The Catholic Church is a beacon of hope, and whenever disaster strikes, it plays a critical role in ending suffering and restoring lost hope. This is especially true in Haiti, where families know their local parishes are one of the reliable support systems they can count on while their country faces tremendous challenges. But where can Haiti’s Catholic leaders turn when a devastating natural disaster strikes?
In this article, you will learn more about the Catholic Church’s response after a powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. We’ll cover:
On August 14, 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti’s Sud, Grand’Anse and Nippes departments, leveling more than 100,000 homes along with schools, health care facilities and churches. According to the United Nations, the earthquake directly affected 800,000 people, including 300,000 children whose access to schooling was interrupted.
Making matters worse, just days later, Tropical Storm Grace lashed the same hard-hit communities, destroying crops during the peak of the harvest season. Medical supplies ran short, and overcrowded hospitals treated patients in hallways and under tents as the country remained in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cross Catholic Outreach has two decades of experience working in Haiti and coordinated millions of dollars in aid following the 2010 earthquake. That experience helped our personnel on the ground in Haiti to secure much-needed supplies and manage relief efforts with local priests and religious and lay workers. With the help of our faithful supporters, we immediately stepped forward with much-needed financial grants and shipments of resources. Thanks to friends like you, we activated a three-stage action plan:
Stage 1: Address immediate needs for food, medical care and temporary shelter.
Stage 2: Continue supporting communities with food and medical care.
Stage 3: Help families rebuild their lives by expanding programs to build safe concrete-block homes.
Cross Catholic Outreach provided a rapid response, reaching out to its network of trusted ministry partners on the ground in Haiti within hours after the earthquake. During the first two stages of Cross Catholic Outreach’s action plan, we addressed families’ most pressing needs — including the massive need for food.
With the help of faithful friends like you, our partners distributed approximately 2.4 million protein-rich Vitafood meals to earthquake survivors to fight the threat of malnutrition. Vitafood is a fortified rice, potato or lentil base product with the optimal nutritional value to help children and adults thrive. These nutritious meals were packed into 40-foot containers, placed on cargo ships, and sent to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where our trusted partners transported meals to the most severely impacted regions to feed families most in need. We also repurposed existing shipments to ensure families in greatest need were fed.
Cross Catholic Outreach was sensitive to the needs of Haiti’s most vulnerable populations, including pregnant mothers, families touched by disabilities, the elderly and those experiencing incarceration. We processed and delivered 5,700 pounds of locally purchased food and temporarily supported six feeding centers that provided 800 hot meals per day while also supporting a daily feeding program that served 450 inmates.
LEARN MORE: Hunger in Haiti and Its Devastating Effects
Haiti’s remote mountain villages already had limited access to quality medical care before the earthquake, but in the aftermath the situation immediately worsened as roads became impassable.
Cross Catholic Outreach responded to this critical need by airlifting 3,200 pounds of relief supplies in October 2021, including critical medicines and medical supplies. Our partner, Grand’Anse Health & Development Association (GAHDA), used these supplies to support a network of rural health clinics and expanded its efforts to include the most remote clinics where access to health care is severely limited. We also equipped two mobile clinics and temporarily supported a hospital that was in dire need of surgical supplies.
We also provided financial and material aid to the Haitian Resource Development Foundation (HRDF) to support a fully functioning field clinic, which was set up in an athletic field. In the weeks following the earthquake, medical professionals treated approximately 100 patients per day. Beginning in late August, HRDF began operating mobile medical clinics near Grosse Caille and Brodequin, collectively treating more than 2,000 patients.
Housing is one of the biggest long-term challenges Haiti’s earthquake survivors face. Thousands of families lost their homes, and many have been forced to sleep in crumbling structures or seek temporary shelter elsewhere.
Cross Catholic Outreach is committed to helping families rebuild their homes and lives. After the earthquake, we reached out to our housing partner in the area and learned that all the homes we previously built remained standing. We consider this to be a great miracle, and it has encouraged us to apply the same rigorous design standards to repair and rebuild homes for even more families in need. It is our goal to build a total of 162 homes to give families strong, safe places to live.
Food, medical care and safe housing are three of the main components in Cross Catholic Outreach’s earthquake recovery plan. We are also focused on disaster preparedness — strategically positioning material aid at our distribution center in Haiti to ensure rapid distribution whenever it’s needed. We are also collaborating with local partners to train families in animal husbandry and proven farming techniques to give families sustainable food sources. Combined, these efforts will put Haitian families in a stronger position whenever disaster strikes.
In these challenging times, Cross Catholic Outreach is committed to upholding the dignity of every man, woman and child. Your support will allow us to extend life-changing support to Haitian families who have endured so much. Please, pray for our brothers and sisters in Haiti and join us today to support incredible and innovative Church missions. There is a reason for hope — and it starts with you!
Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.