Haiti: Catholic hospital re-opens

Caritas staff load up hygiene kits at their warehouse in Port-au-Prince. [Michelle Hough/Caritas International]

Caritas staff load up hygiene kits at their warehouse in Port-au-Prince. [Michelle Hough/Caritas International]

"CAFOD partners in Haiti are delivering vital aid to many of those that need it most and have re-opened the Catholic hospital providing hundreds of people with medical care", a report from CAFOD reads.

"We are working through Caritas International, a group of Catholic aid agencies – and have already restocked six warehouses in the capital so we can distribute essential water and food supplies.

Matthew Carter, CAFOD’s head of humanitarian programmes said: “The Catholic Church for a long time has been one of the main providers of health care in Haiti, and we managed to re-open the Catholic hospital in Port-au-Prince, after it had been closed for six days.

“Our next target is the 28 church local health clinics, which we hope to have up and running in the next four days."

SaraF from Catholic Relief Services/Caritas US, writes in her blog for CAFOD:

A symphony of clunks, clangs, and taps resonates in the Catholic Relief Services’ Dominican warehouse as dozens of volunteers drop crackers, sardines, canned beans, juice boxes, and other food items into endless rows of white plastic buckets. Catholic Relief Service is a US member of Caritas.

In the dimly lit but overflowing structure, Haitian University students work side-by-side with local youth groups, former street children and Caritas staff to prepare much needed food and hygiene kits for survivors of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that wracked the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

Working long hours in sweltering conditions, some volunteers carry extra shirts to wipe their sweat-stained faces. Others sport back braces to support them in the fill-close-lift-and-toss-on-trucks workout that has become their routine.

In the first weekend alone, enough food buckets to feed more than 5,000 people and another 500 hygiene kits were prepared and shipped out.

The response that Caritas have seen since the earthquake struck has been tremendous. The waves of volunteers have not ebbed and staff members are stepping up to make sure that the caravan of aid is uninterrupted.

Working 15-18 hour days, people like Eric Gómez, who usually heads a CRS program to help stop child labor, have scoured stores and taken over the logistics of keeping the warehouse stocked with supplies.

“Life will never be the same,” Eric says of the impact the earthquake has had on her. “It makes you value what you’ve been given.”

Trucks carrying in supplies and trucking out prepared food and hygiene buckets arrive and depart the warehouse in equal measure. With a conductor’s efficiency of movement, the volunteers fill rows of buckets, stack water bottles, and sort food cans.

When the time comes to load outgoing trucks, they form a human chain and lob the plastic pails from hand-to-hand while counting off how many have been loaded, 345 they chant, 346, 347. . . .

A week into their efforts the volunteers continue to pour in and the rhythmic symphony of relief efforts has yet to skip a beat.

“It’s something we all need to do,” says Edual, 17, who came from the neighboring city of Boca Chica to help.

“We don’t just share a border with Haiti, we share an island, and I hope that all people unite to help them.”

As long as there is a need CRS and Caritas Dominica will continue to work and dispatch trucks of relief supplies to their western neighbors.

Posted by SaraF (Catholic Relief Services/Caritas US)

To support the Haiti Earthquake Appeal, click on: cafod.force.com/donate?id=70180000000fKQU

Tags: CAFOD, Haiti

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