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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

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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
Regional President
Mr. Zar Gomez
Regional Coordinator
Mr. Ari Nugroho
Regional Program Officer
     
Ms. Wanphen “Toi” Khemanucheta
Finance Manager
Mr. Ratha “Sam” Lay
Administrative Officer
Mr. Sayumphoo “Ki” Sajja
Finance Assistant
 
Ms. Suwannee “Tualek” Kaewchanda
Housekeeper

Caritas Cambodia contribute to reduce food shortage and improve family’s food security to vulnerable families during COVID-19 pandemic effected at Kantout village Kantout commune Svay Leu district, Siem Reap province, on July 16th 2020.

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“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.

Caritas Malaysia response to COVID-19 in Sabah, Sarawak and Semenanjung.

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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: 

https://www.facebook.com/Caritas-Malaysia-108584004177341

http://instagram.com/caritasmalaysia

Jeevan Vikas Sanstha Amravati with the support of Caritas India, New Delhi distributed 150 food grain kits senior Citizens and poor people who had nothing to eat (Photo by Caritas India)

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Dear friends,

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.”

 (William Wilberforce)

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.” 

Leeza
Thematic Manager Anti Human Trafficking and Safe Migration
Caritas India

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.

 

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