July 7, 2011

Long-term solutions in Haiti

By |7 July 2011|

There is a long-term answer to alleviating poverty: helping people build up resilient livelihoods. Secours Catholique, the French national Caritas, worked with local people to improve their food production, supporting the most vulnerable with food rations so they did not fall back on eating seed stocks. Through food-for-work programmes in Les Cayes in southern Haiti, Secours Catholique helped communities to build flood defences. Now, extreme weather will not carry off their crops, as it has done in other years. A sustainable and safer future has also been the focus in rebuilding houses. “It’s all different now.We are a lot more careful when we build,” said LucienWilner, a carpenter trained and employed by Cordaid, the Caritas member from the Netherlands. “Before the earthquake we did not build in this way, but now we won’t get so many people dying.” Lucien is part of a programme to tackle Haiti’s 50 percent unemployment [...]

Bringing business back to Haiti

By |7 July 2011|

Other Caritas programmes in Haiti are tackling the longer-term problem of the poverty trap while at the same time helping people get back on their feet after the tragedy of January 2010. Caritas Slovakia noticed that local businesswomen were struggling to keep their enterprises afloat after the earthquake. So many Haitians were hard up they couldn’t afford to buy things like clothes in the markets so the women stallholders were about to go bust. Caritas Slovakia launched a micro-finance programme, “Mothers of the Market”, in June, starting with 20 women. The women were given business training to complement the practical experience they already had and a one-off grant of $500. Another 30 women began training in October. One of them is Daphney Nozan, a 26-year-old single mother with a seven-year-old daughter. Daphne’s clothes stall was failing but began to prosper again after the training: she made a clever switch to [...]

Chile overcomes massive quake and tsunami

By |7 July 2011|

It was the worst disaster Chile had suffered in half a century, not only a strong earthquake but a tsunami too. Two million people were affected. Caritas’s emergency response began immediately: its strong local networks helping it reach the most vulnerable people in the most remote areas, often more rapidly than the government could.

Supporting half a million people in Darfur

By |7 July 2011|

Community centres are drawing in more displaced people in Darfur, giving them stronger bonds while also teaching them practical skills as many enter their eighth year of living in relief camps. Although Darfur has all but disappeared from the headlines, fighting worsened in 2010, with an additional 250,000 people displaced from their homes. In the Bilel camp, building and welding is taught at the community centre. David Kat, the Adult Education Officer there says the skills are taken back into the camp and shared: “The men become trainers themselves. They can also try for jobs in town and look beyond the narrow confines of the camp.” In 2010, Caritas Internationalis provided half million people with assistance, working in cooperation with the Action by Churches Together (ACT), an alliance of Protestant and Orthodox Christian agencies. Since 2004, Caritas and its partners have raised $90 million for the people of Darfur. Caritas member [...]

A widow’s mite in Haiti’s earthquake

By |7 July 2011|

The fragility of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, was all too clear. The earth convulsed and down tumbled the weak homes, schools and hospitals. More than 230,000 people were killed by the earthquake and over three million affected, in the slum-plagued capital, Port-au-Prince, nearby towns like Jacmel and Léogâne and elsewhere. The 12 January brought one of the biggest disasters in recent times to the people of Haiti. Caritas’s long-term presence meant it could respond to the emergency right away. Caritas Haiti has a strong national network, with 10 offices in dioceses across the country. Other Caritas members like Catholic Relief Services from the USA and Caritas Switzerland are well established in Haiti. Just across the border, Caritas Dominican Republic helped quickly set up an emergency relief pipeline. Near neighbour Caritas Mexico immediately sent three nuns who were qualified nurses and a search and rescue team who pulled [...]

Strengthening Caritas

By |7 July 2011|

“Financial reporting of a high standard is very helpful. It attracts extra financial and other resources,” said Dr Benedict Alo D’Rozario, Executive Director of Caritas Bangladesh, drawing on lessons he learned in his student days in the USA in the 1980s. Dr Alo shared his experiences with staff from the Caritas Asia and Oceania regions in Bangkok in October, at a workshop on the Caritas Financial Capacity Building Programme. He said, “In finance, one never knows when or where one will be asked for information,” and that the answer given must be correct, clear and transparent. As part of its “Strengthening Caritas” policy, Caritas Internationalis’ General Secretariat has developed a three-year plan to build financial capacity and transparency in all 165 members, with training and the establishment of new accounting systems. Frank Boomers, the Programme Coordinator, says keeping a tight rein on funds will benefit everyone, from donors to beneficiaries. “If [...]

Taking the long view in Sudan

By |6 July 2011|

Andy Schaefer, CRS technical adviser for emergency coordination, was in Agok as part of the Caritas response in Sudan that supports  more than 100,000 people forced from their homes by recent violence in the contested border area of Abyei. CRS is a Caritas member. One thing that has become apparent to me while working to meet the needs of those displaced from Abyei is that the Church’s presence really is a symbol of hope. A few Sundays ago during Mass, local parish priest, Fr. Biong gave a speech about helping people to rebuild their lives and the need for continued support during this difficult time. This is such an important message for everyone to hear: the displaced, host communities, and those working to help meet their needs. Priests like Fr. Biong help people to feel that they have not been abandoned. He continues to be with his people seeking refuge in Agok, [...]

Darfur stories: Changing lives in 2011

By |1 July 2011|

  Life and hope for Fatima  Fatima is a 35-year-old mother of six and from the Fur tribe in Darfur. She fled her home in Jebel Marra in 2004 when fighting flared up in the area. Her father, husband, two brothers and her mother-in-law died in the conflict. Fatima headed to Nertiti, but they were attacked again before they arrived. Eventually they reached their destination, homeless and without hope. She received some food from people who already lived in the camp and she used her cloak to provide shelter for her children. Then the rains started and there was no one to look after them. She had never thought that this would one day have been her destiny. No shelter to protect her children from the sun, heat and rain. No a jerry can to bring water. She decided to go to Hassa Hissa camp in Zalingei where her relatives lived. [...]

June 28, 2011

How Caritas helped Myanmar after Nargis

By |28 June 2011|

It was one of the deadliest cyclones in history. In May 2008, a storm powerful enough to blow away hundreds of thousands of houses hit Myanmar. Along with the resulting tidal surge it led to the deaths of 140,000 people. One of the main problems for aid agencies wanting to help the people of Myanmar in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis was gaining access to the flooded communities. View photo gallery Caritas’s grassroots organisations along with the local Church were already there living as part of the communities that became isolated. This meant that they had not only easy access to assess people’s needs and deliver aid but their help was welcomed by villagers. Jamie Isbister, who worked on the crisis for Caritas, said at the time, “Local church representatives enjoy a high level of trust among the affected population: they speak the local languages and dialects, have an intimate knowledge and thorough [...]

Compassion in action in southern Sudan

By |11 June 2011|

Andy Schaefer, CRS technical adviser for emergency coordination, is in Agok, Sudan working to assist some of the more than 90,000 people displaced by recent violence in the contested border area of Abyei, Sudan. CRS is a Caritas member. He shares with us his impressions from the field. Whenever a person responds to an emergency situation you have to face the grief and loss of those affected. There is so much work to be done and so many people who need assistance. It is also in these moments that you see the real face of humanity and the deep compassion people can show to their fellow man. I’ve seen two such examples since arriving to the Agok area of Sudan. Agok is a town that used to number about ten thousand but has recently swelled to the tens of thousands since conflict broke out in the neighboring town of Abyei. The [...]

May 1, 2011

10,000 people given Caritas aid after Japan’s earthquake

By |1 May 2011|

By Caritas Japan staff Caritas Japan staff members and volunteers have been providing food and other aid to 10,000 survivors following the 11 March earthquake and tsunami. The earthquake was largest to have hit Japan on record and the tsunami caused destruction as far as 10 km inland. The quake caused a serious accident and a 20 km evacuation zone at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The overall cost could exceed $300 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster ever. In some areas, the transitional shelters had been ready and some families have already moved in, but many of the affected are still living in evacuation facilities.They are provided enough food, but are suffering from big stress under this abnormal lifestyle. The food from Caritas includes ready-to-eat meals, noodles and vegetables, while the other relief items include hygiene kits, clothing and school kits in both the tsunami and the nuclear affected [...]

February 24, 2011

Chile one year after the earthquake

By |24 February 2011|

Caritas Internationalis has been supporting earthquake victims from the first day of the disaster with emergency aid and long term rehabilitation projects. Altogether, the Caritas response reached more than 800,000 people.

New homes for quake survivors in Chile

By |24 February 2011|

Just last week, another 20 families in Curanilahue in Chile could move into their new houses. Providing people who have lost their homes with decent shelter has been a major focus of Caritas’ rehabilitation programmes after the 27 February earthquake. So far, Caritas completed 235 new homes for earthquake victims and repaired or improved 594 homes. "Receiving the keys to our own house is a great joy for us, even greater when you consider that this help has come from so far away. We finally have a decent home! We were waiting for it eagerly after what had happened to us. I thank the team of Caritas and all who helped and are helping us,” said Juana Carrillo, one of the beneficiaries from Curanilahue. In addition to the reconstruction work on houses, Caritas has fitted out 54 toilets in rural areas and delivered 432 household item kits to families who lost all or [...]

Caritas in Chile one year after the earthquake

By |24 February 2011|

One year after a devastating earthquake followed by a tsunami that hit Chile, Caritas is continuing to help thousands of victims rebuild their homes and lives. Altogether, the Caritas response reached more than 800,000 people.

Caritas helps Chile rebuild

By |24 February 2011|

By Lorenzo Figueroa, Secretary General of Caritas Chile  One year on from the earthquake and tsunami the poor are in a more precarious state. Indeed, an official government study reports that today Chile has 500 thousand more poor people as a result of the disaster. Road infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, has been rebuilt. But thousands of Chileans are still living in very poor-quality temporary accommodation, called mediaguas (shacks), in "villages" or camps that are not equipped with adequate services. The process of allocating grants for housing and the building of new homes has been slow, as people have to wait two or three years for more permanent solutions. Rehabilitation of some key services, such as healthcare, is also progressing slowly. For example, people in the Maule region are still being treated in temporary hospitals. The victims have had to deal with being forgotten by society and the authorities, as 2010 was marked [...]