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Haiti continues to need our help Print
Editorial
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Jul. 15, 2010 -- 12:00 AM

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It has been six months since an earthquake devastated the country of Haiti, affecting an estimated three million people and leaving more than one million Haitians homeless.

Immediately after the earthquake, people throughout the world responded generously with humanitarian aid. The outpouring of support was especially needed in Haiti, which was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere before the quake.

Pledging assistance to Haiti

In order to seek more support, a Haiti Donor Conference was held in May in New York. At that time, $5.27 billion was pledged by nearly 40 countries and international institutions over the next two years.

The United States pledged $1.15 billion across fiscal years 2010 and 2011 pending supplemental funding from the U.S. Congress. This reconstruction pledge is in addition to the nearly $1.1 billion that the U.S. has already contributed towards relief and recovery efforts.

Also, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have joined together — at the request of President Barack Obama — to lead a major public fundraising effort. They established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and have so far raised over $36 million from U.S. businesses and individuals. This is on top of the $1 billion American citizens have donated since January through the United States and non-governmental organizations.

Although much of the aid money has been put to use in Haiti, a recent news report indicated that only about 10 percent of the funds pledged to Haiti have actually been given. The American reconstruction pledge must be approved by Congress, so obviously those funds have not yet been allocated to Haiti.

Catholic Relief Services is on the ground

One non-governmental agency that has been busy on the ground in Haiti is Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the overseas relief and development agency of the U.S. Catholic Church. Catholics in the Diocese of Madison and throughout the United States gave generously to help CRS provide fast and effective relief to the Haitian people.

As of June, CRS has distributed food to nearly 900,000 people in Haiti and provided emergency shelter materials to more than 114,000 people. CRS health care teams performed over 960 emergency operations and conducted 62,000 outpatient consultations.

In addition, CRS established five “child-friendly spaces” for unaccompanied children at camps, installed over 600 latrines and hand-washing stations, and set up potable water tanks and inflatable water bladders, providing an estimated 375,000 gallons of water per month.

After addressing immediate needs, CRS is embarking on a long-term and comprehensive plan of rebuilding and rehabilitation over the next five years, according to Ken Hackett, CRS president. First on its list is the construction of 8,000 new transitional shelters to house families.

How to help our neighbors in Haiti

Our neighbors in Haiti continue to need our help. I urge citizens to contact their representatives in Congress (House and Senate) asking that they approve the supplemental funding for Haiti’s reconstruction.

Even if you made an initial donation after the earthquake, consider making additional contributions to Catholic Relief Services or other aid efforts. Visit www.crs.org for more information on how you can help.

 
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