Caritas reinforcing communities one year after Italy’s earthquake
30 March 2010
Caritas has completed major rebuilding projects in the central Italian town of Aquila one year after an earthquake caused major damage.
One of three schools that Caritas has built over the year
The 6.3 magnitude earthquake on 6th April 2009 left over 66,000 people homeless and 308 people dead. Not only did historical buildings collapse, but also ones recently built structures such as schools and the local hospital.
“The earthquake destroyed the heart of L’Aquila, and that was the place where people came together,” says Danilo Feliciangeli, who heads Caritas’ coordination centre in L’Aquila. “By losing that, everyone lost many of their reference points. Caritas is trying to create new centres for communities where people can meet and think about their future and that of their city.”
Over the past year Caritas has built three schools, five community centres and other buildings that will benefit the community and parishes. Caritas is also constructing accommodation to re-house those made homeless during the earthquake. There is a particular focus on helping the elderly, children, immigrants, families in difficulty and people with mental health issues.
Apart from rebuilding communities, Caritas’ long-term goal in L’Aquila is to reboot the economy through credit schemes, grants, support for people launching businesses or social projects and professional training.
The Caritas headquarters in L’Aquila which was destroyed during the earthquake has also been rebuilt.
Over 3000 volunteers from around Italy have supported Caritas work in L’Aquila over the past year. Dioceses from around Italy were “twinned” with districts of L’Aquila to ensure continuity in national support following the earthquake.
In a huge outpouring of solidarity, people have donated over US$36 million (27 million euro) to Caritas for the long-term reconstruction of L’Aquila. Over US$25 million of this was collected in Italy alone.
Caritas’ post-earthquake work started the day after the disaster with the distribution of food, clothes, tents and the offer of psychological support.
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