Posts Tagged ‘Latin America’

Pope in Cuba: Church Welcomes Older, Marginalized Population

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
Cuba help

Mercedes Hernandez Valdez is a volunteer with Caritas Cubana and runs a soup kitchen in San Agustin parish in Havana. CRS works in Cuba through Caritas Cubana to tend the needs of the most vulnerable. Photo by Robyn Fieser/CRS

By Robyn Fieser

With 18 percent of its 11 million people over the age of 60, Cuba is the country in Latin America with the second largest concentration of elderly people.

That is due in part to the country’s health care system and longer life expectancies, low birth rates, and a good amount of emigration without the counterbalancing immigration. In other words, while plenty of people leave Cuba, most of them younger. There isn’t a lot of immigration into the country to take their place. Meanwhile, the population is getting older and living longer.

For more than 20 years, Caritas Cubana has made it a priority to help care for Cuba’s elderly, who tend to be poor and marginalized. Some 7,000 volunteers throughout the country’s 11 dioceses work together to make life a little easier for older people, many of whom live alone and struggle to make ends meet on the small pensions they receive.

8.8 Earthquake Strikes Chile

Saturday, February 27th, 2010
Chile quake

The quake struck near the city of Concepcion. Map courtesy US government

While CRS does not have an office in Chile, where a 8.8-magnitude earthquake hit early Saturday morning, we, along with the Catholic humanitarian network, stand poised to help if needed. CRS staff in Bolivia, our South American hub, are closely watching the situation in Chile, which includes tsunami warnings for other countries in South America, as well as in the Asia Pacific.

‘Climate Experts’ of San Pablo, Guatemala

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Last week, I left the big city, and, for that matter, my entire island home of the Dominican Republic, behind. I headed for the Guatemalan highlands, to the town of San Marcos, nestled in lush green hills located a good five hours from the capital and the airport. And from there I would travel another two hours into the deepest and steepest of hills where I would sit in a classroom with eight men from the community of San Pablo, seemingly isolated, seemingly miles from nowhere, and discuss…Climate Change.

I was traveling as a part of a team of people from six different countries and five different national and international organizations, and we were being trained in a process that helps agencies that support communities such as San Pablo consider how climate change might impact their future.

In Peru, Mom Fights for Children’s Dreams

Monday, June 29th, 2009

We were introduced to Rosa Hidalgo during a midday visit to the Christian Cooperation for Development (COCID) in Moyobamba, Peru. Her words are still etched in my memories.

Brazil Flood: Worst in Region in Decades

Friday, June 19th, 2009
Brazil flood

A bicyclist slogs through food waters following rains that displaced more than 400,000 in northern Brazil. Photo courtesy of Caritas Brazil

The northern Brazil town of Codó was recently inundated with torrential rains and severe flooding. Catholic Relief Services is providing at least 4,000 families with essential hygiene supplies.

Brazil Flooding: Neighbors Helping Neighbors in Need

Thursday, June 18th, 2009
Brazil flood

The flood waters in the city of Codó washed out entire homes and left more than 3,000 residents in this town homeless. Photo courtesy of Caritas Brazil

Fr. José Wasensteiner of the parish of Sao Raimundo, City of Codó, state of Maranhão, reports on flooding in and around his parish.

Flooded parts of northeast Brazil, especially in our city of Codó, are in chaos. While some of the water has receded, many streets are impassable and thousands of people are homeless. In Codó, about 3,206 people have been displaced. Of these, 58 families, almost 300 people, are housed in day-care centers and in the São Raimundo parish.

The floodwaters, propelled by two months of incessant rain, have submerged entire houses in communities near the Itapecuru river. The first flood occurred between the 21st and 24th of April, following heavy rain that began early in the month. The water rose very high and flooded houses in the Saint Antonio quarter of the city, but the situation was relatively controlled. But as the rain persisted the river overflowed its banks, causing severe flooding the nights of May 3 and 4.

Ex-Guerillas Build Coffee Cooperative

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

CRS regional information officer Robyn Fieser filed this report from Guatemala:

Egypt lake

Angel Benjamin “Minchu,” a member of organic coffee cooperative Santa Anita La Union, and Luis Rhor of CRS Guatemala evaluate a young coffee plant. Photo by Robyn Fieser/CRS

I must admit, the prospect of visiting a coffee cooperative formed by ex-guerilla combatants who fought during Guatemala’s 36-year internal armed conflict was exciting. It was enough to make me pack my six-month old and every toy I could find into the Toyota 4runner and head toward the country’s Western Highlands.

I knew Santa Anita La Unión was a community of 32 farming families which had received land the government distributed as part of the Peace Accords in 1996. The largely Mayan community, which grows organic coffee and bananas and runs an eco-tourism program, is well known among the Americans who come to Guatemala to help start cooperatives of female weavers and teach in local schools. There’s a certain mystique surrounding it. I’ve been told, for example, that it’s a model for how communal living cultivates self-reliance and alleviates poverty.

HIV Patients Find Safe Harbor in Guyana Hospice

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

CRS photojournalist and communications officer Sara Fajardo reports from her visit to Guyana:

Patients at the CRS sponsored St. Vincent de Paul Hospice Center measure health in belt notches.

“When I arrived two weeks ago I had to wear a belt to keep my pants up,” says new hospice resident Terrenc, 32, “But with the good food they feed us I no longer need one.”

Life Hands Guyana Writer New Material

Monday, March 9th, 2009

CRS photojournalist and communications officer Sara Fajardo reports from her visit to Guyana:

If Ansel Watts’ life were a novel it would be listed under three categories: adventure, tragedy, and redemption. When he was 23 he stowed away on a Miami-bound ship that set sail from his native Guyana. After 7 overheated days of no light, his only meals bread and water, the ship stopped. He peered outside and saw palm trees and beaches dotted with luxury hotels. “This must surely be Miami,” he thought to himself and climbed ashore. But Ansel miscalculated, it was one stop too soon. He’d landed in the Bahamas, still an ocean away from his intended destination.

Guyana Traveler Delayed by Weighty Problem

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Communications Officer Sara Fajardo is traveling in Guyana, reporting on CRS programs and sharing her experiences with us.

I’m shocked when the lady at the ticket counter at Trans Guyana airlines asks me to step on the large scale normally used for luggage. I hobble on, my over-30-pounds of gear securely on my back, my small overnight bag at my feet. I lean on the counter. Stand up straight she tells me. Looks me up and down, pulls out a calculator.