March 26, 2010

First torrential rains blocking emergency aid in Haiti

By |26 March 2010|

By Mathilde Magnier “Mud, mud, mud! There is mud everywhere! This place is a big mess,“ says Guylaine. Her feet are covered with mud. The rain has softened up the earth. With a dazed look, the old woman stares at what is left of her shelter, that was made of a pile of old clothes and sheets. Now, they are on the ground, in dirty water puddles that have formed all over the Pétionville Club Camp. First torrential rains have struck Port-au-Prince in the night of March 18, flooding roads, dwellings, buildings and most of all, the many makeshift camps around the city. Since the earthquake, the capital has not seen this type of bad weather very often. The Pétionville Club is a huge golf course where almost 40,000 displaced people settled in an overcrowded makeshift camp after the earthquake. The situation in the camp is critical. It is particularly ill-adapted [...]

Haiti’s regions struggling to cope with displaced people

By |23 March 2010|

By Mathilde Magnier More than 600,000 people have fled the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince in search of shelter, food and solidarity after an earthquake devastated the city on January 12. The affected regions are struggling to cope with the massive arrival of refugees. In the small coastal town of Jérémie in the south of the island, the situation is particularly bad. Jérémie’s inhabitants are worried. “Look at this house. It has two rooms and a dozen people have to live here. It’s been like this for the last two months and very frankly, I don’t know how we can continue to feed everybody!” complains Willine Janvier. She is sitting on the porch of her wooden shack in the small town of Moron, a few kilometres away from Jérémie, where she lives with her four youngest children. In the aftermath of the earthquake, Willine and her husband have seen their five oldest children arrive [...]

On the menu for children in Haiti

By |12 March 2010|

The risks to children following Haiti’s earthquake include not only trafficking but also hunger. Up to 24 percent of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition in Haiti. In poorer areas, this figure is even greater. One of Caritas’ priorities in the earthquake’s aftermath has been to supply regular food to the survivors. So far, Caritas has provided 600,000 people with food. The Sainte Marie community in Port-au-Prince is one of the places Caritas has been giving out food to children. Today they are waiting for a hot meal consisting of rice, beans and meat. “Until two weeks ago, I didn’t used to eat regular meals,” says Géraldine, 14. “Now the food distributions have started in the community, my parents are reassured because they know I’ll eat at least once a day.” Over 5000 people have taken refuge in the Sainte Marie community in search of food and shelter. In collaboration with the [...]

School’s out in Haiti – but hopefully not forever

By |12 March 2010|

Most pupils like to get a day off school, but for Haiti’s children it’s not just a day but months. January’s earthquake destroyed 90 percent of schools, leaving children without an education “The schools must be reopened, children have to go back to their studies as quickly as possible,” says Fr Zucchi, head of four schools run by Salesians in Cité Soleil, one of the poorest areas of Port-au-Prince. “Children should be coming back into class at least in our schools at the beginning of April, once Easter is over.” Fr Zucchi is already planning the rebuilding of his schools. The list of things to do is long: clear away all the debris, assess the buildings which are still standing, buy materials for rebuilding and also teaching and put up temporary classrooms while the work is being done. Caritas is financing and supporting the rebuilding of the schools, just as it has [...]

January 19, 2010

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    Interview with Bishop Pierre Dumas, President of Caritas Haiti

Interview with Bishop Pierre Dumas, President of Caritas Haiti

By |19 January 2010|

I was visiting parts of my diocese the day before the earthquake. To get to one place I had to cross a lot of rivers. As we crossed one the water was “bubbling” and there were waves. We decided to stay that night at the diocesan training centre in Matean which is near the sea. But during the night waves started to hit the building and I thought “this is a tsunami!” The next day I returned to Port-au-Prince and ten minutes after I got out of the car the earthquake happened. There was a big bang and the house jumped , and I didn’t even have time to get out of the door before everything calmed down. Everyone came out onto the street. One of the first things I did was to try and contact my staff and reassure them. I told them not to be frightened and that this [...]

December 2, 2009

Rebuilding: Hurricane Survivors Move on With Caritas Help

By |2 December 2009|

Rolande Jean’s home sits a few feet from the edge of the Caribbean Sea, between the small town of Nippes, Haiti and, in September 2008, directly in the path of Hurricane Ike. When the Category 4 storm roared ashore, Jean huddled with her husband and children in their small wooden house, and bore the brunt of the storm’s fury. “The house was very badly damaged,” Jean said. “The river flooded the house, and the roof was torn completely off. We were in the house when it happened.” Forced from their home, the family took shelter with a neighbor across the street on higher ground, above the floodwaters left in the wake of the storm. Coming as it did on the heels of Hurricanes Gustav and Hanna, which wreaked havoc across Haiti, Ike was the last straw for many in this impoverished nation. In Nippes alone, nearly 1,400 homes were damaged or [...]

Haiti 2009: Back in Class

By |2 December 2009|

Soft spoken and demure, Junor Hesgazons leans intently into his schoolwork, his eyes casting constantly to the chalkboard as the day’s lesson takes shape. His white collared shirt neatly creased despite the humidity of southern Haiti, Hesgazons looks every bit the engineer he hopes one day to be. “I like to study engineering. I like mathematics and physics,” Hesgazons said. “I would like to build roads and bridges as a civil engineer.” But for Hesgazons, that journey thus far has been a hard one. Growing up poor near the city of Les Cayes, Hesgazons has struggled throughout his life to stay in school. For he and his family, as with many across Haiti, the $70 yearly school fees are a major burden. “Before, a family friend helped me [with fees], but he cannot afford to help me anymore,” Hesgazons said. When Hurricane Ike came ashore in September 2008, those difficulties were compounded. Across [...]

September 3, 2009

Haiti stuck in Groundhog Day

By |3 September 2009|

When was Haiti last in the news? You’ll probably have to wrack your brains before remembering that it last made the headlines in September 2008 when a series of tropical storms caused massive flooding and mudslides. Five months later, NGOs are wrapping up their emergency programmes and pulling out. No news on Haiti and the NGOs are going, so everything must be fine. Not quite. “People still aren’t in safe housing,” says William Canny, Country Representative for Caritas member Catholic Relief Services (CRS). “Buildings are still covered in mud. And what’s more, some of the issues that led to the mudslides haven’t been dealt with.” Haiti is considered the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. With its few resources it has to combat problems such as massive social inequalities, episodes of social unrest, hunger, lack of development and environmental degradation. On top of this, it lies in the Caribbean’s hurricane path and every [...]

November 3, 2008

Haitians cleaning up after Ike

By |3 November 2008|

By David Snyder for CRS and Caritas staff Like tens of thousands of those living in Gonaives, Haiti, Mertilus Jasmin spends most of his days knee deep in mud. Unlike most, however, he has a shovel in his hands, and is earning money to help dig the city out from the effects of Hurricane Ike. “My friends heard about it and told me,” Jasmin said of the cash-for-work project Caritas members have launched in Gonaives. “I am almost finished cleaning my house. After I work here I go home and work there.” Caritas is helping flood victims in Haiti and has provided food rations to 20,000 people across six departments after several tropical storms caused flooding, landslides and sea surges. Caritas is also distributing bottled water, hygiene kits, household items and providing temporary shelter to families affected by the floods. An emergency appeal for US$4.3 million has been launched to respond to [...]

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