Haitians need more than material assistance, advises Caritas in Port-au-Prince

Bishop Pierre-Andre Dumas
Bishop Pierre-Andre Dumas


The local president of Caritas in Haiti, Bishop Pierre-Andre Dumas told L'Osservatore Romano about Caritas' activities in reaching the people with assistance and underscored the necessity that the international community not allow Haitians to lose hope and confidence. "They need to hear, 'We are here and we are staying!'”

"Now the survivors need more than anything to feel that we are their neighbors, they need encouragement and hope. They need to hear someone say, 'We're on our feet and we want to stay standing',” said the bishop in an interview with the Vatican newspaper.

Asked about the alleged poor management of resources by agencies providing assistance in Haiti, Bishop Dumas said, "If there is controversy, this surely does not regard the Catholic Church."

Calling the Caritas operation a "machine," the bishop explained that he and another operative from Caritas International personally coordinate the operations which are a point of reference for non-religious humanitarian organizations.

Mentioning that from their observations, dropping supplies in by air is not the "most idyllic solution,” they work to reach areas on the ground. He elaborated, "We have chosen to send trucks directly with aid products, without making them wait in storage, as has otherwise happened, provoking chaos in the connections."

The bishop said that there are now 15 international Caritas agencies at work in Haiti. Some have come with dogs to find people under the rubble.

"The Church, through the commitment of Caritas, is giving proof of true leadership and of strong unity."

"This is the best answer to the controversy and to those who want the emergency to become a race of who does best and first. To be the best means to discover God in the suffering faces of each person and concretely render timely and effective aid, without losing ourselves in questions that are not useful."

Bishop Dumas said the the main things that are needed in Haiti right now are food, water, tents and hygiene kits.

But, he added, "most of all, the population needs to not feel abandoned. The fear is that everything will be resolved in a wave of material assistance, without there being a serious reconstruction plan that follows."

There is also a risk that some people might take advantage of the situation while it is very important to show human spiritual and brotherly "proximity" right now.

"The Haitian people have already suffered from murder and other natural disasters. That's why they must not lose confidence, they need to hear, "We are here and we are staying!'”


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