The National Catholic Reporter covered a speech last week that CRS President and CEO Carolyn Woo delivered at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering. She spoke of challenges facing CRS in the future funding environment, as well as some innovative ways we’re addressing vexing problems like hunger, infant mortality and rubble removal.
Innovation means things like bringing health care to pregnant women in remote villages in India who have never seen a doctor, Woo said. CRS workers visit those villages and use cellphones to let the women consult on diet and other health issues with a doctor or nurse who might be a full day’s trip away.
Among other examples she cited:
CRS has established seed fairs, where local farmers sell seeds from their own crops to other farmers, in 30 countries. Where farmers had come to rely on donated seeds from abroad after drought or disaster, the seed fairs have helped restore a self-sustaining agriculture locally.
In some African villages, itt has set up “arbor loos” — small community outhouses with a shallow hole strategically placed so when the hole is filled with waste, the outhouse is moved to another site, where the waste is treated with ash from cooking fires and covered over with dirt. A fruit tree is then planted there. A wash station near the loo also promotes better hygiene.
CRS introduced hand-operated rubble crushers into Haiti after its catastrophic 2010 earthquake, helping Haitians turn a major post-quake problem into an asset.
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