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
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
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.
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).
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.