Last summer, Cross Catholic Outreach rallied donors to support a life-changing cause. We needed help funding a number of impactful projects identified as important missions of mercy by the Populorum Progressio Foundation — the Church’s charitable arm in Latin America and the Caribbean.
With help from U.S. Catholics, we directly funded these poverty relief programs endorsed by Latin American bishops. In doing so, we ensured that the poorest of the poor were served and that local, fiscally responsible Catholic leaders could manage the funds and the projects.
This effort has had an incredible impact on children and families in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela.
Water is essential to life, but in rural Colombia, the daily task of fetching water can be dangerous. Women and children in the remote village of Wounaan Phobor would walk more than two hours along muddy trails to find suitable fresh water, risking assault and even kidnapping along the way.
But recently, thanks to our generous donors, the Church built a rainwater collection, filtration and storage system that now provides clean, safe drinking water to 60 people. Families also received sanitation and hygiene training and learned how to maintain their cisterns.
During this time, the Church also supported life-changing water projects in Bolivia and Brazil, ensuring that this basic necessity is accessible to the underprivileged.
Effective farming techniques are vital in the fight against hunger — and they support our belief that God’s people should properly care for his creation. Food insecurity has grown increasingly prevalent in Latin America, where disrupted supply chains have made it more difficult than ever for impoverished families to access nutritious meals.
In Paulo Afonso, Brazil, severe droughts had decimated crops. Cross Catholic Outreach equipped the local diocese to install an irrigation system and provide families with vegetable seeds. Families then split their harvest with their neighbors, eating some and selling the surplus in local markets.
Agriculture support in Brazil and also in Colombia is helping stem the tide of global malnutrition so children can grow up healthy and strong.
Cross Catholic Outreach helped restore the dignity of conscientious men and women by giving them a blessed opportunity to earn their daily bread. For example, gifts from our donors supported animal husbandry in Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador, as well as fruit processing in Brazil.
In Managua, Nicaragua’s bustling capital city, we blessed 25 families with small-business loans for survivors of violence. These men and women were ostracized from society, but now they are empowered to break the chains of poverty. They operate successful businesses ranging from carpentry, shoemaking and baking to cellphone repair, clothing sales and saddlery.
Related: Support microenterprise for the poor.
In developing countries, a simple cold can become a life-threatening respiratory infection. A small wound can develop into deadly gangrene. Not only are antibiotics, bandages and over-the-counter drugs scarce — but some families even struggle to find clean, safe water to wash out a wound.
This is one of the reasons local bishops in Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela appealed to the Church to support health outreaches. Within their dioceses, Catholic leaders proposed plans to expand vaccinations, medical screenings and other vital medical services, but they needed our financial support to provide those programs.
In the Peruvian Amazon, we helped meet the medical needs of families in 39 villages. These families lacked adequate care because medical staff did not speak the local language. Our donors’ gifts helped sponsor three new clinics, medicines and supplies, and train 18 villagers to serve as translators for patients.
Cross Catholic Outreach works through the Church because we believe the needs of the poor — and of all human beings — go deeper than the merely physical.
We pray that this work may have a lasting impact, not only improving the material well-being of the poor, but also strengthening them in mind and spirit and leading them ever further into the arms of Christ. Every need, every hardship, is an opportunity to manifest his love and carry out his call; and we are tremendously grateful for all who have joined us in this mission!