From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

CRS gathering assistance for Central American earthquake victims

the Inland Register

(From the Aug. 23, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the development and emergency aid agency of the Catholic community, began assessing the needs of the people the very afternoon that the first of two major earthquakes struck in El Salvador early this year.

Casualties totaled 1,240 dead and over 8,000 injured. The earthquake of Jan. 13, 2001, destroyed or severely damaged 85,000 — 15 percent — of the country’s homes, leaving several hundred thousand homeless. After the second earthquake on Feb. 13, the total number left homeless was 1.5 million, close to 25 percent of the total population. Damage to the infrastructure is massive and the psychological toll has been very high as well.

In the first three months after the first earthquake, Catholic communities across the United States donated nearly $6.2 million to CRS to assist the most vulnerable victims. These cash donations are being combined with food and relief materials as well as additional cash from multinational and U.S. government and private, non-profit programs. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., a CRS board member, visited El Salvador with a message for the country: “We are with you now and always in faith and hope.”

The bulk of the response provides assistance in the areas of health, housing reconstruction, support for community organization and future disaster prevention. The remaining balance is targeted to activities that benefit the most vulnerable communities — more specifically, programs that ensure full and active community participation in the reconstruction and relief efforts.

“We cannot construct houses without help,” said Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador.

Additional cash is being sought to expand micro-credit programs in El Salvador to help people address their housing and income needs. Contributions can be made through the CRS web site or mailed to Catholic Relief Services in care of Catholic Charities, P.O. Box 1453, Spokane, WA 99210-1453.

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