Thursday, April 28, 2005

CRS in Darfur

To date, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has pledged an initial $6 million to the crisis for relief efforts in Sudan and Chad. CRS is providing humanitarian relief in the form of shelter, water, sanitation, refugee camp management, education and food. CRS works in West Darfur in its capitol of El Geneina, and north of El Geneina along the border with Chad in the "Kulbus corridor," including the Sirba, Selea, and Kondobe areas. Across the border in eastern Chad, CRS is working with its local partner, Secadev, in managing refugee camps in Kounoungou and Touloum.

Recent CRS Darfur relief efforts include:

Shelter and Family Kits
CRS distributed shelter materials and family kits to roughly 2,700 families in February. Since beginning its relief efforts in Darfur, CRS has reached tens of thousands of people, often providing their first package of relief supplies since fleeing their homes. Family kits include essential hygiene and shelter materials, such as blankets, soap, water cans, sanitary napkins for women, tubs and cooking utensils.

Water and Sanitation
Clean water is essential to survival. CRS is building sources (wells and pumps) that enable access to clean water in various camps, constructing family-style latrines for camps and schools, and facilitating hygiene training.

CRS works closely with the World Food Programme in facilitating distributions of emergency food. CRS is currently identifying and registering tens of thousands of people for receiving food rations at 22 distribution sites in the West Darfur region in March. Because people have missed the harvest season for two straight years, there is a growing dependence on food aid.

CRS is rebuilding and rehabilitating schools, providing education materials, supporting teachers with salaries and training, and constructing latrines on school campuses. CRS and its partners have already built 48 schools, run by more than 100 teachers and volunteers, and benefiting more than 4,000 primary school children. In the coming months, CRS plans to build five schools in El Geniena, provide 19 schools with education materials in the Kulbus locality, support teachers in 24 schools with incentives and learning materials, as well as build water and sanitation facilities. This support will reach as many as 15,000 children.

U.S. Advocacy and Community Awareness
In U.S. and international political arenas, CRS provides testimony, builds awareness, and shares its field expertise to encourage government leaders to more fully address the crisis in Darfur. CRS seeks to generate greater understanding of the crisis with communities across the U.S. through panels, campus and diocesan outreach, speakers' tours, media outlets and CRS' legislative advocacy network.

So why do I mention this? The Troglodyte is a member of the Coalition for Darfur. At its launch the Coalition was directing those who wanted to make a donation to help address the humanitarian crisis to Save the Children. Save the Children does a tremendous amount of good work. However, like so many NGOs, it distributes and promotes the use of condoms to limit the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Despite the good intentions, this practice serves what John Paul the Great called the "pulverization of the fundamental uniqueness of each human person" by preventing the self-giving in human sexual love, thereby denying it as an icon of the inner life of God as the Holy Trinity. Therefore, it becomes problematic for faithful Catholics and others who recognize this truth to provide financial support that may be directed for such work.

I am reminding/notifying you that there are many organizations, like CRS, who do minister to those in crisis and refuse to deny the fully authentic human nature of those they serve. Since its launch, the Coalition blog has added a link to give financial support CRS, as now have I. If you have not done so already, please consider making a donation now to the CRS Sudan Emergency Fund.

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