During the second weekend of January CAFOD welcomed Fr Kawas, a partner from Haiti, to mark the third anniversary of the 2010 earthquake. Fr Kawas was in Haiti when the earthquake struck and has been involved in the Church’s response.
He shared stories of his own experience of the earthquake, in which 230,000 people were killed and more than 1.5 million were left homeless. Many people, including members of his family, were buried under the rubble and were rescued days later. He himself had no food for two days. The earthquake also destroyed Haiti’s water and sanitation systems, resulting in hundreds of thousands of people contracting cholera. CAFOD partners have been involved in helping people gain access to clean water and shelter. Young people in particular have received training to improve hygiene and prevent the spread of cholera. CAFOD partners have also supported people emotionally affected by the earthquake.
Three years on, the emergency camps have reduced in size, from 1.5 million being housed to only 300,000. However, there are still many challenges ahead, particularly in preventing a small minority of wealthy people from having an unfair say in matters such as the distribution of aid and land.
During his time in the Westminster Diocese, Fr Kawas also visited the London Haitian community for an event at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Hammersmith and the parish of Our Lady and St George in Enfield, where he met Bishop John Arnold.
Fr Kawas said that, thanks to CAFOD supporters, CAFOD’s Haitian partners had been able to help many people, and would continue to do so.
“Thank you for welcoming me with such generosity and openness,” he said, “I feel in a big and nice family. In the name of the Haitian people I say thank you to you for all you support and for your solidarity. Poor people in Haiti are still counting on you to help them to help themselves to build their own future. Count on my prayers and friendship in the Lord.”
You can read more about CAFOD’s work in Haiti following the earthquake here.
Thank you to the students and staff of Finchley Catholic High for giving a warm welcome to Fr Kawas, and for their continued support of CAFOD!