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CURRENT ISSUE:  January 25, 2010
VOL. 48, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Actions to save homes
Another Catholic mobilization on abortion in health reform
Catholic agencies rally to aid Haiti

Tears of joy over rescue
LEFT: Enu Zizi gets a drink of water after members of a Mexican search-and-rescue team pulled her alive Jan. 19 from the rubble in Port-au-Prince. She was one of five rescued that day from the ruins of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. RIGHT: Oscar Oliva, a firefighter from Cancun who was a member of the team, cries with joy as he embraces a fellow rescuer after the group pulled Zizi from the rubble, one week after the quake.

Donations to Catholic Relief Services for their aid efforts in Haiti can be made in the following ways:
• Donate via phone: 1-877-HELP-CRS
• Text RELIEF to 30644
• Donate online: www.crs.org
• Write a check/money order, payable to CRS/Haiti
     Catholic Relief Services
     P.O. Box 17090
     Baltimore, Maryland 21203-7090
Haitian woman in Oakland grieves loss of family, friends
Nuns, priests among Haiti’s dead
East Bay Catholics volunteer, raise funds for quake victims

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Facing a growing humanitarian crisis after the largest earthquake in Haiti in two centuries, Catholic aid agencies and world governments were boosting efforts to respond to the needs of hundreds of thousands of injured and homeless.

Agencies such as Jesuit Refugee Service and Catholic Relief Services as well as smaller organizations from around the world have raised millions of dollars to provide medical services, feed and shelter people and head off the rapid spread of disease.

The agencies were coordinating efforts with other religious, nongovernmental and government operations as hunger grew and some Haitians became increasingly impatient because they had received little or no assistance in the week since the 7.0 magnitude quake hit Jan. 12.

Haitian government and relief agency authorities estimate that 200,000 people died, another 300,000 people were injured and up to 3 million of Haiti’s 9.8 million people were affected by disaster.

Relief camps

Catholic Relief Services has turned a Port-au-Prince golf course into one of the first formal camps for persons displaced by the quake. CRS officials report that the agency is also delivering hygiene kits, plastic sheeting and limited amounts of food and water to a number of informal camps that have sprung up in the devastated city.

At the Petionville Club, CRS is working with United Nations officials and the United States military to turn an informal camp that has attracted 20,000 people during the day and up to 50,000 at night into a formal facility for the displaced, registering residents and delivering buckets of food, sanitation items and water to displaced Haitians.

Residents reach for packets of water during a food distribution in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 15, three days after a catastrophic earthquake rocked the impoverished Caribbean nation.
CNS photo/Kena Betancur, Reuters

“We are grateful to the 82nd Airborne for providing security,” said Annemarie Reilly, CRS Vice President for Overseas Operations. “This camp at Petionville will provide thousands of Haitians with the relief they so desperately need.”

CRS, the international aid agency of U.S. Catholics, has served the needs of Haitians for over 50 years and has mobilized its 300-person staff and material resources to respond to this latest catastrophe to hit an already impoverished and destitute people.

In churches throughout the U.S., a second collection was taken up Jan. 17 for CRS disaster work in Haiti. The Oakland Diocese hosted a benefit concert for CRS at the Cathedral of Christ the Light Jan. 24. Noted mezzo soprano Frederica von Stade, a member of St. Joseph Basilica Parish in Alameda, and the San Francisco Boys Chorus were among the performers.

As of Jan. 19, CRS has received $16.5 million in cash donations and commitments, including $1 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $225,000 from the New York Yankees baseball team.

“It may look to many in the rest of the world that those in need are not receiving any aid, but actually thousands here in Port-au-Prince have gotten help,” said Karel Zelenka, CRS Haiti country representative, Jan. 19.

“It must be understood that an apocalypse occurred in a place where there was hardly any infrastructure before—hence the huge logistical challenges.

A child stands beside a soldier after receiving an U.S. aid package in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 18.

“Whatever those challenges, we know that the destruction of this earthquake was so vast that even if thousands have gotten help, many, many more need assistance.”

Medical care

CRS has delivered medical supplies to St. Francois de Sales Hospital in Port-au-Prince, helping to get that heavily damaged facility up and running in the devastated city. The hospital, which lost 70 percent of its facilities, is using buildings that remain intact along with tents. Three medical teams — one Haitian, one Italian, and one Belgian, are working in the hospital, aided by supplies from the Catholic Medical Mission Board and others, which CRS delivered.

Caritas Internationalis, numerous other Catholic aid agencies and Catholic religious orders were working alongside CRS staff in a vast outpouring of assistance.

As the pace of the response accelerated, agencies took extra security measures after reports of looting in some Port-au-Prince neighborhoods.

CRS was sending in its security expert from Africa and was working with U.N. peacekeepers to protect convoys as supplies were taken across the border from the neighboring Dominican Republic.director for Jesuit Refugee Service USA in Washington, said the agency had opened several medical centers to assist injured people in some of the poorest neighborhoods of the Haitian capital and the surrounding area. The agency had raised about $150,000 for its relief effort as of Jan. 19.

Jesuit-run hospitals and clinics in the Port-au-Prince neighborhoods of Turgeau, Haut Turgeau, Delmas and Canape Vert reopened. A health care facility in the quake-ravage town of Leogane, about 25 miles west of Port-au-Prince, also reopened, Fuchs said.

Teams of medical personnel from across the United States were being shuttled to Haiti. Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and Loyola University Chicago are among institutions sending medical staff.

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