Who we are
Caritas Asia is one of the seven Regional Offices under the Confederation of Caritas Internationalis (CI). Its establishment came about when the Asian members of the confederation decided to establish a regional office in Asia, during the General Assembly of CI in 1999 in Rome. With the endorsement and approval of the CI General Assembly on the same year, Caritas Asia was subsequently constituted as the regional office of the CI confederation in Asia. Since then, CA has been serving as the regional coordinating office of all the member organizations operating in countries and territories in the Asian continent.
Where we are in Asia
“Individuals who care for those in need must first be professionally competent: they should properly be trained in what to do and how to do it, and committed to continuing care”
[Pope Benedict XVI]
Following the success of the regional introductory webinars on the fifth Management Standard on Safeguarding held in March 2021, Caritas Internationalis has proceeded to the next step of the rollout phase, which included the various virtual trainings for coordinators and assessors in all the seven regions.
In Asia region, the training was successfully organized in two batches, the first of which was conducted on 30 April 2021 and the second was held on 6 May 2021. Both batches, which were jointly facilitated by Caritas Asia and Caritas Internationalis, have attracted a total of 34 participants from 22 Caritas Member Organizations (MOs) in Asia, as well as from some Caritas global partners present in Asia.
The main objective of the training is to let the CIMS coordinators and assessors in Asia be familiar with the CIMS assessment mechanisms, the revised tools, and the new Management Standard on Safeguarding. The learning process is not limited only to the 3-hour training session, but all participants were also asked to do individual preparation prior to the training. Post-training follow up is also set up as an integral part of the process, which includes dialogue with and support from the Regional Secretariat and the CI General Secretariat, to conduct the assessment process and strengthen safeguarding mechanisms in each MO.
During the virtual training,. Benedict D’Rozario, Caritas Asia President, warmly welcomed all the participants and provided them a general overview of the development of CIMS through the years, starting from its early stages in 2012, and leading up to to the inclusion of Safeguarding as a fifth standard. He emphasized on the importance of the CIMS in sustaining Caritas organizations and ensuring that quality and professional services, with a formation of the heart, are appropriately provided to the community. Dr. Benedict also added that CIMS puts the profiles of each MO at a high pedestal, while also maintaining the dimension of Caritas as the Church’s concrete expression of its work of charity.
Ms. Moira Monacelli, the Head of CI Institutional Development and Capacity Strengthening (IDCS) Unit, explained that Safeguarding is grounded in the values and principles that guide Caritas mission, including Human Dignity, Sacredness of Life, and Preferential Option for the Poor. She also added that CI is committed to mainstream safeguarding across the Confederation to ensure all MOs have adequate policies, systems and procedure in place. This training is one of the ways to contribute to the prevention of abuses and/or address them appropriately whenever they occur.
Ms. Annamaria Vrzáčková, the CIMS Program Manager, facilitated the training session and started with raising some warm-up questions to the participants related to CIMS and its newly introduced Safeguarding standard. After getting some responses to her questions, she invited the participants to try the new standard by analyzing some case studies that are inspired by real situations experienced by some MOs. She reminded the participants that CIMS is not merely about getting the highest scores in the matrix to pass the compliance requirement, or to get acknowledgement from CI, but it is really about how each MOs is properly dealing with cases, and ensuring that safeguarding policies and procedures are in place.
Both internal and external assessors should always remember that CIMS assessment is a process where all parties involved are journeying together to capture the current situation of the organizations and collectively formulate the plan to improve it. It is crucial to ensure involvement of all elements within the organization and apply participatory process in responding to all questions in the input form.
Through a brief sharing, participants acknowledged the importance of conducting the self-assessment right away and without having to wait until the organization has all the policies and regulations.
At the conclusion of the training, Mr. Zar Gomez, CA Regional Coordinator, encouraged participants to start with the self-assessment/process in their respective organizations and consult Caritas Asia and Caritas Internationalis of the progress.
“We need to recognize with humility and courage that we stand face to face with evil, which strikes most violently against the most vulnerable. For this reason, the Church has now become increasingly aware of the need to curb the cases of abuse by disciplinary measures and civil and canonical processes.” (Pope Francis)
Since 2019, Caritas Internationalis has strengthened its work to mainstream safeguarding across the confederation as part of Caritas mission to protect and promote the dignity of every person. This effort finally resulted to the integration of Safeguarding as the fifth standard in the Caritas Internationalis Management Standard (CIMS) in December 2020, which marks Caritas commitment to assure integrity, protection and safeguarding at every level of the Confederation.
The fifth standard of the CI Management Standard has been rolled out to all the member organizations (MOs) in 2021, through a series of webinars organized by Caritas Internationalis in collaboration with the seven regional secretariats. The first of the webinars was held on 10 February 2021, wherein participants from the seven regions, including the regional secretariats and theregional focal persons on safeguarding took part in the Introductory Webinar on the 5th CIMS on Safeguarding.
Following the first introductory webinar and in pursuit of further rolling out the new management standards to all the MOs in Asia, Caritas Asia held its own regional introductory webinar on the same topic on 17 March 2021.. The webinar attracted a total of 88 participants coming from the 24 member organizations in Asia and one emerging member. The aim of the webinar was mainly to raise awareness on the importance of safeguarding and on the confederation mechanism to assess compliance of each MO with the safeguarding requirements.
In his message, Dr. Benedict D’Rozario, Caritas Asia President mentioned that the additional fifth standard on Safeguarding has made CIMS becoming a more comprehensive tool. He also extended his hope that the webinar will help the MOs in Asia to adopt the new standard to MOs’ respective organizational and cultural context in order to continue to render quality services.
At the webinar, Mr. Ranjon Francis Rozario, Executive Director of Caritas Bangladesh and current Chair of the Asia Regional IDCS Committee, presented the importance of CIMS and Safeguarding as a pillar of the Caritas Confederation and Church’s mission. His presentation was followed by the intorcudtory session of Ms. Moria Monacelli, the Head of IDCS Unit of Caritas Internationalis, who explained the roll-out phase of the revised CIMS and Safeguarding standard. The detailed changes in CIMS and the content of Safeguarding standard were presented by Ms. Annamaria Vrzáčková, CIMS Program Manager, and Ms. Irene Broz, Acting Safeguarding Focal Point of CI respectively.
Caritas, as part of Catholic church, is not immune to cases of abuse. In his pastoral reflection, Msgr. Pierre Cibambo, the Ecclesiastical Assistant of Caritas Internationalis, stated that it would be irresponsible to pretend that Caritas is not included in any kind of inhumane phenomenon. The presence of the fifth management standard on Safeguarding would enable each member organization to put in place the necessary tools and mechanism to prevent abuse at every level of the organization. In addition, the integration of Safeguarding into CIMS demonstrates Caritas effort to be recognised in a verifiable way as a safe organization for every person, particularly children and vulnerable adults.
The webinar participants are able to learn more about the revised CIMS and the fifth standard on Safeguarding in Baobab through the interactive e-learning platform in Baobab.
Asia is home to 25 Caritas Member Organizations (MOs) that consistently work with vulnerable communities in preparing them to be ready and resilient when disasters strike. The MOs in the region also relentlessly work on the reduction of future risks through various programs at the parish, diocesan, national and regional levels. In their years of experience in program implementation and emergency response in the region, the MOs believe that enhancing local leadership and organizational capacity is among the crucial steps in disaster preparedness and risk reduction.
Caritas Asia, in cooperation with Caritas Austria, launched a regional capacity building project called Strengthening Humanitarian Partnership and Exchanges in Asia (SHAPE), which aims to contribute to the strengthening of the organisational and technical competencies and capacities of Caritas organisations and their networks in Asia, in order to increase effectiveness and efficiency in working for community resilience and preventing human, economic, or environmental losses during disasters through localization and enhancing local volunteering.
The SHAPE Project is a continuation and extension of the EU funded Capacity Building project known as PEACH (Europe-Asia Partnership for Building Capacities on Humanitarian Action), which was implemented by C. Asia and C. Austria with 10 Caritas partners from Europe and Asia, including the national Caritas organizations of Bangladesh, Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania.
Over four years, all PEACH partners were actively involved in the cooperation to increase capacities in Humanitarian Aid and Volunteer Management. This came in the form of capacity building activities on Humanitarian Standards and Volunteer Management, as well as in the implementation and institutionalization of new tools and approaches.
As an off-shoot of the PEACH program, Caritas Asia, together with Caritas Austria, organized a virtual kick off meeting of the SHAPE Project on February 15, 2021 at 3-5 pm Thailand Standard Time. The virtual launching was attended by 25 participants from 17 MOs in Asia, including the emerging Caritas member organizations in Turkmenistan. The launch also included participants from Caritas Romania. The sessions were facilitated jointly by Caritas Asia, Caritas Austria, and Caritas Romania. The event utilized online collaboration platforms to capture real time inputs from the participants on priority topics for the community of practice. The platforms were also used to determine the interest of participants in joining any of the four project working groups and the sole committee under the SHAPE project, including the Online Platform Working Group, the RESUM Working Group, the Community of Practice Working Group, the MEAL Working Group and the Project Committee.
On 29 January 2021, Caritas Asia held its extraordinary meeting of the Regional Conference, which was done virtually, in lieu of the usual face-to-face meeting of the Caritas Member Organisations (MOs) and emerging Caritas organisations in Asia. Though the meeting was not a substitute to the annual Regional Conference, Caritas Asia decided to hold it, as the region needed to have a platform for everyone to get updates of one another, especially after more than a year of not being able to physically meet, due to COVID-19 restrictions. The region also needed to look into the way forward for the Caritas family in Asia, underpinning its existing responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and following-up on the region’s localisation and safeguarding plans, as well as on the extended Regional Strategic Plan 2017-2020.
Out of the 25 MOs in Asia, a total of 23 Caritas MOs took part in the virtual meeting, which was held via Zoom Meetings from 2:00 o’clock to 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon, Thailand Standard Time. Two emerging Caritas organisations in the region, as well as, Caritas Internationalis also joined the meeting. The participating organisations were represented by the national presidents/chairpersons, directors, board members, and/or program officers. There were 47 registrants for the meeting, 44 of whom were able to actually join the meeting.
The Regional President of Caritas Asia, Dr. Benedict Alo D’Rozario, chaired the entire duration of the virtual meeting. He officially called the meeting to order, by welcoming and thanking the participants for their presence. He also presented the agenda, which were accepted and approved by the participating organisations. In his opening message, Dr. Benedict mentioned that a virtual meeting is an opportunity with some limitations, but he believes that it would bring a joyful learning experience and encouragement for participants to take back food for thoughts and inspiration to Caritas services.
At the introductory session, Archbishop Isao Kikuchi, SVD, the president of Caritas Japan and former president of Caritas Asia, led the opening prayer, while Mr. Zar Gomez, the Regional Coordinator, made the acknowledgment and presentation of all the participants.
For the session on sharing the COVID-19 situations and responses of Caritas MOs in the region, each MO was requested to reflect on four pre-arranged guide questions and send their responses beforehand to their respective sub-regional representatives/reporters.
The four guide questions consisted of the following:
- What is the general impact of COVID-19 in your country?
- How has the pandemic affected your organization and how is it coping with the challenges/difficulties brought about by COVID-19? If any, please share any laudable initiatives that your organisation has done, or is still doing, in response to COVID-19.
- How has your organization engaged in localization, especially in your response to COVID-19 and/or in your other programs and services?
- How do you think should our Caritas family in Asia, as a region, address the impacts, or challenges of COVID-19? Please suggest specific action points or key focuses that our region should prioritise in moving forward.
The consolidated responses of the MOs were then presented in the meeting by the following sub-regional reporters:
- Bishop Giorgio Marengo of Caritas Mongolia for Central Asia
- Mabel Bombeo of Caritas Taiwan for East Asia
- Lalit Tudu of Caritas Nepal for South Asia
- Tony Labiao of Caritas Philippines for Southeast Asia
As a way forward to the Caritas family in Asia, all the four sub-regions commonly recommended to have a regular platform for sharing experiences and good practices, in order to learn from one another’s initiatives. Common advocacy works, as well as, developing a program and raising funds on COVID-19, were also suggested by at least two sub-regions. Other specific suggestions were on looking into how health program can be developed regionally and ensuring that COVID-19 vaccines are accessible to all, especially the poor. One sub-region has particularly underscored the opportunity for Caritas to respond to the invitation of Pope Francis to do charity with a human face and promote the culture of care and attention.
After the sub-regional presentations, Mr. Aloysius John, the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis (CI), provided some updates about the General Secretariat and the Caritas Confederation. He challenged the region into how to look into four emerging realities of Caritas in the midst of the pandemic, namely, 1. Change of paradigm, 2. Systemic changes, 3. A new way of thinking, and 4. New partnership. Specifically, he encouraged the region to reflect well on the following questions:
- How to be creative, as stewards, in the work of charity and solidarity to address the issue of social justice?
- How to define the new paradigm of fraternal cooperation?
- How are we going to seize the opportunity to impulse this new beginning, to give a new meaning to this new beginning?
- How are we going to get into communion with the poor in order to liberate them from complexes of poverty in the context of COVID-19?
The CI updates were then succeeded by the report of the Regional Coordinator about Caritas Asia’s activities and financial status in 2020, as well as the regional activity plans for the first six months of 2021. The new Asia regional focal person for localisation and safeguarding, Dr. Richard Win Tun Kyi, provided a brief presentation of his tasks and responsibilities for the region, and Mr. Ari Nugroho, the regional program officer of Caritas Asia presented a brief overview of the new SHAPE (Strengthening Humanitarian Partnership and Exchanges in Asia Region) program of Caritas Asia.
The last part of the meeting was the Open Forum, wherein the participants had a chance to share their comments, views, recommendations, or reactions to the preceding reports and presentations. The meeting concluded with a word of thanks from the Regional President and a closing prayer, led by Sr. Emma Lee, the Executive Director of Caritas Taiwan.
Dear Caritas Member Organizations in Asia,
In celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, we at Caritas Asia are sending you our warmest greetings of love, peace, and good health this Christmas Season!
We are all aware that the year 2020 has been filled with a lot of challenges for all of us, mostly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is hard to ignore our brothers and sisters who have lost a loved one, a job, or have had other struggles brought about by the pandemic. We all have to endure the loss of lives, the unprecedented lockdowns and restrictions, the many down times and despairs, and the countless other struggles during this difficult time. But amidst all these difficulties, our love, faith, hope, peace, joy, and goodwill are never lost. We remain committed in our mission of bringing and living out the Gospel to our beloved brothers and sisters not just in Asia, but in the rest of the world.
Our face-to-face interaction may not have been in abundance this year, yet we managed to reach out to our communities, friends, colleagues and loved ones, even if some of our initiatives were virtual. We are all sharing the experience and trying our best to respond appropriately to this health crisis. The pandemic, though highly destructive and deadly, has brought us all together in responding as one human family, living in one common home.
And so, in this Christmas Season, we are happy to share with you a holiday cheer and a few updates from our region that would help lift our spirits up during these unprecedented times. We are sharing with you herewith a summary of some of Caritas Asia’s activities and events from January to December 2020, so as to give you a glimpse of how our year 2020 has been, amidst the onslaught of the pandemic (please see attached file). You may recall that we have earlier announced the extension, until next year, of our Regional Strategic Plan, which was supposed to end this year, as most of our operational plan for this year had either been cancelled or postponed. Hence, most of the face-to-face regional events we have planned for this year did not take place, but we also managed to conduct online events, or attend to other virtual activities organized by others. You would see these in the attached file.
We are also happy to inform you that our Regional Commission has decided to hold a special Virtual Meeting of our Regional Conference on the third, or last week of January 2021, in order that we may be able to catch up with all our 25 Member Organizations and emerging Caritas organizations in Asia. Since we could not hold our annual Caritas Asia Regional Conference this year, our Regional Commission thought it best to do a 3-hour meeting instead, so as to provide us a good venue to hear and get updates from everyone. Please watch out for further details of this planned meeting that we will share with you in the coming days. We also kindly ask you to block your calendar, once we announce the final date of the Virtual Special Meeting of the Regional Conference. Our expected participants for this important event are the national Caritas Presidents/Chairpersons and National Directors from all our 25 Caritas Member Organizations in Asia, as well as from the emerging Caritas organizations in our region.
Kindly note that our Regional Commission has also decided to postpone our annual Regional Partners’ Forum this year and has planned to hold it instead, when it would already be possible for us to have a face-to-face meeting. We will keep you posted on the development of this event, and rest assured that as soon as it becomes possible to meet you all again in person, we will finalize the resumption of our annual Regional Partners’ Conference.
Please also note that starting on 21 December 2020 until 8 January 2021, we at Caritas Asia will have our Christmas and New Year break, and so, our office will be closed during this period. But should there be any urgent or important matter you wish to relay to us within this holiday season, please feel free to email us. We will try our best to respond to any important matter, even when we are on holiday.
We wish you all happiness and good health this Christmas and may you all have a safe and peaceful New Year!
With love from your Caritas Asia Regional Secretariat,
|Dr. Benedict “Alo” D’Rozario
|Mr. Zar Gomez
|Mr. Ari Nugroho
Regional Program Officer
|Ms. Wanphen “Toi” Khemanucheta
|Mr. Ratha “Sam” Lay
|Mr. Sayumphoo “Ki” Sajja
|Ms. Suwannee “Tualek” Kaewchanda
“THOUGHTS AND SPIRIT CAN GO FAR WITH THE CREATIVITY OF LOVE”
An exchange of stories and experiences of Caritas COVID-19 Response in Asia Region
Caritas Asia, in collaboration with Caritas Internationalis, hosted a regional webinar on Caritas COVID-19 Response in Asia on August 19th, 2020 at 3 – 5 pm (Thailand Time). The webinar was organized to acknowledge great works done by Caritas member organizations in Asia in this challenging time by providing a space for sharing of best practices and experiences on COVID-19 humanitarian response. Moreover, the webinar is organized to celebrate the World Humanitarian Day (celebrated each year on August 19th) and is intended to deepen the ongoing discussion of localization in Caritas Asia.
Dr. Richard Win Tun Kyi of Caritas Myanmar, as the webinar moderator, welcomed 44 participants out of 66 registrants who represented Asian Member Organizations, Caritas Internationalis, MONA and Africa Regional Secretariats and Caritas Global Partners in the meeting.
His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis, opened the webinar by inviting the meeting participants to reflect on Caritas work in responding to the pandemic that it is not merely a task or a function but it is how Caritas members are living out of spirituality. His Eminence also reminded us to keep the human face alive in this crisis because human beings are at stake in this pandemic time.
Caritas Internationalis Secretary General, Mr. Aloysius John, shared Pope Francis’ message that Chuch should be present as a symbol of hope, care and attention to those who are suffering. Mr. Aloysius John continued to share on how the pandemic affected all aspects of human lives, including humanitarian sector. He said that we need to re-think, re-imagine and re-start the humanitarian work in the new context.
Caritas Asia invited Ms. Suzanna Tkalec of Caritas Internationalis, Fr. Edwin Gariguez of Caritas Philippines and Mr. Ranjon Francis Rozario of Caritas Bangladesh as the panelists of the webinar. They shared that despite the hardships, the uncertainties, and the miseries that COVID-19 has brought upon us, Caritas organizations have made this crisis to be a particular time to build the civilization of love and make a gesture of tenderness towards those who suffer.
They have reminded us that our works, no matter how difficult they are, are always deeply rooted on our values that very much resonate the Catholic Social Teaching. Through this webinar, we have also been given an opportunity to learn and share with one another our best practices, experiences and opportunities in responding to COVID-19, as wel as the challenges that we continue to face and the possible ways on how we can mitigate them.
Additionally in this webinar, the panelists also looked into how localization plays an important part in our response to the pandemic. The responses from Caritas Philippines and Caritas Bangladesh highligthed that most of our humanitarian response to COVID-19 requires the active involvement of local leaders, communities and individuals, especially in this time where physical movements are very limited.
In his closing remarks, Dr. Benedict Alo D’Rozario, Caritas Asia President, reminded the meeting participants to take this World Humanitarian Day celebration to keep ourselves reminded that COVID-19 response is not just simply responding to those in need, but also fulfilling Caritas mission to spread love and witness the Gospel.
Dr. Alo thanked all panelists, speakers and participants. Despite the limited time, Dr. Alo emphasized the importance of this platform for Caritas Member Organzations in Asia to reflect the spirituality of our actions and to prepare for the way forward. In this time when our “old normal” has been replaced by the “new normal”, it is important that our Confederation keeps abreast of the changing situation of our societies and be ready to face the new challenges evolving from the pandemic, while also continuously finding new and innovative ways of maximizing and making better use of our existing and developing opportunities.
Besides discussion in the webinar, Caritas Asia regional secretariat and some member organizations also celebrated the World Humanitarian Day through social media posts throughout the week. The posts were intended as an acknowledgement of the great works done by Caritas staffs and volunteers in responding to COVID-19 based on their capacity and contexts.
We are very pleased to share with you that Caritas Malaysia has joined the Caritas family. Aloysius John, Caritas Internationalis General Secretary, stated that the presence of Caritas Malaysia will certainly contribute to the dialogue of life through its projects and other activities in the animation of the Christian community and wider Malaysian society.
In the midst of COVID-19, Caritas Malaysia distributed relief items for affected persons and families in need in Sabah, Serawak and Semenanjung.
We invite you all to welcome Caritas Malaysia as part of our family in the Asia region and we are certainly looking forward to working together with the Caritas Malaysia team in the future.
Find more about Caritas Malaysia on their official accounts:
In these extremely difficult times of the CoVID-19 pandemic, I sincerely pray for all of us to keep safe and healthy, not just for the sake of our own wellbeing, but also for those whom we love and serve. Now, more than ever, we are all called to pray for the healing power of Christ and ask for the grace to live in order to serve.
As our Caritas Member Organizations in Asia and in other parts of the world are proactively implementing measures to curtail the further spread of this global health crisis, while also taking appropriate initiatives to help governments and communities cushion the rapidly intensifying effects of CoVID-19, I would like to express Caritas Asia’s heartfelt support and solidarity with you and your families. We are aware of the challenges that you are facing during this global crisis, but at the same time, we are also conscious of the many great efforts that many of you are initiating, to help ease the difficulties of our brothers and sisters in your respective countries and regions.
Our Caritas family, particularly in Asia, is considered essential during this time of crisis, as we are among the key players in helping communities, as well as a critical player in responding to the needs of the poor and vulnerable. Caritas Asia is extremely grateful to all of you for all the noble deeds you are doing in helping our suffering brothers and sisters in the region, while also taking significant steps to safeguard and protect our own Caritas family, by adhering to the strict precautionary measures that are aligned with the guidelines of the World Health Organization and as per the instructions of your respective governments.
Caritas Asia also stands in solidarity and support with the doctors, nurses, medical staff, and all other individuals, who have been working tirelessly to help patients, despite the grave danger of getting the virus themselves during the performance of their duties. We salute the courage and perseverance of these health professionals, who sacrifice their own safety, in order to save lives during this battle against CoVID-19. We offer our heartfelt gratitude and prayers for these incredible men and women for their compassion, perseverance, and their heroic sacrifices to protect and heal our communities.
As we observe the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ during this Holy Week, let us all be ever more united in prayer that we may continue to find courage and open our hearts to the love of Christ, so that we can feel the consolation of God during these extremely challenging times. Let us reflect on the words of the Holy Father Pope Francis in his Palm Sunday message:
“So, in these holy days, in our homes, let us stand before the Crucified One, the fullest measure of God’s love for us, and before the God who serves us to the point of giving his life, and let us ask for the grace to live in order to serve. May we reach out to those who are suffering and those most in need. May we not be concerned about what we lack, but what good we can do for others.”
I wish you all a blessed Triduum and a very Happy Easter!
Benedict Alo D’Rozario
Caritas Asia Regional President
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”
Two days International conference was organized in Yangon on 24 & 25th January 2020 to discuss how the church can engage effectively in addressing the most heinous crime against humanity. The Conference brought together the different church agencies like Santa Marta Group, Caritas Internationalis, Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference, International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), Migrants and Refugees Section from Dicastery on Integral Development to discuss and plan how we can better fight against trafficking in persons and do it in cooperation with different stakeholders. For Caritas Asia, it was a great platform to share the work at the international level with other sister organizations.
The conference began with the opening mass by Most Rev. Lumen Monteiro, Bishop of Agartala, Chairman of Caritas India along with His Eminence Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, from Yangon and His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of Santa Marta Group. Cardinal Vincent Nichols in his keynote address said that “we need to give first place to the victim. Our approach should be victim-centric and keep the victim at the heart of all our intervention because the victim bears the mind of Christ.” He added that the work against trafficking must be carried forward in partnership and that’s why we are here to build the partnership among Church agencies.
The root causes for unsafe migration and trafficking is extreme poverty, lack of birth certificate and other important documents, business which looks at the only profit and the demand side, said Mgs. Robert Vitillo. There are also other causes like conflicts that make people vulnerable to leave their country and land.
The Social Welfare Minister from Myanmar presented that they have singed MoU between Thailand and Myanmar to prevent unsafe migration and labor exploitation. The work by the government was much appreciated by all.
International Organization for Migration called the Church to focus on collecting the evidence, strategy, and coordination and improving the programs that are implemented. The Church can engage with international law enforcement agencies to combat human trafficking.
Caritas India had an opportunity to present the work against human trafficking at the conference focusing on trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced marriage. Ms. Leeza shared that Caritas India is working at the Indo Nepal border with international as well as internal trafficking in persons and unsafe migration. In the last one year, 62 girls have been provided with a short stay at the transit home located in Nepalganj, Nepal. Caritas India works very closely with Sahastra Seema Bal (border force), local police and Non-Government Organizations. An Indo Nepal Cross Border Forum has been initiated to bring the different stakeholders to strengthen the rescue, referral and repatriation process.
The conference provided the platform for the Caritas Asia team to come together and discuss their plan of action. South Asia team got together along with the Asia coordinator and discussed the ways to strengthen the coordination between the countries of South Asia. Hence, it was suggested to have a meeting in the month of February in Nepal to take the process forward. It was decided that Ms. Leeza from Caritas India will lead the coordination process along with focal persons from Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The key action points that came out of the conference were-
- Putting people at the center of our work against human trafficking.
- For Bishop conferences to encounter with the victims, collate and distribute the stories and evidence from grassroots.
- Advocating the government for proper implementation of migration and ani trafficking laws and the international convention on human trafficking.
- Ensuring our employment and business practices are free from any forms of exploitation.
- Bishops Conference in Asia to actively engaging in various regional mechanisms to prioritize human trafficking and safe migration in the region.
The conference also invited us to look at our own ways of purchasing and use of things in our day to day life. How can we prevent human trafficking by taking a small step?
“The truth is, slavery touches the lives of most of us in this room every day through the supply chains of the goods and services we purchase. Do you own a phone or a computer? Clothing? Shoes? Do you drink coffee or tea? Do you wear jewelry or makeup? Do you buy seafood, pet food, meat, fruit, and vegetables or eat fast food? You and I cannot deny that we benefit from the exploitation of other human beings largely because they are invisible to us.” (John McCarthy Chair Sydney Archdiocesan Anti-Slavery Taskforce)
The words of Cardinal inspired me and made me reflect when he said, “Trafficked Drug is used only once but trafficked person is used again and again and again.”
Thematic Manager Anti Human Trafficking and Safe Migration
A reflection by Dr. Benedict D’ Rozario, President of Caritas Asia
Retreat can be, His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said, of two types - one is of total silence.
“Do you want a Retreat of total silence?”, he asked us the participants coming from the Asian Countries.
"No", said I, without thinking much.
So, in our daily schedule of three-days Retreat on 7-9 October 2019 at the Camillian Centre, Bangkok had an important item - Group Sharing - after supper, from 8 pm. The daily schedule had also sessions followed by individual reflection besides prayers, Rosary and Holy Mass. Caritas Directors in Asia as participants had their best three days with reflection and recollection with the help, guidance and sharing of His Eminence Cardinal Tagle. His Eminence Cardinal Tagle based his sharing on the Homily (on 23 May 2019) of the Holy Father for the participants for the 21st Caritas Internationalis General Assembly and the Address during audience (on 27 May 2019) of His Holiness Pope Francis to Participants of the same General Assembly.
During the three days of Retreat in Bangkok through different sessions and homilies His Eminence Cardinal Tagle helped the participants to understand the deeper meaning of what His Holiness Pope Francis wanted to say using the following words and phrases:
- Charity: what it is and what it is not, importance for going back to God and to true nature of Church and going back to human beings
- Integral Development: with reference to culture of rejection and of indifference, need for greater attention on spiritual care and preferential religious car
- Communion: Communion in Christ, Communion in the Church and beyond the Church, Caritas works to become a visible instrument of communion, need for building cordial relationship with our sisters and brothers in need
- Courage of renunciation: no cosmetic adjustment but conversation of heart following simple lifestyle
- Humility of listening: listening of life, stories of joy and goodness
His Eminence Cardinal Tagle 's sharing on commodity and personal views of life from the book - Following Christ in a Consumerist Society by John F. Kavanaugh - was very inspiring. This book helps us to know how culture of consumerism shape our views of life ignoring totally the personalism of the Gospel. At the end of the third day His Eminence Cardinal Tagle wanted us to reflect individually on what influences us the most - that I am a person and a gift from the God or I am an object? Do we accept everyone as a gift from the God? Everything as a gift from Him? I must ponder for days for the questions herein and other similar questions through which he challenged us all.
Sincere thanks and deep gratitude to His Eminence Cardinal Tagle.
Caritas Asia organized a 3-days regional retreat for Asian Caritas Directors and was attended by 36 Participants of 21 MOs, Church in Malaysia, and M&R Section from 7-9 October 2019 at Camilian Center, Thailand.
Caritas Asia once again participated in the 3rd National Interfaith Forum Against Human Trafficking in Cambodia. This forum, which was organized jointly by Caritas Cambodia, and the national government of Cambodia, is probably one of the successful examples of multi stakeholders collaboration in the region where the national government, non-government organizations, and faith leaders work tirelessly together promoting awareness on combatting human trafficking.
The 3rd Interfaith Forum was held in Phnom Penh on 14 August 2019 which attracted approximately 1,700 participants from the royal government of Cambodia, NGOs, Caritas family and the four main religious groups in Cambodia. Besides exhibition, official ceremony and key note speeches, the forum this year added a solidarity walk from Botum Vordtey Pagoda towards the main venue at Koh Pich building.
In his speech, Caritas Asia President, Dr. Benedict D’Rozario, emphasized on the fact that poverty is one of the main causes of human trafficking, which we can overcome by well-planned development interventions including education, health and livelihood supports and employment creation through skills and vocational training. This message was reiterated by Samdech Krola Hom Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and the Chair of National Committee to Counter Trafficking in Persons (NCCT), who added the need to strengthen law enforcement, government commitment and involvement, and co-operation from all relevant sectors.
Approximately 37 participants of Caritas family of 13 Caritas Members Organizations in Asia and 9 church organizations in Asia and Australia joined the forum and was combined with exposure and learning visits in the next day. Participants of Caritas family visited and learned from NCCT, Ministry of Social Affairs, Cambodian Women Crisis Center and Agape International Mission on the national initiatives to combat human trafficking from the perspectives of government and non-government organizations.
Caritas Asia Extraordinary meeting on May 26th, 2019 witnessed a warm handover of leadership key to the new Caritas Asia President, Dr. Benedict D’Rozario, and the incoming Regional Commission Members of Philippines, Mongolia, Korea and Nepal, from the outgoing Caritas Asia president, Archbishop Isao Kikuchi, and regional commission members of Pakistan, Myanmar, and Macau
Caritas Mongolia served as the regional commission member to represent Central Asia in the previous term and is reappointed by the sub region for 2019 – 2022 term.
The extraordinary meeting of Asian Caritas Directors was held to ratify the election of new Caritas Asia President and Regional Commission members on 21 – 22 March 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand.
The conference expressed its hope to the new leadership to continue great work of the predecessors and to further strengthen the collaboration of Caritas with other Catholic and church-based organizations in responding to the growing religious-based violence across Asia. Upon a heartfelt presentation of Caritas Sri Lanka, the Conference is committed that Caritas should actively engaged with different stakeholders to build a bridge towards peace.
Also in the meeting, the conference welcomed Caritas Kyrgyzstan and CHARIS-Singapore to become the official full members of the confederation, as well as the new Directors and management roles of Caritas Nepal, KARINA – Caritas Indonesia and Caritas Japan respectively.
Caritas members in Asia joined more than 400 participants, coming from around the globe, at the 21st Caritas Internationalis General Assembly held from 23 to 28 May 2019.
The work of charity promoted by Caritas becomes a space for dialogue of life, promoting solidarity and common humanity, leading to the promotion of authentic human development
--Michel Roy, Asia Regional Conference, 2019
The annual Regional Conference of Caritas Asia took place on 20–21 March 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand. The conference attracted a total of 61 participants coming from 23 Caritas Member Organizations in Asia as well as from emerging member organizations and Caritas Internationalis. Themed “Committed Together for A Better Future”, the conference served as an occasion for the Caritas family to revisit the unique collaboration of working together in the confederation.
The Caritas Asia Regional Conference is normally held every June of every year in Bangkok, alongside the Regional Partners’ Forum, garnering a broader participation from the MOs, the Caritas Global Partners, and other networks in Asia. This year, however, the Regional Conference was held earlier, in order to prepare the region for the 21st Caritas Internationalis General Assembly, which will be held on 23-28 May 2019 in Rome. In particular, the Regional Conference this year paved the way for the Caritas Confederation in Asia to elect its new Regional President and appoint the new members of the Regional Commission, as well as the region’s representative to the CI Representative Council, for the period covering 2019 - 2022.
At the opening ceremony, Archbishop Isao Kikuchi, President of Caritas Asia, welcomed the participants and expressed his gratitude for their attendance. He acknowledged the presence of the representatives of the Catholic Bishop Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei Darussalam, as well as participants from the Catholic Social Services of main land China. He led the participants in a prayerful moment of silence to honour the memory of the late Bishop Wenceslao Padilla (Caritas Mongolia) and Bishop Michael Yeung (Caritas Hong Kong), both of whom passed away in late 2018.
The Caritas Inetrnationalis President, H. E. Antonio Cardinal Tagle, who delivered his message through a video recording, highlighted the value of collaboration. He said, “As we gather as Caritas Asia, I hope we could recover first the spirit of communion, solidarity and partnership with one another. We share common concerns, common cultures and common dreams, and that necessitates our coming together and working together. Secondly, we are also asked to work together with the wider Caritas family, the confederation”.
He also extended his hopes and prayers that the conference in Asia would serve as a good platform for preparation for the upcoming General Assembly in Rome.
Also in a video message, Michel Roy, the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, likewise highlighted how the theme of the conference reflected the critical global orientation of working together in a confederation, against the common temptation of working alone. In his key note message which was read by Aloysius John, Michel emphasized the need for a commitment of fraternal cooperation as one Caritas family at all levels.
The first day of the conference focused on the deliberations and discussions on the various agenda points, including Caritas Asia’s report of the 2018 Operational Plan and planning for 2019, financial matters in Caritas Asia, and issues related to CA structural fees and CI statutory fees. This was followed by presentations from MOs in Asia.
Dr. Kim Mak, Higher Institute President of St. Francis University of Caritas Hongkong, made a short presentation about the university and invited the MOs to consider sending students to the university.
Fr. Remegiusz Kalski of Caritas Kyrgyzstan and Mr. Devendran Selarajoo Thevar of CHARIS Singapore, also made a short presentation regarding their respective organizations, which are now accepted as associate members of Caritas Internationalis, following the approval of their application for full membership by the CI Representative Council in November 2018. They will become full members upon confirmation at the General Assembly.
On the second day of the Regional Conference, Fr. Sanny Sanedrin, secretary of the CI Legal Affairs Commission, served as moderator for the statutory matters and the elections of the new Caritas Asia President, Regional Commission Members, and Caritas Asia representatives to the Representative Council of CI.
Dr. Benedict Alo D’Rozario was elected as the new Regional President of Caritas Asia. Dr Rozario was the former ED of Caritas Bangladesh, and currently serves as the Asian representative to the CI Finance Advisory Committee and Review Committee, and chair of the IDCS Committee - where he sits as chair.
The new Regional Commission Members were also voted in. They are Caritas Mongolia (Central Asia), Caritas Korea (East Asia), Caritas Nepal (South Asia), and Caritas Philippines (Southeast Asia). The mandate of Caritas Asia’s new leadership will start after the General Assembly.
Caritas Korea and Caritas Philippines will join Dr Rozario as representatives of the Asia region to the CI Representative Council. This Council will be constituted at the General Assembly.
Caritas Asia joined Caritas Thailand and CNATT in their national campaign for “anti-violence against women and children” held on 30 November 2018 in Nong Khai, Thailand. We even shared this journey together with the other 15 Member Organizations across Asia in a Global Solidarity Walk. Click here to see our excitement during the event.
Caritas GMS AT Task Force Members of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Macau attended the 2ndNational Interfaith Forum ‘Combating Human Trafficking’ in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 30 August 2018. The main purpose of the forum was, among others, to promote the important role and commitment of people from different religious groups in combatting human trafficking in Cambodia.
Besides official statement and messages from key note speakers, the event offered a variety of awareness raising activities, ranging from exhibition booths of the religious groups, joined prayers, and message banners.
The Interfaith forum in 2018 marked the successful efforts of Caritas Cambodia after a tireless approach to the government of Cambodia and religious leaders. It started off as a simple invitation of joined prayers for the victims of human trafficking, but three years later, the prayer successfully attracted around 1,700 people ranging from government officials, the 4 main religious groups in Cambodia and respective volunteers, to UN Agencies, Cambodian Red Cross, local NGOs who share the same concern, youth groups, associations and media.
Click here for more information about the event
Caritas Member Organizations in Asia participated in the last Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia from 3 – 6 July 2018.
The three-day Conference attracted 3,500 people to the Mongolian capital from over 1,500 organizations including representatives from more than 50 countries. At the opening ceremony, Prime Minister of Mongolia, Khurelsukh Ukhnaa, issued a powerful call for the countries of the region to work together to reduce disaster losses. “The pursuit of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction is a clear necessity for this region,”he said..
Caritas was represented by Caritas India, Caritas Bangladesh, Caritas Nepal, KMSS-Caritas Myanmar and Caritas Mongolia, as well as CRS of Bangladesh and Nepal offices, with support from KARINA, Caritas Germany, Caritas Australia and Caritas Internationalis.
Our participation aimed to showcase Caritas’ work in building community resilience against disaster risks in the region through presentations of Community Engagement in Building Back Better (India), A Guide For Practitioners and an example of Facilitating Community-led Disaster Risk Management (DRM) planning (Bangladesh) as well as Experience and Challenges of Dzud Response (Mongolia) during the Side Event, Market Place and Ignite Stage sessions respectively.
Father Pierrot Kasemuana, Executive Director of Caritas Mongolia, stated that this event is very strategic and served as an opportunity to put Mongolia on “the map of disaster risk reduction” efforts in the region. Caritas confederation, represented by Father Pierrot Kasemuana, strongly called for a global approach to address the root cause during the Official Statement session, “Building back better will remain ineffective and inefficient unless there is a global approach of integral human development in addressing the root causes of the ecological and environmental problems which are political in nature, strongly influencing the humanitarian situation”.
The conference was officially closed on 6 July 2018 with a shared commitment from all attendants to contribute to the implementation of Sendai Framework.
UNISDR, 6 July 2018
"Think of me when you see a migrant in your community"
Quote from a participant of the conference who happens to also be a migrant
Caritas Asia organized the Asia Regional Conference for Caritas’ global campaign “Share the Journey” in Bangkok, Thailand, on 11-13 June 2018. The conference was attended by 105 staff of the Caritas Member Organizations in Asia, Global Partners, CI, and Caritas network in Asia, including Archbishop Isao Kikuchi, the President of Caritas Asia, and Mr. Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis.
After the opening Mass, Archbishop Isao shared in his opening remarks, “This year’s forum is anchored on our Confederation’s global migration campaign, “Share the Journey”. We have chosen this as our theme, because it is very fitting for our region. Asia also hosts the largest undocumented flow of migrants in the world, mainly between neighboring countries. This phenomenon indeed demonstrates just how big of a thing migration is in our region.”
Cardinal Tagle, who could not attend the event in Asia, sent an inspiring recorded message from Brazil to participants of the Conference. He shared, “I have a journey. You have a journey. By that encounter, we hope we can share the journey. We can walk together. We can protect one another. We can promote the human dignity of the migrant. We can defend them, and we can integrate them into the wider society.”
Mr. Michel Roy, in his keynote address shared the concrete realization that we are one human family. Another realization was that even people born in a difficult place, should be able to live a dignified life. And thus, here is an invitation for all of us to grow with others, regardless of the affluence or depressed areas.
He added that Caritas is called to transform the world, to humanize the world and put the human first. We can also serve to inspire the world. The quality of Caritas’ engagement is the barometer of our own humanity. This translates into the way we meet and welcome migrants and this will bring the collective consciousness to a higher level so that the efforts will go on even after the campaign.
Following the keynote address, Nuncio Paul Tschang launched the Share the Journey exhibition from the four sub regions in Asia.
Later in the day, Leeza of Caritas India, also representing CI Global Campaign Working Group, shared during her presentation how international migration has become one of the greatest challenges of our time and it is a crisis, not in the crisis of migration, but as a crisis of global solidarity.
Father John Murray of NCCM-Caritas Thailand, also reminded the conference participants during his presentation on the 20 Action Points --The Church’s Principles and Guidelines on Working with Migrants and Refugees,“We are much more than just an NGO, as we work to help people and build a better world. We have a firm foundation; our faith. So these 20 action points which are principles for our action with and for migrants remain ever in place, knowing them to be not just unreachable goals in some ideal reality”.
The conference participants engaged in group discussions on migration issues and initiatives in the region, which was followed by presentation sharing from the four sub regions in Asia on what their plans to contribute to the Global Week of Action.
The reality of the cause for the global campaign took shape as participants listened to the sharing from seven migrant workers and urban refugees who found their way to Thailand. These brave people represented the unspoken heroes of the campaign. Although it was upsetting to learn that migrants have been through much hardship and endured unimaginable pain, and there was still fear in their hearts, they had pushed through in search of positive change. Most have learnt to empower themselves, and find ways to make a living and care forothers:
“As an immigrant, I learnt to be a hustler to survive, and importantly, now I learn how to teach in order to support the community. Anger and vengeance takes too much from a person; drains you of energy and it is not motivating. So now, every day I am turning my negatives into positives”
Share the Journey is a Caritas led global campaign aimed at bringing migrants and communities closer together. The 2-year campaign was launched by Pope Frances on 27 September 2017 from St. Peter’s Square in Rome. For more on Share the Journey, please visit journey.caritas.org.
“Human Trafficking is a crime against humanity. It’s a disgrace that people are treated as objects, deceived, raped, often sold many times for different purposes and, in the end, killed or, in any case, physically and mentally damaged, ending up thrown away and abandoned” - Pope Francis (Source: Catholic news Services Dec 12, 2013).
Human trafficking is a crime that exploits women, children and men for numerous purposes including forced labour and sex. The International Labour Organization estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labour globally. This estimate also includes victims of human trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation. While it is not known how many of these victims were trafficked, the estimate implies that currently, there are millions of trafficking in persons victims in the world.
Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims. Children make up almost a third of all human trafficking victims worldwide, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. Additionally, women and girls comprise 71 per cent of human trafficking victims, the report states.
Myanmar is a source country that revealed significantly of country where there are higher rate of out of school, worsen poverty, lack of job opportunities and faced with internal arm conflict. The need to hunt for job has no option. Rather, people are trapped into forced migration, labor exploitation of both the adult and child, forced marriage, and prostitution. However, the accurate data analysis of trafficking is not assessable.
“Human trafficking does not have age or sex limit. We should be very careful with people who become very nice to us, it can be girlfriends, boyfriends, even our relatives”, said Mr. U Win Myint of the Anti-Trafficking Task Force in Yangon Region, implying that everyone can be a victim of human trafficking. Mr. U Win Mint also emphasized the importance of proper public awareness on the issue and invited all people work hand-in-hand to prevent it happening in our country, community, even family.
Ms. Rosy (Changed name), a human trafficking survivor from Myanmar, was invited to share her heartfelt story of how she was trafficked and exploited to work in a rubber plantation in Mya Wa Di border (Myanmar, close to Thai border) after her husband was bribed using beers. She managed to escape after she was connected with the task force.
Fighting human trafficking is not a sole responsibility of one person or one institution as stressed by Mr. Jirawat Chenpasuk of Caritas Thailand that trafficking is transnational crime. Thus, it is imperative to collaborate, strengthen our collective voice, and maximize our resources.
Karuna Mission Social Solidarity (KMSS) organized Blue Heart Campaign on a World day against Human Trafficking with a straightforward objective “To educate people participation to end modern slavery”. The event was held on People’s Square and People’s Park of Yangon, Myanmar on August 6, 2017 and was able to attract around 800 people from various ages and groups to support the campaign, including Anti- Trafficking Task Force of Yangon, Myanmar, Sisters of Good Shepherd Community, Caritas Members and Partners (Cambodia, Vietnam, Macau, Singapore, Spain, Thailand) and mass media.
Besides stickers, t-shirts and posters, the attendants also learned more about the cause, impact and ways to prevent human trafficking through games and songs by popular local singers who share their concerns on human trafficking. There were booths hosted by different agencies, such as KMSS, GMS-Anti Trafficking Task Force of Caritas in Asia Region, ISSARA Institute, IOM, GSMF, FED, RATNA MAHAL Education Care Group and the Anti Trafficking Task Force of Yangon Region that provided more information based on their experiences respectively.
This special occasion is hoped to raise public awareness and to empower the vulnerable people, particularly women and children, and strengthen their ties with many key stakeholders who are working in combating human trafficking.