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In the course of a few minutes, Peru’s massive 2007 earthquake destroyed everything that some communities had spent years building.Houses collapsed, roads crumbled and essentials such as food and drinking water were suddenly hard to come by for many of the 650,000 people affected.

Caritas launched an emergency appeal in the aftermath of the earthquake. Over the following months, generous donors from around the world gave over US$10 million to help people rebuild their communities and lives in central Peru.

Initially, Caritas focused on helping 55,000 families by providing them with water, food and shelter, blankets and cooking and hygiene kits.

The most vulnerable victims of the earthquake were targeted: children under five, senior citizens, people who were incapacitated and women who were heads of households.

Caritas helped the sick and injured  by providing over 40 metric tons of medical aid and helped people get to hospital to receive treatment.

As many people didn’t have chance to gather their possessions before leaving their homes, Caritas also distributed over 515 metric tons of clothes and shoes.

But people didn’t just need material goods, so Caritas offered moral support to over 2,100 people by training clergy and lay people to provide psychological and spiritual help to deal with the fear and uncertainty caused by the earthquake. It also created support groups for people suffering from post-traumatic stress.

Once people’s immediate needs had been taken care of, Caritas focused its efforts on helping people become more independent.

The people of Peru didn’t just passively receive aid. Caritas gave out tools and materials so communities could participate in reconstruction work by moving rubble and building shelters and latrines.

Women were seen as key players in the post-earthquake strategy. They ran the communal kitchens set up by Caritas and were involved in the building of shelters.

Caritas taught them how to weigh and measure children to track the onset of malnutrition with the aim of preventing it, how to work out the nutritional value of food and how to ensure good hygiene standards in food preparation.

In the long-term and regardless of disasters, Caritas runs nutrition, water and sanitation and development projects across Peru and helps people generate income through the country’s natural resources.

In May 2008, Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, President of Caritas Internationalis, was presented with an award by the Peruvian Government in recognition of his work as head of Caritas to help the victims of the 2007 earthquake.