By Makeda Yohannes/ECS
Before drought struck Ethiopia in 2011, Mulu Jaletu owned five oxen, enough to help his farm support his 12 children. But with no rain falling, his crops would often fail. As his money ran out, he was forced to sell one ox at a time so he could buy food for his family. Eventually he had sold all of his oxen.
Mulu and his older children had to walk four hours a day to work as daily laborers in the town center or on big farms. With those wages, they could only meet their basic needs—there wasn’t enough to save up for an ox for the next rainy season. Mulu gave up hoping. He thought he and his family would never be able to farm on their own land again.
Other subsistence farmers in the town of Meki, in Ethiopia’s Oromiya region, were facing the same dilemma. Everything they […]
“These housing estates are the future for me and my family.” Bénisette, called Bébé by people in the neighbourhood, poses proudly in front of the materials that will be used to build her new house in the Villa Rosa neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince. Behind her, we can see the tent that has provided shelter for the five members of her family since the earthquake on 12 January 2010. The prospect of moving into her new house soon brings a broad smile to Bénisette’s face.
She tells us: “If everything goes well our new house will be completed within two months. It’ll have two stories. With the first instalment of the money we received from Cordaid we bought the building materials. In addition to paying the workers, my family and I take part in the construction by fetching water for the cement and preparing meals for the people working on the site. […]
In Haiti, two years after the earthquake of 12 January 2010, Caritas Confederation members are keeping up their efforts to help the people affected by the disaster. The earthquake, measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, caused 230,000 deaths and affected more than three million people by destroying up to 90% of infrastructures in the hardest hit areas. The generosity of people from around the world has enabled Caritas to set up dozens of projects that have played a part in rebuilding the country and improving the living conditions of Haiti’s most disadvantaged people.
After giving immediate assistance to the people affected by the earthquake (distribution of food, hygiene kits and essential items, as well as provision of temporary shelter), Caritas members have turned their attention to more long-term aid projects.
Caritas members have intervened in various areas of activity. Of course, thousands of homes have been rebuilt, which as Caritas Haiti […]
Cap Rouge, a small town in a remote rural area, is perched on a humid plateau around 10 kilometres from Jacmel, which is considered to be the major town in south-eastern Haiti.
After the earthquake in January 2010, VEDEK, a farmers’ organisation that is very active in the area, counted more than 500 damaged houses there, of which half had been completely destroyed. Therefore, VEDEK and PAPDA (Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development) set up an extensive project to rebuild 100 houses and 20 cisterns in order to restore water access to affected households. The project was based on the expertise of CRAterre, an organisation specialising in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of traditional houses. Secours Catholique and CRaterre are joint signatories of a manifesto advocating the promotion of local building practices as a response to reconstruction programmes.
A process of repairing and improving housing that incorporates local know-how and new construction […]
Fednor, a farmer, is preparing what will soon be the main source of food for his family – a rice field. In Joque, in the province of Les Cayes, rice growing is the most common agricultural activity. The rice fields extend along each side of the road and provide a living for the majority of households in the area.
There’s no machinery here; everything is done by hand. Fednor is up to his knees in mud. Equipped with an old spade, he’s digging the rice field and hopes to see a crop growing soon that will enable him to feed his family and earn a little money.
He’s surrounded by other busy members of the community. Men and women are all working together on building a project that will change their lives. A break is arranged to meet the community and get an idea of what they’re doing.
“Without water there’s no […]
“When the school collapsed, what was essential was finding the children. The rest was just material,” said Sr. Josette Drouinaud of the Mère Delia Institute for primary and secondary school girls in the bustling Delmas neighbourhood of the Port-au-Prince.
When the earthquake of 12 January struck Haiti, the primary school crumbled. The students had finished classes for the day thankfully and none were inside the building. A flood of parents arrived at the collapsed school to make sure the Sisters had survived. “They were worried about us, as well,” she said.
Two years later, Development and Peace (Caritas Canada) is helping Sr. Drouinaud’s congregation rebuild a new school for a better future for the children.
By March, the primary school had managed to re-open by sharing space with the secondary school, improvising classes under trees in the schoolyard and eventually installing large tents that house up to 70 students at a time.
Food security, especially that of children, is a major problem in Haiti. Caritas has put in place various initiatives in the province of Les Cayes in southern Haiti to deal with this issue. With the help of CRS, the local Caritas has set up more than 200 mothers groups. What’s a mothers group?
“As the name suggests, it’s a group of mothers from a particular district with whom local Caritas workers develop activities in order to improve families’ food security and living conditions,” explains Jean Harry Dominique, the CRS agricultural projects coordinator for the region. To get a better idea, we joined him on a field trip to Roche-à-Bateau.
Mutual financial assistance
“I’d like to set up a small business selling rice, flour an sugar. The last time I made a decent profit. I’ve asked for 1,000 gourdes (US$25) to buy products.” Ariette Tessono is speaking. She belongs to a mothers group […]
Some were trapped in rubble for hours. Other lost loved ones. Thousands saw their homes destroyed. For survivors of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, grief and pain became constant companions. As Caritas raced to get families water, food, and shelter, its aid workers realized that mental health care was just as great a need.
“More than a year after the January 2010 earthquake, many Haitians still found it hard to enter buildings,” says Boris Budosan, Mental Health Advisor for Cordaid (Caritas Netherlands). In some cases, experiencing the terrifying earthquake led to more serious conditions such as severe depression and even psychoses. Stress and anxiety were widespread, sometimes leading to violence and drug or alcohol problems.
In Haiti, there is little specialized care available to help people vulnerable to mental health problems. Cordaid, which has worked in Haiti for years, stepped into the gap. It developed programmes that help both children and adults cope […]
By Laura Sheahen
“When you’re hungry, if you have seeds, you start cooking.” Kotola Susana grins ruefully as he describes the situation of many of his fellow Kenyan farmers. After years of poor rains culminated in a devastating drought in East Africa, farmers ran out of options. In southern Kenya, where they raise corn, sorghum and other grains, fields were dry and brown. In the north, where most families live off their herds, people watched goats and cows grow rib-thin and die.
The drought of 2011 destroyed agricultural and livestock safeguards that millions of East Africans rely on. “People ate up their seeds. The seed banking system had collapsed,” says Shadrack Musyoka, who works for Caritas in a southern farming area called Kitui. “And a lot of seed was wasted when people planted early and the rains didn’t come.
“People who were traditionally OK were suddenly not OK.”
In an area of northern […]
By Laura Sheahen
Alice had always been first in her class as a child, but now she kept getting kicked out of secondary school. “Every time people were sent home for lack of school fees, my name was on the list,” she says. “I was ashamed.”
Education in Kenya is technically free, but in poor villages, parents are required to give a few dollars a month to pay teachers or even fix the school roof. So Alice would leave classes for a few weeks until her farming family could scrape together enough money to send her back. Then she’d struggle to catch up. “I had to work harder,” she remembers. “I didn’t sleep very much.”
In fits and starts, she managed what seemed to be impossible for a village child whose parents never went to school: she was accepted into a university.
“I studied organic chemistry and math,” she says. “I tested organic […]
Your support helped over one million people in East Africa overcome their worst drought in 60 years. You made it possible for Caritas to distribute emergency food, create water projects, and give out seeds so farmers can rebuild.
In November 2011, Caritas Communications Officer Laura Sheahen visited Kenya to see the community response in action. Explore the features below to find out how your support made a difference.
When drought pits neighbour against neighbour
“Herdsmen came here looking for pasture,” says Mwinzi Munyoki Tutu, a young farmer in southern Kenya. “We refused.”
‘You heard our cries’: hunger in East Africa
“I met a woman who was crying because she couldn’t remember the last time she had seen so much food.”
Seeds of hope after drought
“When you’re hungry, if you have seeds, you start cooking.” Kotola Susana grins ruefully as he describes the situation of many of his fellow Kenyan farmers.
Kenyan students back to school
Alice had […]
Available in French and Spanish By Ryan Worms “Just a little while ago, it was very hard for me to find something to eat. I didn’t feel strong, I didn’t know what to do and had no one to help me. Now I’ve got my energy back,” said sixty-year-old Olivia Jean Louis. She is part of the Caritas Les Cayes Elders Assistance and Supervision Programme set up by Caritas Haiti in partnership with Caritas Spain. We’re in the diocese of Les Cayes in Laborde in the parish of St Vincent de Paul. Fr Aldagène Louisnel, head of the local Caritas, shows us round the house that has recently welcomed eight elderly women in dire circumstances. “We’ve settled the poorest of the community’s elderly in this house,” he said. “The new programme has been in place for two months. We can feed another 25 elderly people every day as a result. […]