Caritas a non-government development organisation founded in 1967 by the Bangladesh Catholic Bishop Sammilani Sangstha to conduct integrated social welfare, development and disaster management programmes. Following the devastating cyclone of November 1970, the Caritus was reorganised as the Christian Organisation for Relief and Rehabilitation (CORR), and consequently emerged as a national level organisation on 13 January 1971. It was registered on 13 July 1972 under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. In 1976, CORR was renamed as Caritas Bangladesh and registered under the ngo Affairs Bureau on 22 April 1981.

Caritas headquarters is located in Dhaka. It has seven regional offices in Barisal, Chittagong, Dhaka, Dinajpur, Khulna, Mymensigh and Rajshahi beside an area office in Sylhet. Caritas programmes are focused on human resources development through education and skill development, establishment of social justice and human rights, medicare services to the poor, environment protection and disaster management.

Caritas is now implementing 63 projects of integrated social welfare, disaster management and development in 154 upazials of 46 districts. About 4238 Caritas workers in cooperation with 3724 volunteers are implementing those projects. These include: Development Extension Education Services (DEEDS), Gender and Development Programme (GDP), Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP), Natural Resources Management Project (NRMP) and Integrated Human Development Project (IHDP). Initially 19156 teams have been formed to help improve the condition of 408637 poor men and women of rural areas across the country. Extending vocational training is creating employment opportunities. In 2009, 1570 persons were imparted training on 53 different courses through the Caritas Development Institute (CDI). It also conducts a 3-month long Diploma Course on Social Studies and Development. In 2009, 3213 trainees received training under short and long term programmes of Caritas and got employment in various other organisations. Moreover, 1426 persons were trained up in various disciplines under the Mobile Technical Training Project in 2009. In the same year, 321 persons were also imparted training by the regional technical schools.

Caritas exported jute goods worth 55.9 million taka to 70 companies of 21 countries in 2009 through its Core-the-Jute Works project. Craftsmen numbering 3524 divided into 140 teams are now working at grass root level in 19 districts of Bangladesh under this project. Besides the caritus through this project provided training the members of eleven handcraft exporting organisations of the country during 2010.

Caritas continues its formal and non-formal education programme with a view to building up a developed community comprising efficient human resources. In 2009, 14099 students were enrolled in 192 pre-schools, run by Caritas. Of them 1988 students came out successful. Simultaneously 370 teachers of these schools were imparted training on child education. Under the notre dame college Literacy and Health Care Programme, run by Caritas, 1400 slum children were enrolled in different schools in 2009. About 9594 poor patients were given primary medicare services and over 4511 patients were given treatment in hospitals in 2010. Caritas also provided shelter and educare services to 60 street children.

Caritas undertakes multi-lateral steps to enhance capacity of the disaster-affected people besides providing them financial support and relief goods during catastrophe. In 2009, it constructed 7638 low cost houses for the homeless and re-constructed 30 cyclone shelters. During the same year, Caritas extended professional support to 3382 families and provided financial assistance for work to 20356 affected persons.

At present, Caritas is implementing several programmes in the following sectors: Mother and Child Health, Reproductive Health of Adolescents, Rehabilitation of Drug Addicts and Handicapped, Spiritual Development and HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaign.

Caritas operates through a general body and an executive council. The 31-member general body makes policies, approves annual budget and audit reports, appoints auditors, and elects the 12-member executive council headed by an Executive Director (ED). Three Executive Officers/Directors in Charge of Development, Disaster Management and Administration Wings assist the ED. A Regional Director assisted by three officers, Women Development Officer, Education and Social Welfare Officer and Accounts Officer, heads each regional office of Caritas. At the upazila level, there is a Field Officer in charge of all on-going projects. Assistant Field Officers and union level organisers assist him.

Caritas conducts its activities with the fund, provided by donor agencies and local contribution. Caritas received a total amount of taka 1381 million as foreign donation and taka 433 million as local contribution. The number of Caritas beneficiaries in Bangladesh in 2009 was 2.7 million. [Shamsul Huda]