Haiti Earthquake, One month later: Prayer and Perseverance

Shelter kits

CRS emergency response team, technical advisor for shelter and settlements, Isaac Boyd, helps to prepare containers of nails for 7,000 shelter kits. Photo by Sara A. Fajardo/CRS

On this one-month anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Catholic Relief Services joins with the Haitian people in three days of prayer commencing today as our brothers and sisters across this country honor the memory of their relatives, friends, neighbors and colleagues.

Among those grieving are members of our CRS Haiti staff, as well as our partners in Port-au-Prince and beyond. We join them in their grief and offer heartfelt condolences.
The CRS staff in Haiti has been working tirelessly since the earthquake struck to provide vital relief to the survivors. The work has just begun. CRS has been in Haiti for more than 50 years, and we will continue to accompany its people through the long process of relief, recovery and rebuilding.

“Haitians lived incredibly precarious lives before the eathquake,” said Scott Campbell, country representative for CRS Haiti. “Now the difficulties they face are much more severe.”

Shelter nails

Workers help to prepare containers of nails for 7,000 shelter kits to be distributed to the Petionville golf course where people have set up a makeshift camp in the aftermath of earthquake. Photo by Sara A. Fajardo/CRS

The generosity of Catholics in the United States, many of whom have a personal relationship with Haitian families through parish and diocesan relationships, has been overwhelming. This generosity has enabled CRS to accomplish a great deal over the past four weeks:

o To date, CRS and our local partner, Caritas Haiti, has distributed food to more than 200,000 people. Many of the rations contain enough to last for at least two weeks. The food was provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Food for Peace program. CRS has also helped in a massive rice distribution coordinated by the U.N.’s World Food Program.

o We have provided medical supplies to 10,000 people. Just days after the earthquake, CRS helped to get the nearly destroyed St. Francios de Sales Hospital up and running again. Surgical teams from the University of Maryland are rotating into the country on a regular basis, and they are performing more than 20 surgeries every day.

o CRS is very concerned about the welfare of children affected by this tragedy. We are setting up child-friendly spaces, where they will be free to play and be provided with care that will offer peace of mind to worried parents.

o Prior to the earthquake, CRS Haiti was supporting 101 orphanages and child care centers in Port-au-Prince and Les Cayes, which care for more than 9,500 children. CRS has been in contact with these centers and others since the disaster, providing appropriate relief as quickly as possible. In the long-term, CRS will be supporting child placements within extended families, for alternative care outside orphanages, and to address the root causes that lead to children being vulnerable and at risk.

o CRS is formulating plans to assist families who have migrated to the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic

o The CRS/Caritas Haiti health team is working in nine sites – predominantly camps and clinics – and looking to expand to 15 sites, all in areas in and around Port-au-Prince. The health team has trained 40 people to go out into the camps and other sites to deliver five short public health messages about sanitation, personal hygiene, small wound care, use of latrines and portable toilets, and when and where to seek health care.

o CRS is intensively working on providing people with better shelter as the rainy season approaches. We have distributed supplies that will enable families to construct safer and more durable temporary shelter to more than 60,000 people. We are working on plans for building even more durable transitional shelters. Work on that should begin next month.

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