Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan 12, 2015 / 19:15 pm
Five years ago today, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake decimated St. Francois de Sales Hospital in the heart of Port-au-Prince.
Now, the more than 100-year-old hospital is preparing to reopen its doors for the first time since the disaster – thanks, in part, to the work of Catholic Relief Services.
Catholic Relief Services partnered with the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince and the Catholic Health Association to rebuild the historic 125,000 square foot hospital. The finished project will also serve as a state-of-the-art university teaching hospital.
However, for Catholic Relief Services, success doesn't lie in the reconstruction of the hospital – but in the empowerment of the local Catholic Church and the Haitian community as a whole.
"It's Haitians empowering Haitians," said Darren Hercyck, director of Catholic Relief Services' work in the nation. "We are there really to strengthen the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince to run this hospital. Our goal is for Haitians to see Haitians providing quality service."
Haiti is continuing to pick up the pieces after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck on January 12, 2010. The United Nations estimates the quake killed more than 200,000 Haitians and destroyed the homes of more than 2 million.
The effects of the quake continue to reverberate today.
"The earthquake affected the entire country in a profound way, and it still is, I would say," said Kim Lamberty, senior advisor for CRS Haiti, in an interview with CNA/EWTN News. "It's hard to fathom that more than 200,000 people died in a matter of minutes."
"I have such deep admiration for the strength and the resilience of the Haitian people."
Besides rebuilding St. Francois de Sales Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Catholic Relief Services is also working to transform the structure of Catholic education in Haiti.
The Haitian Ministry of Education estimates at least 23 percent of schools in Haiti were affected by the 2010 earthquake. Instead of rebuilding structures, Catholic Relief Services has turned their attention to the education system in Haiti.
Through a partnership with Notre Dame University, CRS conducted a massive study of the more than 2,300 Catholic schools in the nation.
"The decision by the Church...was really to focus on quality education," Hercyck said. "The report didn't say that there were vacancies in the schools, the report didn't say we needed more schools. But, really, the quality of education – that was the piece that really came out."
Now, 1,000 teachers are going through the Haitian government's teacher certification program. Catholic Relief Services registered another 1,000 teachers this year. The teachers represent six of Haiti's ten dioceses, and Hercyck said CRS hopes to put all Catholic school teachers in Haiti through the certification process.
For Hercyck, the teacher certification program is CRS' most "dignified" programs because it is empowering Haitians to direct the future of their nation.
"(Haitians) are not seeing this hope coming from the airport, their seeing hope coming from within Haiti," he said.
To see more before and after photos courtesy of Catholic Relief Services, visit our blog at: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/blog/haiti-five-years-later-in-pictures/