning when she was gunned down she had just left a Port-au-Prince bank with some money to begin a new education project in the area.
She has been tireless in her fundraising initiatives to build schools in and around Port-au-Prince for the poor and disadvantaged and was also the visionary behind a prostheses clinic she established in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that killed many people she knew.
Through the clinic local people were trained to provide prostheses to those who lost limbs as a result of the earthquake and when that was up and running well by locally trained personnel, Isa moved on to providing a mobile health clinic to rural areas around the capital.
Isa touched so many peoples’ lives and over the past few days many of them have visited her home to pay their respects and offer support and comfort to those left distraught since her passing. At 51 years of age, she had many more initiatives to realise but these have been cut short in the blink of an eye. However, the Congregation of the Religious Sisters of Jesus and Mary will continue their mission in Haiti despite the risks involved in this tumultuous country.
Isa joined the Sisters when she was 19 years of age and had one purpose in life, to be of service, useful to others, particularly to those who cannot really help themselves.
She certainly did this and so much more as those who knew and loved her will testify.
Pope Francis honoured Sr. Isa alongside Mother Teresa as he formally declared Mother Teresa a saint at a ceremony in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday last, saying, “Let us pray especially for the Spanish missionary sister, Sister Isabel, who was killed two days ago in the capital of Haiti.”
He also praised all religious women missionaries who silently go about their work in difficult and risky environments.
Having lived and worked among these women for the past three months I have to concur with him!