Haiti: A voice in the rubble

By |21 December 2010|

Ruth Schoeffel was working for Caritas Austria in Haiti immediately after the earthquake and got involved in a rescue mission 

I went with the Caritas rescuers from Mexico and some rescuers from South Africa to the Cuban hospital one day as I wanted to write about what the hospital was doing. While we were there a dog from a German rescue team found signs of life in the rubble of the nearby cathedral. The rescue teams split up and started looking in different places.

It was the most surreal situation I had ever experienced. There was shooting nearby and there were people rooting through the rubble looking for valuable things. Then the rescuers said a woman was alive under the bricks.

I climbed up on top of the rubble to talk to her as the rescuers didn’t understand French. I also tried to help her keep calm.

When I first talked to her […]

Haiti: Putting the “care” in healthcare

By |21 December 2010|

Caritas Germany, Dr Joost Butenop – health advisor 

Following the Haiti earthquake, Caritas was with the most-affected people from very early on and we managed to save lives and alleviate suffering within our capacity. Our health centres always did more than handing out drugs. People came for comfort and support. Holding a hand or hugging a patient was as important and life-saving as giving antibiotics to children with pneumonia. Most of our consultations in the first months were “psychosocial” in nature rather than medical in that we helped people deal with the emotional impact of the earthquake.

Even before the earthquake struck, the state of the healthcare system in the areas affected by the earthquake was worse than those in most countries I had ever worked in. Haiti’s health system was already a shambles before the earthquake with less than 30 percent of the population having access to health care services […]

Shelter in Haiti– Brick by brick

By |21 December 2010|

Caritas Austria 

Nelson Elissier and Michelle Azor built their house brick by brick. They didn’t have much money, but every time they got a little, they bought building materials for their house. It took four years to complete their home, but just six months after they had finished, the earthquake destroyed what they had worked for.

Their story is similar to that of many others in Haiti, where poverty means that people have to work very hard to build a house for their families.

Many people slept outside their houses when the earthquake hit. They wanted to protect their possessions and stay in a place they knew when all around them was uncertain.

“We never considered leaving our house to go and live in a camp,” said Mr Elissier. “We stayed here because it’s our home. Leaving would have meant losing everything.

Caritas Austria’s reconstruction project in Fort Hugo in the district of Morne […]

Action against Cholera in Haiti

By |8 November 2010|

Preventing the spread of cholera in earthquake-wracked Haiti remains a chief concern for Caritas.

New cases of the waterborne disease continue to be reported in much of the country, including the centre, north and northwest, and west. Cholera prevention and hygiene promotion are ongoing throughout the capital Port-au-Prince and in all the affected communities.

Haiti is struggling to rebuild after an earthquake 12 January destroyed much of its health and water infrastructure, as well as leaving over a million people homeless and in tents.

Over 500 people have died of cholera as of 8 November and several thousand have been hospitalized.

Hurricane Tomas clipped Haiti 5 November, bringing torrential rain and flooding in western Haiti, adding to the humanitarian challenge. Caritas assessment teams in  Gonaives have reported damage to buildings, including the Caritas office and a health centre and other Church buildings. Caritas has evacuated some 100 children and distributed tarpaulins.

Seven dead bodies […]

Prevention essential in stopping cholera in Haiti

By |25 October 2010|

Caritas is focusing on prevention, providing access to clean water and hygiene awareness in response to the cholera epidemic hitting Haiti.

Over 3000 people have been infected and over 250 have died after cholera contaminated the water supply in north and central Haiti.

An earthquake 12 January caused massive damage in Haiti, including to the health, water and sanitation infrastructure. Many people are still living in cramped conditions in camps. Caritas was already involved in health and providing clean water as part of its reconstruction programme.

Caritas has given out 176,000 water purification tablets in and around Gonaïves where some cases are suspected. It is also providing rehydration kits and hand sanitisers.

“It is important to interrupt the infection chain. Cholera needs to be detected, affected people need to receive treatment and awareness has to be raised among the population. Clean drinking water and washing hands regularly are absolutely essential where cholera is […]

Caritas looking to long-term recovery in Haiti

By |22 October 2010|

Caritas is focusing on rebuilding homes, providing education and training to help Haitians get back on their feet following the 12 January earthquake.

Caritas members working in Haiti will spend US$176 million over a twelve month period that began in May 2010. Over 1.5 million people will benefit from the programme.

The work includes supporting education for 50,000 students and homes for approximately 100,000 people. Caritas works throughout the country.

The action plan also covers providing clean water and health care, food and putting people back in work.

“It is essential that Haitians have homes, schools and training so they can have a future,” said Lesley-Anne Knight, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis.

“Responding to immediate needs along with longer-term issues such as housing and jobs is a complex challenge, but Caritas is committed to helping Haitians rebuild their homes and lives today, tomorrow and for a long time to come,” she said.

Over 230,000 people […]

Caritas aid worker killed in robbery in Haiti

By |12 October 2010|

Caritas is deeply saddened to announce that one of its local staff in Port-au-Prince has been killed.

27-year-old Julien Kénord had just cashed a $2000 check at a local bank when he was shot by unknown assailants in his car. Mr. Kénord died from his injuries in hospital shortly after. Mr. Kénord was an employee of Caritas Switzerland.

“This is a terrible loss for Julien’s family and friends. With dedication and loyalty, Julien helped earthquake victims in Haiti rebuild their lives. His colleagues at Caritas will miss him very much,” said Lesley-Anne Knight, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis.

The tragic event took place on 8 October. A police investigation has been launched, but no further details are known at the moment.

Caritas has worked in Haiti for many years and was present to assist earthquake victims immediately after the disaster struck.

In the first six months after the earthquake, Caritas has provided food, water, […]

The response of Caritas in Haiti

By |9 July 2010|

Caritas was in a good position to provide aid to survivors after the earthquake. Caritas Haiti has been working on emergencies, development and social justice for 35 years. It works through 10 diocesan offices, through staff, parish priests and community volunteers.

In addition to that, Caritas Haiti was well supported on the ground by other Caritas members, with Catholic Relief Services (CRS is a Caritas member in the USA), Secours Catholique (Caritas France), Caritas Switzerland, Cordaid (Caritas Netherlands), and Caritas Spain having had programmes there before the earthquake, and Caritas Dominican Republic being close by to offer assistance.

So far, Caritas has spent close to $46.8 million (€37.4 million) on relief efforts, providing emergency shelter, medical treatment, sanitation and food, but also counselling and protection. Altogether, Caritas aid reached more than 2.3 million people. Among them 1.5 million received food aid and close to 400,000 people benefitted from Caritas healthcare programmes.

In […]

Shelter still a major challenge in Haiti

By |9 July 2010|

Providing shelter to the many people who lost their homes in the earthquake remains a major challenge. Over a million people still live in makeshift settlements and camps around the capital Port-au-Prince. More than 250,000 houses were destroyed.

Over the last six months, Caritas provided emergency shelter or temporary homes to almost 160,000 people in Port-au-Prince and in rural areas. While things are starting to improve in the Léogâne area, the situation remains highly complex around Port-au-Prince.

Despite continuous clearing work, the rubble remaining in the streets considerably slows down reconstruction. The camps are so densely populated that no temporary houses can be built there. The problems are often worsened by unclear land ownership.

Only a few hundred semi-temporary shelters have been built in the capital so far. Ahead of the rainy season starting in June, inhabitants from unsafe camps had to be relocated.

While people in camps needed to be taken care […]

Food distributions continuing in Haiti

By |9 July 2010|

Until today, Caritas has helped more than 1.5 million people with food in Port-au-Prince, Léogâne and its surroundings as well as 9 other dioceses. During the month of June, the distributions have benefitted more than 75,000 displaced people in Port-au-Prince and more than 100,000 people in the Nippes, Grandes Anse and the Southern provinces.

Food distribution continues as many people have not only lost their home, but also their source of income. Without a job, they and their families remain dependent on food aid. While Caritas still provides food for thousands of people every day, it is also trying to recreate incomes by employing people in Cash-for-Work programmes.

More than 40,000 people benefitted from Cash-for-Work incomes so far. Promoting agriculture will also be part of the Caritas five year rehabilitation programme currently designed.

At distributions like the one carried out at Pétionville Club camp in Port-au-Prince in April, there can be al […]

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    Prevent diseases through clean water, hygiene and sanitation in Haiti

Prevent diseases through clean water, hygiene and sanitation in Haiti

By |9 July 2010|

As many people are still living in overcrowded camps in and around the capital or in highly precarious conditions elsewhere, access to water and the spread of diseases remain an important concern for Caritas. Together with food aid, this sector has been a priority intervention field.

Until the end of May, Caritas provided access to water, hygiene kits or sanitation structures to roughly 280,000 people. It distributed clean water, water purification tablets and hygiene kits and provided emergency sanitary structures.

In the first three months only, Caritas Haiti and CRS provided 726 WASH stations with latrines, hand washing stations, baths and access to clean drinking water, benefitting almost 170,000 people living in camps.

Around 27,000 hygiene kits containing basic items such as soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes for a family of five were provided by different Caritas member organisations.

In order to encourage people to apply basic hygiene principles and make proper use of […]

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    Helping Haitians to get over traumatising earthquake memories

Helping Haitians to get over traumatising earthquake memories

By |9 July 2010|

The shock of the earthquake is over but many people are constantly going through the events in their memory all over again. Precarious living conditions in overcrowded camps or makeshift homes out of rubble, violence and insecurity in the camps, the loss of family and friends, home or work, are putting enormous stress on people.

A psychological test carried out recently by Cordaid (Caritas Netherland) on earthquake survivors, revealed very high stress levels among the population.

Caritas is stepping in through protection and counselling measures. Several thousand people, especially children, already benefitted directly from this aid.

Caritas child protection staff reach more than 2,000 children with counselling in five locations in Bureau des Mines, Solino and Pétionville Club camps. Counselling has been set up to help children and give them back some normality in their lives.

“After an incident as traumatising as this earthquake, it is essential to offer counselling to the children,” […]

Health care structures needed more than ever in Haiti

By |9 July 2010|

The health care needs caused by the earthquake were immense. The Haitian health care system was weak even before the earthquake and people too poor to pay for treatment. During the earthquake, many hospitals and clinics were destroyed.

Close to 400,000 people have benefitted from Caritas health care programmes so far. These include trauma care, 480 surgeries, and primary care in 21 hospitals and health posts, distribution of health kits and medicine, and supporting a public health campaign.

In March and April, Caritas also supported vaccination campaigns against diphtheria, tetanus, measles and rubella. Within two months, roughly 4,000 people could get vaccinated for the first time against these frequent diseases in Haiti.

Now, the most urgent needs caused by the earthquake have been taken care of. But Haiti needs help to rebuild its hospitals and to ensure wider access to health care for the whole population, without regards to their income.

As many […]

New hope for Haiti six months after the earthquake

By |9 July 2010|


Available in pdf 

Introduction By His Eminence Óscar Andrés Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., Caritas Internationalis President

Half a year after the earthquake in Haiti, the most pressing emergency is over. Our priority in the first months was to get food, sanitation and shelter to hundreds of thousands of people in need. Now, we also need to focus on reconstruction.

Millions have been affected, many have lost family members. Schools, homes and lives need to be rebuilt. It is important not to forget about Haiti now.

Haiti caught the world’s attention after what the UN called the worst disaster it ever confronted in its 65-year-old history. Before, the country and its extreme poverty had been largely forgotten. It is deplorable that it took an earthquake of this scale to make the world see the scandal that was Haiti.

So far, Caritas has helped more than 2.3 million people with shelter, food, healthcare and other emergency […]

From Haiti with love

By |9 July 2010|

Thank you letter by Bishop Pierre Dumas, President of Caritas Haiti 

Today, Caritas Haiti continues to share the joys and miseries, the sorrows and hopes of this nation and its crucified history. Caritas manifests the Church’s active compassion and concern for this courageous people.

Six months ago the devastating earthquake destroyed the foundations of social life in Haiti and plunged many families into grief and distress. Caritas Haiti has been very active since the first moments of the natural disaster and is still amidst the sufferings of the moment and the consolations of God.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Caritas Haiti is grateful to the various members of […]

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