Photo by Karen Kasmauski for CRS
We are Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States.
Founded in 1943, we are an organization of 5,000, working in nearly 100 countries and reaching more than 100 million of the world's poorest people each year with innovative solutions to tough problems like poverty, hunger, drought, disease and emergencies.
We work in close partnership with the Catholic Church around the world and local, national and international organizations that share our focus on finding ways to meet immediate needs while empowering communities for the long term.
We also benefit from the support of thousands of donors who trust us to use their contributions efficiently and effectively, and we do: 94% of our expenditures go directly to programs that benefit the poor overseas.
37% of our programming focuses on emergency relief. Once we meet immediate needs for food, water and shelter, we transition to rebuilding and reconstruction, supporting the survivors of natural disasters and chronic emergencies in reclaiming their lives.
Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.
Hunger is the easiest disease to cure. Yet more than 1 billion people—one-seventh of the people on earth—suffer from it.
Enough food is produced to feed everyone, but many go hungry because they lack the money to buy it or the land to grow it.
We're changing that landscape with 164 sustainable agricultural projects in 34 countries, using innovative approaches that combine health care, literacy and microfinance with proven agricultural practices.
For 26 million people, hunger is already a thing of the past.
Photo by CRS staff
Clean Water Counts
All around the world, women and children spend hours each day walking to the nearest water source, carrying home jugs that weigh as much as 20, 30 or even 40 pounds.
Access to fresh, clean water changes lives. That's why we have water programs in 40 countries, and we're making a difference.
In East Africa, where a terrible drought sent millions from their homes in search of food and water, some farmers in Ethiopia stayed home. Their thriving crops and livestock needed tending.
Long before the drought struck, we built more than 700 water sources that provide clean water to 2.1 million people there. For us, World Water Day is every day.
More than 34 million people worldwide are living with HIV, almost 70 percent of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Effective medications are so expensive that only 7 out of every 100 people can afford them.
In 2003, we set out to get treatment to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Our AIDSRelief program provided high-quality care, support and treatment to 700,000 people, while strengthening local health care institutions.
This is just one of CRS' 280 HIV and AIDS projects taking new approaches to meeting the needs of 8 million people in 62 countries.
Photo by David Snyder/CRS
Here at home, we carry out the social mission of the Church with 8.5 million Catholics in 14,337 parishes, dioceses and schools through programs such as CRS Rice Bowl, CRS Fair Trade, the Helping Hands volunteer program, advocacy initiatives, and programs for university students and young people.
In 2012, CRS Rice Bowl sent out 3.9 million cardboard rice bowls to help 13,000 parishes, schools and families keep poor people around the world in their prayers during Lent. In 2011, CRS activities inspired 23,000 grassroots actions on behalf of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.
Photo by Karen Kasmauski for CRS
Mother and Child Health Counts
Deaths during childbirth in the developing world are tragically common. People in poor, rural communities—far away from the nearest health center—often lack prenatal services and access to health education. Getting husbands involved in maternal health is key to a healthy mother and baby, and is a central aim in CRS' Child Survival programs.
Thanks to a CRS program in Nicaragua, the number of women delivering their babies in hospitals, rather than at home, has increased 60 percent in the CRS project area since 2008. And the number of prenatal visits increased from 40 percent to more than 70 percent in some of the most remote communities. The couples go for prenatal care together and jointly make decisions about the pregnancy and delivery. They make arrangements to stay at a maternity house for the birth of the child and learn how to care for the baby together.
CRS also plans to use inexpensive mobile phones to help families go to appointments, share information and receive better care.
At Catholic Relief Services we promote chastity before marriage and faithfulness in marriage as embraced by the Church. Our Faithful House program operates in 11 countries in Africa, reaching some 27,000 people with training and counseling on faithfulness, good communication and mutual support between couples. Abstinence and fidelity are the only true way to tackle the AIDS pandemic and to build stable families and communities.
Natural Family Planning Counts
In East Timor, CRS' natural family planning program gives couples the option of spacing their children's births, preventing mothers from dying in labor and babies from dying soon after they are born. Collaborating with Carmelite sisters and other Catholic groups has enabled CRS to reach people in remote, isolated areas where there are few hospitals or health centers. Recently, on television, the country's minister of health noted that, because the program is supported by the Church, it has a better chance of success.
Photo by Laura Sheahen/CRS