“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.