A year in Haiti for one Caritas member organisation

Dr. Rodrigue Mortel, right, a CRS volunteer, treats patients at CRS partner, the St. Francois de Sales Hospital. Credits: Sarah Farjado/CRS

Dr. Rodrigue Mortel, right, a CRS volunteer, treats patients at CRS partner, the St. Francois de Sales Hospital.
Credits: Sarah Farjado/CRS

Catholic Relief Services (CRS – an American member of Caritas) had been working Haiti 55 years before the earthquake struck. On 12 January, CRS had a staff of around 300 on the ground who had been working on existing programmes. Here’s how the year panned out:

12 January: When the earthquake hits in the afternoon, many people are at work and children are at school. Mary Lineberger, who was in Haiti for CRS, said: “All around us we heard screaming and the crashing down of buildings. The falling of buildings continued for hours. We stayed there at the apartment complex and immediately pulled the mattresses out knowing that we would be sleeping outdoors for several nights.”

14 January: Staff in neighbouring Dominican Republic prepare 10,000 packages of food and water with each package containing enough to sustain a family of five for two weeks.

18 January: Doctors at St. Francois de Sales hospital in Port-au-Prince to perform their first operations since the earthquake destroyed about 70 percent of the hospital using CRS medical supplies. CRS soon forms six medical teams to provide preliminary care at sites where people have sought shelter.

19 January: CRS registers people at the Petionaville Golf Club makeshift camp and provides them with food, water and hygiene supplies.

22 January: CRS sets up a food distribution system to immediately feed more than 50,000 people. Plans are also taking shape to set up 50 more distribution points to reach 150,000 people.

17 February: Over one month after the earthquake, CRS has fed more than 500,000 people. Additionally, CRS helps keep the heavily damaged St. Francois de Sales Hospital running and distributes emergency shelter kits to more than 32,500 people.

5 April: Nearly 3 months after the earthquake, CRS has fed more than 700,000 people, given 45,000 outpatients treatment, provided more than 80,000 emergency shelter kits and hired about 1,700 people in cash-for-work programmes.

9 July: As Haiti prepares to mark the six month anniversary of the quake, CRS had distributed food to nearly 900,000 people in the Port-au-Prince area and 114,000 people received emergency shelter materials. CRS has completed 62,000 outpatient consultations and 960 emergency operations.

22 September: Eight months after the earthquake, CRS begins building transitional shelters for about 8,000 families.

23 October: Immediately after the outbreak of a cholera epidemic CRS and partners go tent to tent in 12 camps in Port-au-Prince, distributing three bars of soap each to more than 10,000 families (more than 50,000 people) and reaching thousands more through an information campaign that promotes hand washing and personal hygiene. CRS and Caritas hire local graffiti artist Jerry Rosembert to spray paint messages promoting good hygiene to prevent the spread of cholera.

5 November: Hurricane Thomas hits Haiti, narrowly missing Port-au-Prince. CRS feeds about 4,000 people seeking refuge in temporary shelters during the storm.

8 November:  St. Francois de Sales hospital in Port-au-Prince, which was destroyed in the earthquake, is reopened in a temporary facility. CRS worked with the hospital staff to construct the temporary quarters and move in new medical equipment and supplies.

By December 2010, CRS has fed more than one million people, provided shelter to 250,000, conducted around 70,000 outpatient hospital consultations, given short-term jobs to 10,000 people and offered protection and education to thousands of vulnerable people.

Caritas Internationalis

President: Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle
Secretary General: Michel Roy

Caritas Internationalis
Palazzo San Calisto
Vatican City State

Reception Desk: + 39 06 698 797 99
Fax: + 39 06 698 872 37
Email: caritas.internationalis@caritas.va

The office is open from Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm.

If you need to contact a staff member outside of office hours in a humanitarian emergency, please call + 39 334 359 0700 or email emergencies@caritas.va