Lent 2013: Together we are more
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. - Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Caritas provides medical care for Sudanese refugees in Camp Bilal
“Three years ago, in 2009, our harvest was destroyed by a flock of birds,” said Hadjara Dongong, a farmer in the Hadj al-Dérib, a village in the West African country of Chad. “In 2010, floods devastated the fields. Last year, the locusts infested the crop and, as if this was not be enough, it almost did not rain for the whole year. We had to eat wild plants,” she said.
At Caritas in 2012, we could identify with Hadjara. One crisis came on top of another and Caritas responded to more emergencies than ever. We helped war refugees from Syria, those flooded out by a typhoon in the Philippines, people who had lost everything in disasters and many others across the world. But the emergencies we responded to were mostly about how the daily struggle for survival for people like Hadjara moved from being difficult to becoming impossible.
In Africa, around 20 million people in seven countries went hungry when crops failed and a hunger crisis took hold. Caritas worked across all these countries to provide nutrition, support to farming and to help communities prepare for future disasters.
At times like these, Caritas Internationalis’ Emergency Response Team works tirelessly to ensure the technical and financial support coordination necessary. The team works with Caritas organisations on the ground to tackle the crisis at its very heart. This may mean travelling to the disaster zone or working by phone and email from their base in the Vatican. They coordinate teams of Caritas staff from across the world, they train and advise and they make sure that Caritas’ emergency work is as efficient and as effective as possible and aid money is used wisely. They accompany Caritas staff on the ground when providing help is an uphill struggle.
We have learned from disasters like the Asian tsunami, the earthquake in Haiti and food crises such as the one in West Africa last year that coordination says lives. Caritas organisations understand that by working together in a crisis they can help more people and provide lasting solutions to poverty. Extreme weather is putting a greater number of people at risk. Conflicts plague the world still. And the gap between the have and have-not’s only grows. As need increases, so do the demands placed on the Emergency Response Team.
Caritas Internationalis was entrusted by the Vatican to direct the humanitarian response of the Catholic Church. Caritas has carried out its work for over 60 years with the blessings of the Popes. We are many, yet we are one.
Our network works with communities before, during and after disasters strike. We are many yet we act as one. We know we can do more for people like Hadjara with your help.
Hadjara does not dwell in the past despite such bad experiences. She is happy that the most recent harvest looks promising. “We will –God willing – have a good crop”, she said, thanks to seeds for cultivation obtained due to the financial support of the international Caritas network.
This Lent, please give generously and join our Emergency Response Team. Visit www.caritas.org and click on Lenten Appeal on our home page to make your donation online.
Yours in Christ,
Oscar Andrés Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B.
President of Caritas Internationalis