Caritas started to send staff, aid and to donate money within hours of the earthquake. Caritas Haiti, Catholic Relief Services (a US member of Caritas) and Caritas Switzerland already had programmes in Haiti. They were on the ground assessing the situation and establishing what immediate needs were from the beginning
In the first few months, Caritas’ efforts were focused on providing food, water, sanitation, medical support and shelter to hundreds of thousands of people in need.
Three months after the earthquake, Caritas relief efforts had reached more than 1.5 million survivors. Caritas members from over 60 countries took action from the first day of the disaster to provide food, shelter, livelihoods, clean water, a safe place for children, healthcare, and trauma counselling. Over US $14 million (Euro 10 million) was spent by Caritas in the first three months to respond to the first emergency and start setting up rehabilitation programs.
Until April, Caritas shelter programmes provided 100,000 people with tents or tarpaulins in the capital Port-au-Prince, in Léogâne, Jacmel and other communities. Working with affected communities meant providing meals for 1.5 million people, trucking in 30,000 gallons of clean water to four camps every day, building latrines and giving out hygiene kits, jerry cans and water purification kits.
To prepare Haiti’s regions for an influx of 600,000 displaced people from the capital, Caritas also distributed emergency food aid. “Thanks to its continual presence in the field, Caritas was able to go much further into remote areas than most organizations. It was able to help affected people where they were,” said Bishop Dumas, President of Caritas Haiti.
Caritas cash-for-work programmes employed 2000 Haitians in this time period and over 350,000 people in Haiti benefited from Caritas health programmes. Caritas also held two seed fairs for farmers and gave counselling to more than 2,000 children in camps. Twenty-five school tents were set up and 53 schools received materials to start lessons again.