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 […]
Catholic Relief Services is the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States and is a member of Caritas Internationalis.
CRS and Caritas are helping the poorest and most vulnerable families address some of the many challenges related to climate change and environmental degradation through a variety of programmes:
Emergency programs provide food when people’s normal ability to access food is disrupted by disaster.
Longer term food security programs are helping farmers increase their production, reduce post-harvest losses and improve access to credit and local markets.
Integrated watershed management programs are protecting natural resources and improving the availability of safe drinking water.
Reforestation and training in soil management practices are helping to counteract erosion and maintain soil fertility.
Introduction of drip irrigation and alternative, drought tolerant crops such as sweet potato, yucca, cashew, tamarind and aloe vera are reducing farmers’ vulnerability to droughts.
Across the region, sustainable and conservation agriculture practices combine new […]
By Kathy Brown, Regional Coordinator for Caritas North America
The average person in the United States produces 20 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide annually. The average person in Tanzania in East Africa produces 0.1 tonne (according to the United Nations Development Programme). Tanzanians may contribute least to climate change, but are likely to suffer many of its worst consequences such as floods, droughts and other natural disasters.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services (a Caritas member in the US) say any climate change bill considered by the Congress should lower greenhouse gases and protect the poor and vulnerable – both at home and abroad.
Through the Catholic Confront Global Poverty initiative, CRS and the bishops’ conference are mobilizing one million Catholics to learn, pray and act in support of policies that will help address the effects of climate change on poor people worldwide.
Congress is in the process of negotiating a […]
It’s market day in Sibinal, a town in Guatemala’s southwestern department of San Marcos, and farmers gather from neighboring villages to buy everything from beans to toothpaste. It doesn’t take long for the conversations to turn to “El Stan.”
The hurricane tore through Central America in 2005, killing more than1500 people, most of them in Guatemala. Stan hit in October, at the tail end of what farmers call “the hungry season,” as families eagerly anticipated the harvest. But the days-long rain wiped away crops, drowned livestock and washed away roads. A food crisis followed. Four years later, the experience is still fresh on the minds of people in San Marcos.
“It rained for eight days, 24 hours per day. The rivers rose. In my village, we lost 27 houses. Eight people died in one house. We lost our entire crop—maize, beans, wheat—then we lost the potatoes to rot because of the […]
Erica Dahl-Bredine, Mexico Country Representative for Catholic Relief Services during the Tabasco Flood
The only way Erica Dahl-Bredine could reach the trouble spots of flooded Tabasco last November was by army helicopter.
“As we flew into Villahermosa, the capital city of Tabasco, everything as far as the eye could see was under water. Whole villages, farmland, almost everything,” says Ms. Dahl-Bredine, Mexico country representative for Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
Apart from financial help, CRS sent experts to the disaster zone to assess needs and help coordinate relief efforts.
Once the floods abated, CRS’s efforts moved on to helping reactivate the rural community by organising an intensive training and leadership programme for representatives from 55 parishes in Tabasco.
“They spent two months in intensive training to assess needs in terms of vulnerability to disaster,” says Dahl-Bredine.
Course attendees were also taught methods to improve economic development either in terms of better farming techniques , finding employment or generating income.
Once the course had finished, people returned to their communities […]
Extract from Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez’s speech at the High-level Event on the Millennium Development Goals at the UN in New York, 25 September 2008
“Of course, for the majority of us, we don’t need the Millennium Development Goals to know what poverty is. In Honduras, where I come from, we experience its limitations daily.
“We do need the MDGs though to galvanise governments into urgent action by living up to past promises on development. For many of us, the M in MDGs should stand for minimum. We want to see our governments go further, especially on environmental sustainability.
“Ten years ago this October, Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America destroying 50 years of progress in Honduras alone. Mitch was then the fourth most intense storm in the Atlantic in recorded history. But the storm to end all storms was more like a beginning. Mitch has already dropped to seventh place in a few […]