CRS executive extremely grateful for Catholic response

BALTIMORE—Catholic Relief Services and its Caritas partners have stepped up relief efforts in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas, delivering food and water to hundreds of thousands and providing medical care to thousands more.

To date, the charity has provided food to more than 100,000 people in Port-au-Prince, many of whom are gathered at the city’s largest camp run by CRS, according to a press release. Just days after the earthquake that killed an estimated 200,000 people and left as many as one million people without shelter, CRS turned a Port-au-Prince golf course into one of the first formal camps for the homeless,

delivering food, water and hygiene materials to some 40,000 people. Catholic Relief Services is collaborating with the local church in Haiti and its Catholic Caritas partners, including Caritas Haiti and the Caritas Internationalis confederation.

A CRS team also worked closely with Haitian colleagues to get one of the country’s oldest hospitals, St. Francois de Sales in Port-au-Prince, up and running within days of the disaster, according to the statement. Despite being 70-percent destroyed, CRS worked with the hospital administrator to  restore the hospital’s ability to receive patients, and volunteer medical teams are now performing up to 200 critical operations per week.

As camps are becoming more organized and with the rainy season looming, CRS is also stepping up efforts to build temporary shelter and stem the outbreak of disease that results from a lack of clean water and poor hygiene. CRS began installing large water storage bladders throughout the capital, and construction is underway of latrines and washing stations that will serve thousands of people at various CRS sites, including St. Francois de Sales.

“Catholic dioceses, parishes and schools across the country started mobilizing their networks immediately, and have generously, and creatively, supported our work to help the victims in Haiti,” said Joan Rosenhauer, CRS executive vice president for U.S. operations. “For that, we are extremely grateful.”

To date, CRS reports raising more than $38 million for its emergency response. Parishes are reporting generous second collections for Haiti; Catholic colleges and universities responded immediately by setting up special websites; Catholic schools held special masses, prayer services, concerts and fundraisers.

“We even heard of one little girl who sold all of her stuffed animals to raise donations. We really appreciate every effort, no matter how small or large,” Rosenhauer said.