|People of Myanmar waiting in line for drinking water after Cyclone Nargis.|
May 29, 2008. When Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar, it left
a death toll of some 100,000 in its wake, not
to mention a shattered infrastructure and a rising tide of
sick, starving, and homeless people in need of the basic
elements of daily survival.
Catholic World Mission immediately responded with
an outreach effort partnered with Caritas Internationalis, the Catholic Church’s
network of charitable and development organizations, and began working with
the Missionaries of the Poor to provide food and medicine
Yet, the outreach to Myanmar is only one of
dozens of projects supported by Catholic World Mission, the fundraising
arm for the Legion of Christ’s charitable and development organizations.
CWM’s broader goal is to transform lives by breaking the
vicious cycles that often keep entire communities locked in poverty.
It works toward this goal with a strategic approach to
a triple problem.
The Three Faces of Poverty
One of the main
insights that CWM brings to bear on its mission is
the recognition that there is more to poverty than physical
need. Poverty has at least three faces—it is not only
physical, but also intellectual and spiritual.
To help alleviate physical
poverty, CWM provides disaster relief and medical care, and helps
create physical infrastructures for destroyed or underdeveloped communities. After Hurricane
Dean swept the Yucatan Peninsula in 2007, CWM sent a
total of $30,000 for relief and reconstruction.
|The aftermath of Hurricane Dean.|
After massive flooding in
Tabasco, Mexico, CWM donated over $100,000 to help dispatch Telemedical
care units throughout the city to provide on the spot
emergency medical care to those in need. (An article on
the Tabasco relief project can be read at this link.)
And finally, CWM sponsors HELPING HANDS Medical Missions, which has
sent medical missionaries on a total of 69 missions, serving
over 105,000 patients worldwide. (A chronicle of a recent HELPING
HAND medical mission to Ghana can be read here.)
respond to intellectual poverty, CWN funds the highly successful Mano Amiga (Helping Hand) schools, which provide a top-quality education
to the poorest children, enabling them to break the glass
ceiling in societies where education is the only way out
of poverty. There are currently 30 Mano Amiga schools worldwide
serving 17,100 children and over 5,000 poor families. Plans are
underway to build new schools in the slums of El
Laurel, Mexico and in Guatemala, as well as significant expansions
And finally, to meet the spiritual needs of the
people, CWM sponsors the Full-time Evangelizers program, which multiplies
the evangelization efforts of missionaries by forming full-time catechists from
among the native townspeople themselves. There are currently 703 Full-time
Evangelizers spread across 59 dioceses throughout North and Latin America.
Flood, the Director of the World Mission staff in the
United States, says that Catholic World Mission is uniquely positioned
to respond in depth to the multi-faceted problem of poverty.
Since the “integral approach” recognizes that there is more to
|Surgery during a mission in the Philippines.|
poverty than a lack of material resources, it focuses on
cultivating the roots from which true development can take place:
the mind and heart of individual people in the context
of their communities.
“This is about the transformation of people’s lives
from poverty to self-sustainability,” he said. “It’s about reaching to
the root of the problem through education, spiritual formation, and
practical means that help them to break the mold and
start a new life. And of course, it’s also about
meeting immediate needs as they come up.”
The list of achievements
for the 2007-2008 school year are a sampling of both
the immediate solutions and long-term investments that CWM provides for
Specific Projects and Results in the Past Year
Pablo Elizondo, LC, President of Catholic World Mission and Prelate
of Cancún-Chetumal in Quintana Roo, Mexico, reported the following results
for the 2007-2008 year.
- HELPING HANDS Medical Missionaries completed 9
missions in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, administering
medicines and health services to over 7,000 men, women, and
- About $8,000,000 worth of medicines and vaccines were procured for
the poor in the Philippines. The worth of medicines and
vaccines gathered for Honduras was $1,200,000. All of these medications
and supplies are in full conformity with the Catholic faith.
new nutrition program was opened in Puebla, Mexico to help
undernourished children and their families.
|Mano Amiga (Helping Hand) schools effectively break the cycle of poverty.|
- A total of 352 Mano Amiga
child sponsorships were secured, bringing the total to over 8,000
- Catholic World Mission’s Endowment Program, which started in June 2007,
currently has over $28,000 invested in the fund, and will
produce at least 2 Mano Amiga child sponsorships each year
- Construction started on St Patrick’s church for members of
the Living Stones Community in El Salvador.
- CWM helped fund the
construction of homes for the poor in the diocese of
Puebla, in conjunction with the University of Anahuac’s students and
MissionYouth missionaries on Christmas break.
- The 2007 Annual Fund Drive goal
of raising $130,000 for child sponsorships in Latin America was
exceeded – the actual total was $149,745.
For more information about
Catholic World Mission and its array of projects, visit the
web site at www.catholicworldmission.org.