TORONTO (CCN) — In the wake of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, diabetes activist Serge Langlois was trying to get life-saving insulin, syringes and other medications into the Caribbean nation.
More than 200,000 Haitians were dead. The country experienced over 50 aftershocks. As many as 30,000 buildings had collapsed or were too dangerous to enter. Haiti’s public service was in disarray.
Langlois, who had for years been president and CEO of Diabetes Québec and involved with United Nations campaigns to extend diabetes prevention and treatment in poor countries, discovered there was one organization that could help.
“Without Development and Peace, we were lost,” Langlois said.
Working with Development and Peace allowed Langlois and his diabetes campaigners to deliver the goods — “make sure it was going to the right place, in the right hands, used in the proper way,” he said.
On Feb. 1, Langlois became the new executive director of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.
“I have cherished the values and the vision of this organization for a long time,” said Langlois. “I share those values. They are dear to my heart.”
Langlois takes over an organization with more than 10,000 members from coast to coast, but struggling to find funds. In 2010-11, Development and Peace raised $8.9 million through the annual Share Lent campaign. In 2014-15 it was down to $8.6 million. Other fundraising activities netted $3.7 million in 2010-11. In 2014-15 it was $3.3 million.
Along with a sudden withdrawal of $30 million in Government of Canada funding in 2012, Development and Peace’s traditional development programming has shrunk from 35 countries to 22.
Last June David Leduc left the executive director post after less than a year.
On the other side of the ledger, Development and Peace’s closer partnership with Caritas Internationalis, combined with shifts in Canadian government policy, have put Development and Peace squarely in the emergency humanitarian response business.
Humanitarian programming now accounts for over $11 million in revenues and humanitarian spending out-ranks development spending.
Langlois’s priority as he takes over is to make sure Development and Peace is better known.
“I want Canadians of all regions, of all origins, of all beliefs to get to know our great organization and the great work Development and Peace is doing throughout the world and in Canada,” he said. “You talk about the financial issue, that is something that goes with it.”
Pope Paul VI’s manifesto from the encyclical Populorum Progressio, that “development is the new name for peace,” is as valid today as it was 50 years ago when Development and Peace was founded, Langlois said.
“Charity is a fundamental value of the Catholic religion. It’s also a fundamental value of any human being,” he said. “Charity can have many definitions.”
Founded in 1967, the organization is celebrating a half-century this year.