Caritas staff from around the world are joining with their colleagues in Haiti to express mourning, solidarity and hope one year after a devastating earthquake.
The 12 January 2010 earthquake left 230,000 dead and affected three million people. Caritas has been part of international relief efforts to first save lives in the immediate weeks and months after the tragedy.
Caritas Internationalis is the official aid arm of the Catholic Church and its membership includes 165 Catholic charities. Eleven Caritas members are on the ground working alongside Caritas Haiti on a reconstruction programme with over 60 Caritas members supporting the work.
“We remember that day, which shook the whole nation,” said Caritas organisations working in Haiti in a joint declaration. “It's not so much the earthquake that took away our children, our relatives, our next of kin and our friends, as the poverty, ignorance and irresponsibility. We cannot be outraged against nature, but against poverty and ignorance we can. Let us pray and awaken our consciences in memory of our lost loved ones.”
Three months after the earthquake, Caritas relief efforts had reached more than 1.5 million survivors in the first phase of its operations.
“Each one of us Haitians helped his brother. The world then followed, in a unanimous and unmeasured movement of solidarity. May this expression of fraternity and exceptional humanity continue to help the most vulnerable”, said Caritas in Haiti.
Caritas launched a one-year programme beginning in May 2010, investing US$217 in reconstruction of homes, schools, healthcare facilities and communities. Activities such as building and repairing houses and ensuring earthquake-resistant construction make up almost a third of the budget.
“The Caritas family in Haiti is convinced that another world is possible in Haiti, a world without hunger, without illiteracy, a world providing a home for everybody. Let us be confident in our capacity to build a more just and more human Haiti, a country of love and equity where life is good”, said Caritas.
Over a million people still live in tented camps and endure intolerable conditions. The declaration contains a commitment from Caritas to “appeal to people’s consciences in front of the unacceptable”.
Mass was celebrated outside the destroyed Notre-Dame Cathedral in Port-au-Prince on the day of the anniversary. Caritas was also planning a ceremony in the Duval neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince to lay the cornerstone for a new building project.