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 […]

Haiti mourns its loss one year after quake

By |12 January 2011|

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 […]

Message from the Caritas family in Haiti

By |11 January 2011|

French | Spanish | Creole Message from the Caritas family in Haiti On the occasion of the first anniversary of the 12th January earthquake, the members of the Caritas Internationalis Confederation, in communion with Caritas Haiti, feel the need to express once more their proximity to all the victims of this tragedy. They reaffirm their faith in a better future for the Haitian people whom they want to continue to help, and they want to offer an inventive charity contributing to building a new society.

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 […]

Education in Haiti – Something solid in the uncertainty

By |21 December 2010|

Caritas Czech 

Saint Louis Wilner is counting his blessings that his wife and children are alive. He lost family members in the earthquake and also his house and possessions. His wife lost her business and he lost his job as a result of the disaster. It’s been a tough year.

He’s taking his three-year-old daughter, Julie, to school. This is one reassuring glimpse of normality in a time of uncertainty and difficulties.

Dominic Savio nursery in Sibert, Port-au-Prince, collapsed in the earthquake. Caritas Czech Republic along with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate helped rebuild it.

They also provided the children with school uniforms and basic supplies and learning activities.

Mr Wilner has managed to survive on casual work since he lost his job. Caritas Czech helped him with cash-for-work projects and by providing the family with food and essential items as well as a tent to live in.

“It’s difficult living in a tent […]

Livelihoods – Helping farmers in Haiti

By |21 December 2010|

With Port-au-Prince in ruins following the earthquake, hundreds of thousands of people fled to the countryside.

Les Cayes, in the south or Haiti, is a rural zone. It is very vulnerable to heavy rains, floods and soil erosion due to deforestation.

Enelio Teme is trying to help his relatives who arrived from Port-au-Prince following the earthquake but floods following the earthquake have made his life much more difficult.

“My crops, my seeds, my cattle…everything has disappeared,” he says. “People don’t usually die from hunger here, but this year, who knows? What with my family arriving on top of the floods, life is very difficult.”

Mr Enelio’s story isn’t unusual in Les Cayes. Mass deforestation around Les Cayes has led to soil erosion which leads to floods when torrential rains arrive. The floods in February 2010 destroyed most of the crops and led to the loss of many heads of cattle.

Secours Catholique works with […]

A year in Haiti for one Caritas member organisation

By |21 December 2010|

Catholic Relief Services (CRS – an American member of Caritas) had been working Haiti 55 years before the earthquake struck. On 12 January, CRS had a staff of around 300 on the ground who had been working on existing programmes. Here’s how the year panned out:

12 January: When the earthquake hits in the afternoon, many people are at work and children are at school. Mary Lineberger, who was in Haiti for CRS, said: “All around us we heard screaming and the crashing down of buildings. The falling of buildings continued for hours. We stayed there at the apartment complex and immediately pulled the mattresses out knowing that we would be sleeping outdoors for several nights.”

14 January: Staff in neighbouring Dominican Republic prepare 10,000 packages of food and water with each package containing enough to sustain a family of five for two weeks.

18 January: Doctors at St. Francois de Sales hospital in Port-au-Prince […]

Challenges in Haiti: Poor sanitation, fragile health

By |21 December 2010|

Caritas Haiti 

Crowded conditions in camps, limited access to water and heat poor sanitation combined to create a cholera time bomb for Haiti’s earthquake victims.

The first cases emerged in the Artibonite region in mid-October. Two months later, over 2,300 people had died from the disease and over 100,000 had been ill.

Cholera is spread through infected water. People who catch it can get severe vomiting and diarrhoea which lead to dehydration. If a case isn’t treated in time the person can die.

In the first 48 hours of the epidemic, Caritas Haiti in Gonaïves started to give out over 170,000 water purification tablets, hand disinfectant, rehydration salts and antibiotics.

Caritas Haiti and other Caritas member organisation embarked on awareness campaigns to tell the public about how necessary good hygiene was.

Caritas in Jacmel focused their awareness raising in schools. Staff trained teachers in hygiene promotion and cholera prevention. They also distributed water purification tablets […]

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    Haiti: Providing children in camps with a safe place to play and grow

Haiti: Providing children in camps with a safe place to play and grow

By |21 December 2010|

Trócaire 

More than a million earthquake victims in Haiti are still living in camps. Many of them are children as four out of ten people in Haiti are under 14 years old. Difficult living conditions in the camps and uncertainty about the future mark their daily lives. Irish Caritas member Trócaire provides children in camps with a safe place to play, learn and overcome the traumatizing memories of the disaster.

Six-year old Christine knows the centre in the Pétionville Club camp in Port-au-Prince inside out. She and her younger sister were among the first children to join the centre when it opened shortly after the earthquake.

“When she arrived, Christine was very stressed,” says Armelle Joseph, a local counsellor in the center. “She cried all the time and would refuse to participate and mingle with other kids. She was convinced another quake would happen. But she is doing a lot better now. […]

Caritas providing long term help to rebuild Haiti

By |21 December 2010|

Close to a year after the earthquake, Caritas relief and reconstruction programmes in Haiti are well-established throughout the country.

Caritas will invest more than $217 million in Haiti over a one year period that started in May 2010.

This aid will cover further emergency needs caused for example by hurricanes, floods or the cholera epidemic, such as the distribution of hygiene kits and food aid, but also infrastructure and housing projects, education, livelihoods, water, sanitation, capacity building and health programmes.

The funds are additional to the roughly $14 million that were spent in the first three months after the disaster for emergency relief efforts and first rehabilitation programmes.

As over a million people are still living in camps, shelter remains a major focus of Caritas’ work in Haiti.

Activities such as building and repairing houses, ensuring earthquake-resistant construction norms, training work force in the construction sector and providing building materials to earthquake victims make […]

The first three months – emergency response

By |21 December 2010|

Caritas started to send staff, aid and to donate money within hours of the earthquake. Caritas Haiti, Catholic Relief Services (a US member of Caritas) and Caritas Switzerland already had programmes in Haiti. They were on the ground assessing the situation and establishing what immediate needs were from the beginning

In the first few months, Caritas’ efforts were focused on providing food, water, sanitation, medical support and shelter to hundreds of thousands of people in need.

Three months after the earthquake, Caritas relief efforts had reached more than 1.5 million survivors. Caritas members from over 60 countries took action from the first day of the disaster to provide food, shelter, livelihoods, clean water, a safe place for children, healthcare, and trauma counselling. Over US $14 million (Euro 10 million) was spent by Caritas in the first three months to respond to the first emergency and start setting up rehabilitation programs.

Until April, […]

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