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|

Available in French and Spanish By Ryan Worms “Just a little while ago, it was very hard for me to find something to eat. I didn’t feel strong, I didn’t know what to do and had no one to help me. Now I’ve got my energy back,” said sixty-year-old Olivia Jean Louis. She is part of the Caritas Les Cayes Elders Assistance and Supervision Programme set up by Caritas Haiti in partnership with Caritas Spain. We’re in the diocese of Les Cayes in Laborde in the parish of St Vincent de Paul. Fr Aldagène Louisnel, head of the local Caritas, shows us round the house that has recently welcomed eight elderly women in dire circumstances. “We’ve settled the poorest of the community’s elderly in this house,” he said. “The new programme has been in place for two months. We can feed another 25 elderly people every day as a result. […]

International concern for humanitarian crisis in Colombia

By |11 November 2011|

The Caritas Working Group for Colombia says the human rights situation in Córdoba continues to be critical.

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.

Haiti: Nous chantons la vie

By |3 November 2011|

Écoutez Jour férié à Port au Prince. Aujourd’hui, la ville commémore ses morts, nous sommes le 2 novembre. La première visite que le chauffeur de Caritas Haïti me propose est à la cathédrale de la ville. Ce bâtiment imposant a été détruit lors du séisme du 12 janvier 2010. Il ne reste que certaines parties de la structure qui laisse imaginer la splendeur passée de la bâtisse. La façade est magnifique, quelques vitraux sont toujours perchés tout comme une des cloches que l’on aperçoit en haut d’une tour encore debout. Lorsque vous pénétrez à l’intérieur, vous ne pouvez pas échapper à une étrange émotion. Le recueillement est de mise, la prière aussi. Ici, plus d’une centaine de personnes ont trouvé la mort. Lorsque la terre s’est mise à trembler, elles chantaient des louanges, faisaient monter leurs voix vers le ciel, la chorale majeure de Port au Prince était en pleine répétition. De l’autre [...]

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.

One in ten Colombians forced from their homes by conflict

By |15 October 2011|

By Adriana Arrieta Peace remains elusive in Colombia. Over 45 years of civil war has forced one in ten people from their homes today. Every day a Colombian is stripped of his belongings, his home or his life. His dreams, desires, and hopes are stolen. Many are forced to migrate to another city in which they can live in peace. Others have no choice but to abandon the country, in hope of fleeing from all the problems that afflict them and with which the government has been unable to help with. Figures from the NGO Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES) show 280,000 people were forced from their homes in Colombia in 2010 alone. They say Colombia has the highest combined internally displaced and refugee population in the world ( 5.28 million). It is a huge humanitarian crisis that most of the world has forgotten, and “international public awareness about the gravity of our [...]

August 30, 2011

Archbishop Óscar Romero lives on

By |30 August 2011|

It is thirty years since Óscar Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass. As Archbishop of San Salvador he spoke out against the brutal regime that oppressed the people of his country.

July 11, 2011

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    American dream ends in mass graves for migrants heading north

American dream ends in mass graves for migrants heading north

By |11 July 2011|

By Fr. Francisco Gallardo, director of the Caritas migrant house at Matamoros, near Mexico’s border with the USA.  People leave their homes in search of the “American dream” but they end up coming to us looking for lodging, clothes and help. Many of them arrive completely exhausted. There are people who’ve been kidnapped and who come to us full of fear. They’ve been tortured and abused and are in a pitiful state. Most of those who come to us are men. There are very few women and children. Sometimes people come with children but they can’t prove they are their parents. We think that they’re taking the children to their real parents in the US. We’ve been working with migrants in this diocese for the past 24 years. Originally, we opened our doors to migrants who came from the centre and the south of Mexico. But then the situation became more dramatic and [...]

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 [...]

Chile overcomes massive quake and tsunami

By |7 July 2011|

It was the worst disaster Chile had suffered in half a century, not only a strong earthquake but a tsunami too. Two million people were affected. Caritas’s emergency response began immediately: its strong local networks helping it reach the most vulnerable people in the most remote areas, often more rapidly than the government could.

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