December 23, 2011

Schools reopen in Haiti after 2010 Earthquake

By |23 December 2011|

"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. The [...]

Keeping cholera in check in Haiti

By |23 December 2011|

"When the cholera epidemic broke out in October 2010, we weren't prepared for it. We were unfamiliar with this disease, and during the first few weeks a large number of sick people came in to see us. Things weren't easy." Josèphe Gerda is the head of a small healthcare centre in the remote village of Brunette, in the province of Artibonite, in the diocese of Gonaïves in Haiti. Caritas Gonaïves runs nine clinics like this one and one hospital. The clinics are the only points of access to healthcare for people in the area. "At the height of the epidemic in November 2010, more than 20 sick people might show up on any one day," said Dr Renald Gédéon, head of the healthcare department at Caritas Gonaïves. Piard Jean Rico, project coordinator at Caritas Gonaïves, said, "At the outset, we weren’t aware it was cholera. We only knew it was a [...]
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    In southern Haiti mothers are at the heart of development strategy

In southern Haiti mothers are at the heart of development strategy

By |23 December 2011|

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 [...]

Healing trauma after Haiti’s earthquake

By |23 December 2011|

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 [...]

November 15, 2011

Haiti’s elderly get their zest back

By |15 November 2011|

New homes for Haitians

By |11 November 2011|

Almost two years on from the earthquake of 12 January 2010, more than 600,000 people are still displaced in camps. They live in extremely precarious conditions and their health security is at risk.

October 30, 2011

Healthcare becomes accessible in Trianon, Haiti

By |30 October 2011|

On this Saturday 5 November the people of Trianon are celebrating. Today the Caritas Hinche – Trianon health centre is being inaugurated, a major event for this small community from the Central Plateau region in Haiti.

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 [...]

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 [...]

Cholera in Haiti’s camps

By |7 July 2011|

Caritas’s humanitarian experience had helped it recognise that crowded camps, with limited clean water and poor sanitation, were the perfect combination for another brewing disaster: a cholera outbreak. Caritas had begun distributing soap and building stand pipes and latrines as soon as possible after the earthquake. “For some people, it is the first time they have proper access to water,” said Yves-Marie Almazor of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). But it wasn’t enough to stop the cholera time bomb going off in October; by the time it was brought under control, 100,000 Haitians had fallen ill and 2,300 had died. Again, Caritas’s seasoned presence on the ground enabled it to act fast. In the first 48 hours of the outbreak, Caritas Haiti in Gonaïves gave out over 170,000 water purification tablets, hand disinfectants, rehydration salts and antibiotics. In hard-hit Artibonite, CRS delivered hospital beds for patients who otherwise lay on the ground. Staff [...]

January 12, 2011

Haiti mourns its loss one year after quake

By |12 January 2011|

Message from the Caritas family in Haiti

By |11 January 2011|

December 21, 2010

Haiti: Safe from the snakes

By |21 December 2010|

Cordaid – Caritas Netherlands  Francois Tifabe was walking through an alley near his home on 12 January 2010 when the ground started to shake. Before he understood what was happening a nearby wall collapsed and the debris fell on his leg. “I still feel the pain and need a stick to walk,” said Mr Tifabe, pointing to his injured leg. On returning home, his worst fears were confirmed. His house had totally collapsed in the earthquake. However, he was relieved to find that his wife and five children had survived. Bad times followed in the months after the earthquake. The family went to live in a camp. Following the earthquake, over one million people were without a home. They slept anywhere: in camps, in the street, in improvised shelters made from anything they could find. “There were snakes crawling in the camp and the ground was wet all the time. Our tent wasn’t such [...]

Education in Haiti – Food for thought

By |21 December 2010|

The afternoon of the Haiti earthquake many children died or were left trapped in collapsed schools. An estimated 90 per cent of schools in Port-au-Prince were damaged or destroyed, leaving around two million children without access to education. Literacy rates in Haiti were already low compared to global standards before the earthquake. The Haitian authorities emphasised that helping children return to school as quickly as possible was a priority. Development and Peace (the Canadian member of the Caritas network) responded quickly to this appeal by supporting several religious communities that run schools and by investing in the rebuilding of schools and in training. “After such a traumatic event, school can be very stabilising for children as it gives them back some sense of normalcy to their lives,” said Danielle Leblanc, Emergency Programs Officer for Development and Peace. “The desire to greet the children back was there, but the walls weren’t and many [...]

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