Fiscally responsible, ethically and morally sound group! I love this group because I feel like it helps me live my faith. Christ said "What you do for the least of your brothers, you do for me." This is a way to help people living in abject poverty. I can't possibly travel to these places on my own and yet I know they need help and CRS is there. They help not only in emergencies and disasters but are also engaged in trying to create long term change. Their best programs are the ones that help build infrastructure like digging wells and help people become economically independent. Whether they are digging wells, building schools or medical clinics, empowering women, or fostering economic development, CRS does a great job!
In the late 90's I was working in Tanzania desperately trying to address a rapidly emerging situation with a growing HIV pandemic. Overwhelmed with demand for services, I was at the point of almost giving up. CRS became a true partner. They provided not only technical expertise, but administrative and management expertise to help a local clinic grow and expand. Quite honestly, they also did a lot of hand holding as well. Without any question, Catholic Relief Services is the finest international development partner I've ever worked with. Within all of the solid supportive guidance and technical expertise to grow and expand resulting in quality services for people affected by HIV, there was always the presence of faith and true holistic care.
I worked for CRS for over ten years. While I worked at the headquarters in Baltimore, my work occasionally gave me the opportunity to travel overseas for meetings and training sessions. Before and after those meetings, I had the opportunity to visit programs in the field and learn how CRS does its work. Coming out of the corporate sector, I didn't have much knowledge of international relief and development work, so I learned a lot. And the more I learned, the more I came to appreciate how thoughtful CRS is about the way it helps people and communities living in poverty or recovering from natural disasters.
CRS doesn't just swoop in and fix problems. They start by listening to the local communities, to find out what's important to them. And they work hard to involve those communities in developing solutions to the problems they're facing, because CRS recognizes that if the people affected by a program don't believe in it, it will never work. In addition, CRS works with local partners to build their capacity to design, implement and manage programs, so that the communities become more resilient over time, and less reliant on outside resources to overcome challenges. CRS is one of the best organizations helping people in need overseas.
When I was a Peace Corps Vounteer in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, I was very impressed by the quality work this organiztion did on the ground there. Because it was illegal to proseltyze, there were no missionary groups in this extremely poor country; but CRS was certainly there, helping those in need.
Catholic Relief Services must take a hard look at what it does with its partners in developing countries. While we must appreciate the systems and the work that goes into it, they have no meaning. Ask if any partner has been terminated due to non-performance!
CRS values its partnerships (at least on paper and by the designations of its top-management) but goes on funding partners who 1) have no interest in the development and poverty alleviation work and 2) who have a history of non-performance.
Its systems are top class but when there is a rot in its core values with partners who anyway know that they can manipulate according to their selfish needs, these systems are not worth the time that is required to keep them moving.
CRS makes a special effort to involve college students and young adults in its international development work. It does not do this in a traditional manner of providing service trips but rather educates young adults about the lives of people in developing countries and about the systemic causes of issues indigenous people face. CRS helps young Americans gain in-depth knowledge about developing countries and respect for what people on the ground are doing to improve their lives. CRS involves young Americans through webinars, media-assisted dialogue, social media, and other advanced means. They have made a real commitment to young Americans, not for fund-raising purposes, but as an investment in long-term understanding.
First, I am Indian.
Second, I teach Community Development with a Water and Sanitation emphasis at the University level.
Finally, on at least six occasions over many years, I have worked as a consultant with other both national and international organizations hand-in-glove with CRS in the field and in the mix of NGO planning at a a senior management level. I am based in Kolkata and focus mainly in the Eastern Region, including essentially, West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Assam.
In summary, CRS has an outstanding reputation in my field and in this geographic region. And, my sources tell me, that reputation is reflected throughout India.
My experience has been that CRS programming in India is carried out and managed mainly by its highly skilled Indian staff. In my multiple exposures, I have found CRS people and programs to be effective, efficient, transparent and accountable. All programming involves local partners. It develops at and responds to the grassroots--to those most in need without regard to creed, color or caste.
The CRS network is countrywide and subject to audit on many levels including by the GOI and USAID, as well as its own extensive internal and partners' internal auditing functions.
In Indian disaster-management circles, CRS is well-known and highly repected countrywide for its responsiveness to its grassroots partners during emergencies. One key to that is the fact that CRS generally works with those same partners providing ongoing support for programming in such areas as health, water and sanitation, education, agriculture, infrastructure strengthening and village-level savings and banking cooperatives. As first-responders in an emergency, CRS and its partners are already successfully functional and are ALREADY THERE.
My history of involvement has led me to give the highest rating to CRS in India.
In 2003, I was selected by Catholic Relief Services to participate in their Frontiers of Justice program. Each year CRS takes 6 educators to a country where CRS serves in order to better educate them on the work of CRS. I traveled to India, where I met with the people who are served by CRS. There were so many wonderful experiences that I cannot share them all, but I was particularly moved by the work CRS and its partners were doing to prevent child labor and provide education to children who would otherwise be working in the fields. I visited a preschool that was built by previously warring tribes, so that their children would be safe. This project brought opportunity for the children and peace between the communities.
CRS depends on the kind of relationship building that Frontiers of Justice represents to spread the word of their work.
Each year CRS consistently provides relief and development in countries all over the world and insures that 95 cents of every dollar donated goes directly into their services, not into their advertising!
Catholic Relief Services serves communities regardless of race, creed, gender or nationality. Their development work helps people out of the grinding poverty of their daily lives and opens up real opportunity for a life lived with dignity. I urge you to learn as much as possible about this wonderful organization!
Review from Guidestar
I can't think of another organizatin who does such great work consistently, professionally and creatively. I had the opportunity first hand to be with CRS on a trip for youth ministers to the HOly land. It was there I saw the way CRS works. People from the local areas run the agencies who serve the poor, hungry, marginalized and those affected by war and human greed. To quietly serve and empower the local people is a great gift. It is really how Jesus did things.
CRS continues to serve but also to educate in creative and effective and collaborative ways. No one does social justice better!!
Review from Guidestar
Catholic Relief Services has been involved in Haiti since 1954. It would be useful to find out what they have accomplished of on-going benefit that has not made the problems there worse. Seemingly, the long-standing efforts of such organizations in Haiti have accomplished little in terms of resiliency, self-sufficiency, and poverty alleviation. Of course, while a single organization cannot be expected to put much of a dent in long-term systemic problems, one hopes that the various aid organizations have been working together toward a common good purpose, have been evaluating their efforts, have adjusted their programs to meet local long term needs, and have checked their religious ideology at the door, in the interests of helping people over the long run.