By Jessica Howell, Catholic Relief Services (CRS is a Caritas member) The early days of last August seemed fairly unremarkable for the small Pakistani village of Rajo Bhayo, until the Indus River – swollen from days of unending monsoon rains in the north – breached a protective embankment nearby and came swirling towards the village. Villagers had about an hour to prepare before the flood hit them. “We did not understand what was happening to us when the waters came,” says Soomri, a 75-year old mother of five and grandmother of 23. Panic ensued, with people fleeing to higher ground as quickly as they could, watching their entire village disappear under rapidly-rising water.
By Jessica Howell, Programme and Advocacy Officer, Catholic Relief Services A wizened man whose mirthful eyes suggest more mischief than age, Ariz smirks when asked how old he is. “More than 50,” he said, to the chuckles of his friends and family standing nearby. There hasn’t been a lot to smile about lately though. The floods that tore through his village in southern Pakistan last summer stole much from Ariz – his land, his livestock, and most painfully, his son, Nazeef, who was to be married in one month. “I miss him very much.”
By Jessica Howell, Programme and Advocacy Officer, Catholic Relief Services “Ours was a love marriage,” said Soomri, a frail woman with almond-shaped eyes that seem to dance when thinks about her youth. “He was the only literate man in town,” she said of her husband, “And we were both favored by our parents.” The 75-year-old mother of five and grandmother of 23 lives in a small village in the northeast corner of Pakistan’s Sindh province. Described by her extended family as easily distracted, Soomri seems like she’d just rather tell stories than worry about anything else. With whoever will listen to her, she talks … about her village and the weather and her children. But mostly she talks about her husband.
By Jessica Howell, Programme and Advocacy Officer, Catholic Relief Services Dulshan Bajkani looks to be about 23 years old, but she says she doesn’t know for sure. Regardless of her age, she’s endured more in the last six months than any woman in her twenties should have to bear. Her nightmare began in early August, when record rainfalls throughout Pakistan caused the nearby Indus River to overflow its banks. She remembers hearing about the floods on the news; some people the village left right away but many others thought the warnings were exaggerated and stayed. But the water did come – in the middle of the night – and Dulshan, her husband, and her three daughters fled quickly. Most people left everything behind in the panic that ensued, running away without shoes or scarves and having time only to grab frightened children.
By Kathy Brown, Regional Coordinator, Caritas North America In December, the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change trained their first “Catholic Climate Ambassadors”. They are leaders from around the country who will reach out, educate and empower people in their local dioceses, parishes, schools, and religious communities to be engaged in this critical issue. They will provide a uniquely Catholic perspective and pay particular attention to the impacts of climate change on people in poverty in the U.S. and around the world. The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change was launched in 2006 to help the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic community address issues related to climate change. The Coalition is comprised of over ten national Catholic organisations in the United States, including the bishops’ conference, Caritas members Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA, and men and women religious leadership conferences. In order to expand the reach of the [...]
by Renee Lambert, Emergency Coordinator Young Sudanese polling officials sat inside a small two room school, silently unfolding ballots while national and international observers looked on. It was just after 7 pm, the polls had closed 2 hours earlier. Outside the school the sun was setting, so the polling officials were counting by the light of small lanterns. Shadows of the young officials unfolding ballots bounced off the walls of the small room and goose bumps covered my arms as I realized the significance of what I was witnessing. My eyes had already welled with tears more times in the past week than could be counted on both hands, but this did not stop them from tearing up again. And I knew that what I was feeling wasn’t even a fraction of what the Sudanese polling officials and observers must be feeling.
By Sara A. Fajardo Click here to view more pictures. Watching the southern Sudanese line up to cast their ballots has been a lesson in civic-duty. Eric Keri, a tall lanky 50 year-old father of 10, refused to leave Sudan until the last day of the vote. Despite having family in neighbouring Uganda he chose to spend the holiday season alone. He feared some mishap would not get him back to Juba in time to mark with a thumbprint, his choice for Sudan’s future: for either the south to remain united with northern Sudan, or to secede and form the world’s newest nation. It was a resolve shared with members of his entire family– each of them voted, some in such far-flung countries as Australia, the U.S. and Uganda.
Read in French or Spanish Homily of Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of Pontifical Council Cor Unum Port-au-Prince, Haiti (Hebrews 2:14-18; Psalms 105:1-2, 3-4, 8-9; Mark 1:29-39) Cher tout people Haïtien: Moin poté la pé ak Ké Kontan Gran Mèt la pou nou. Dear Haitian people, I bring you the peace and joy of the Lord. Exactly one year after the devastating earthquake that struck this dear country of Haiti, I come to you on behalf of the Holy Father. Through my presence, Pope Benedict XVI wishes to demonstrate his nearness to you. We are still in mourning for thousands of people who were dear to us: children, parents, brothers and sisters, as well as priests, religious and seminarians, including our Father and Brother, Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot, Archbishop of Port-au-Prince. All of these victims loved life just as much as we do. They lost it full of fear and in great […]
By Sara Fajardo in Juba for Catholic Relief Services (CRS is a member of Caritas from the USA)
by Karina O’Meara as told to Sara A. Fajardo It was mid-morning when we arrived to the Juba River Port last week and it was jostling with the sounds of people unloading bedding, horses, cars, and cooking supplies, from the four open-air containers that flanked a large passenger boat. An estimated 700 people had made the up to 15-day journey from Khartoum and Kosti to reach southern Sudan’s largest city. Each day thousands of people have been flooding into Juba and other main cities throughout southern Sudan, in the lead up to the referendum vote. People arrive on boats, planes, and buses daily.
[slideshow]By Sara A. Fajardo, CRS Communications Officer in Juba People began arriving long before dawn. Some were rumored to have spent the night. By the time we arrived several hundred men and women snaked the grounds of St. Kizito parish in Juba, Sudan. The men stood in one line. The women stood in another. Many carried radios and listened for news of the turnout to Sudan’s historic vote in their home counties. Women whispered, radios hummed, and a few tired children whimpered as they nestled into their mother’s welcoming backs. All waited patiently. Their time had come. It was time for them to cast their ballot. This was there once-in-a-lifetime chance to vote to decide whether or not southern Sudan will secede from the north or remain united with northern Sudan. “I thought I’d be the first,” the men chimed happily, “I was here at 5 this [...]
By Kathy Brown, Catholic Charities USA The news from the United States on passing legislation on climate change that would protect the poor throughout the world is not good. Throughout the past year, key Senators have been asked to include and strengthen provisions in climate legislation that would protect poor and vulnerable people, in our country and around the world, from the impacts of climate change and the effects of policies needed to address it. Unfortunately, the Senate will not consider climate legislation this year. Last year, the House of Representatives passed a bill that respected the concerns of the Catholic Church and other faith-based groups. It included moderate funding for domestic and international programs for adaption and mitigation. The Senate came up with their own bill which did not meet the approval of the bishops’ conference. Given that this is an election year, the chances of their being any more work on even [...]
Representatives from Catholic Charities (CCUSA - a Caritas member in the US) from across the US will visit Washington today to call on Congress to address the urgent needs of over 43 million people struggling with poverty in America. Rev. Larry Snyder, CCUSA President, will make an address from the Capitol and call for politicians to tackle poverty. CCUSA representatives will then have a chance to speak one on one with politicians about the reality of poverty across America. Fr Snyder said, “The national poverty numbers we see in are staggering, but unfortunately come as little surprise to those who have been working closely with the growing population for whom poverty has become a daily reality.” The visit to the Capitol is part of CCUSA’s centenary celebrations this week. The festivities kicked off with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Francis George, President of the US Bishops’ Conference, on Saturday. “Catholic Charities is an [...]
The Foundation for Senior Living (FSL) has served the needs of vulnerable seniors and adults with disabilities in Phoenix, Arizona for over 30 years. A member of Catholic Charities USA (part of Caritas Internationalis), FSL builds homes that prioritise safety, comfort, low cost maintainability and gentle impact on the environment. It aims to reduce landfill waste by 60 percent through the use of clean building materials. It uses local materials and achieves high energy ratings. Conservation savings help FSL pay for energy and water for their tenants. Income from the housing projects helps subsidise other social programmes that are under-supported by traditional funding sources. “Not only is building green good environmental policy, but it tangibly improves the quality of life for our low-income residents,” said Steve Hastings, FSL’s Director of Real Estate.
By guest writer Walter E. Grazer, Special Adviser for National Religious Partnership for the Environment US politics surrounding climate change remains contentious and uncertain. While the US House of Representatives passed climate legislation in the summer of 2009, all eyes are now on the US Senate that is in a state of virtual political paralysis. Democrats and Republicans are unable to find common ground thus far on any major issue, whether it is health care overhaul, finance reform, immigration or climate change. Impending fall elections for Congress only adds to the pressure to act on climate change within the next few weeks or months. While the politics of climate change is complicated, 2010 is the best time for action rather than handing this off to a new Congress in 2011. Action is less likely in 2011 given the potential new make-up of a Congress that many fear is likely to be [...]