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Reconstruction of the Church in Haiti

 
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Current Situation in Haiti After the 2010 Earthquake (January 2014)

Much has been done to rebuild the destroyed Church structures in Haiti, yet there is still so much more to do. In Late 2011, the construction unit of the Partnership for Church Reconstruction ("Proche"), known as the "UOC," became operational in Haiti with two professional staff. Since then, the UOC has received over 100 project applications. Read the latest report on the progress in Haiti.

To date, the Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America (SCLA) of the USCCB has approved over $10 million USD in grants to 15 reconstruction projects. Over 90% of these funds were awarded in 2012. Other funding partners have contributed to these and other projects for a total of nearly 40 projects in various stages of execution.

Projects that the UOC is working on include several major reconstruction projects in the design phase, notably the Sacré-Coeur church in Port-au-Prince. Others are nearing completion, including the newly reconstructed church of St. Francis of Assisi in Grand Goave. 

2010 Earthquake

In recent years, Haiti has suffered much through political instability and natural disasters, notably the January 2010 earthquake that destroyed a significant portion of the capital Port-au-Prince and is estimated to have caused over 200,000 deaths. It also destroyed much of the Catholic infrastructure in the archdiocese of Port-au-Prince and the diocese of Jacmel. The reconstruction costs to repair Catholic buildings were estimated to be in excess of $150 million.

haiti-damaged-bell-tower-150x275haiti-damaged-classroom-1-150x275pxhaiti-damaged-church-1-150x275px
From left: Ruins of the Sacré-Coeur church in Port-au-Prince immediately after the 2010 quake, ruins of St. Vincent de Paul school in Gressier, 2010, and ruins of the Grand Seminary, Port-au-Prince, 2012.

haiti-reconstructed-church-1-montage
Reconstructed St. Francis of Assisi church in
Grand-Goave, October 2012.

Response from the Church

After the 2010 earthquake, the bishops held a special collection for earthquake assistance in every diocese in the United States. U.S. Catholics were extraordinarily generous, giving over $85 million in a single weekend. The funds were used by CRS for humanitarian relief supplying food, water, medical aid, and temporary housing to the victims of the earthquake. Other funds were set aside for longer term needs. The bishops decided that 60% of the special collection funds would go to CRS for its important work and the remaining 40% would be used by the USCCB for reconstruction of the destroyed and damaged Catholic Church infrastructure in Haiti.

After the collection, in late 2010, the USCCB joined with the Catholic Church of Haiti and others, including sister churches from Germany, France, Latin America, and the Vatican, in a new partnership to rebuild the Church in Haiti. Together, these organizations looked for a way to formalize coordination between partners and to manage the reconstruction.

The result is the Partnership for Church Reconstruction ("Proche"). This collaborative body is entrusted with managing the reconstruction program to ensure quality of construction, as well as a rigorous and transparent administration of funds. Other funders, including dioceses and parish twinning programs, are encouraged to use Proche for Church reconstruction projects. Proche is governed by a Joint Steering Committee with representatives from the Haitian Conference of Bishops (CEH), the Haitian conference of the Religious (CHR), the Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, the USCCB, Adveniat of Germany, and the French Conference of Bishops (CEF). Project funding decisions are made within each donor organization.

The goals of this partnership are to ensure that reconstructed or repaired buildings are built to withstand future natural disasters and that reconstruction funds are managed with the highest degree of transparency and accountability, as is always called for in these situations. With this goal in mind, an independent auditing firm recently completed a full audit of financial statements for the projects in Haiti.

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