Caritas after 50 years in India, between the poor and natural disasters

January 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Persecution

CaritasNew Delhi, January 14, 2012: Established in 1962, the pastoral organisation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has provided help and support to victims of some of the worst natural disasters, rebuilding homes, villages and lives for those in need, irrespective of caste, culture and creed.

Caritas India, the pastoral organisation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India founded 50 years ago, has helped thousands of people, including Bangladeshi refuges in the 1970s, flood victims in Orissa in 1971 and 1988, as well as survivors of the Divi 1977 Seema tidal wave in Andhra Pradesh, the 1993 Latur earthquake, the 1996 Kona Seema hurricane in Andhra Pradesh, the 1998 North Indian floods, the 2000 West Bengal floods, the 2001 Gujarat earth quake and the 2004 tsunami.

To mark this anniversary, Caritas India has planned 15 regional workshops and a national celebration in New Delhi on 20-21 January. It will also release two books, Contribution of the Catholic Church in the Social Development of the country and Caritas India’s contribution over the past 50 years, to highlight the occasion.

Established in 1962, Caritas India has come a long way in the field of social development and empowerment. “Over 50 long years, it has journeyed alongside the oppressed through trials and hardships, influencing them to intensify their struggle towards empowerment with fervour and determined,” said Susan Thomas, an official with Caritas India.

Today, it has 164 diocesan social service societies and over 300 partner NGOs, reaching out to all people, irrespective of caste, culture and creed.

In the aftermath of Latur earthquake of September 1993, Caritas India built eight villages, complete with infrastructure, water, sanitation facilities, primary schools, hostel for tribal children, and community centres spending more than 250 million rupees, plus 50 million rupees donated by the government of Maharashtra.

In Andhra Pradesh, after the 1996 hurricane, Caritas built 1,000 safe houses for poor families.

In Orissa, it built 1,674 houses and economically helped 12,130 cyclone-affected families.

In Gujarat, the organisation provided aid to 42,435 families in 275 villages and built 3,100 houses in 14 villages with basic amenities.

With the 2004 tsunami, Caritas India probably faced its greatest challenge. On that occasion, it supported 100,000 families with food assistance, providing shelter to 14,000 families.

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