Following an appeal on Jan. 21 for $42 million to provide 200,000 survivors of the disastrous earthquake in Haiti with immediate food, water, shelter and medical assistance, Head of Communications for Caritas Internationalis, Patrick Nicholson, told CNA on Tuesday that cumulative donations since then have added up to $65 million.
On Jan. 21, the Catholic charitable organization reported that financial support had been "flooding into Caritas offices around the world" since the earthquake and that, as of that date, Caritas Internationalis had received $33 million destined for Haiti. In the last five days the amount has very nearly doubled, bringing the total to $65 million.
Nicholson told CNA that contributions had come from all of the 165 countries where Caritas is present, in Asia, North and South America, Africa, Europe and the Pacific. They had even received a $5,000 contribution from Caritas members in the Congo.
"Operations are up and running," he said. "So far, we have 40 trucks bringing goods from the Dominican Republic."
There are currently about 500 Caritas staff working in Haiti, including 60 parish priests and religious working in 32 parishes to provide aid to around 150,000 people.
Asked what will be done with the donations in surplus of their appeal goal, Nicholson responded, "Caritas will use any remaining funds in the long-term reconstruction of Haiti. This will mean rebuilding schools and hospitals, providing permanent shelter, giving people back their livelihoods, and preparing them for future disasters."
These long term plans are still in their initial stages, he added, "at the moment we’re solely focused on the first phase of the emergency – saving lives by providing healthcare, food, water and temporary shelter."
Nicholson also expressed his concern at the lack of success stories being reported from Haiti in favor of news publicizing the difficulties facing aid operations. He said that there are plenty of successes to be reported, citing the examples of the reopening of the St. Francis de Sales Hospital and the fact that assistance reaches more people every day.
Catholic Relief Services is a member of Caritas Internationalis.