In celebration of its 70th Anniversary, Caritas Internationalis, has organized seven regional webinars, each of which showcased the seven regions of Africa, Asia, Europa, LACAR, MONA, North America and Oceania. In the webinars, each region had its own moment not only to mark the anniversary but also to highlight programs and information about their respective regions. The webinars had a variety of audience, including global journalists, donors, international partners, CI confederation members at the regional, national, and diocesan levels, and other institutions and individuals. All the seven regional webinars were covered by the media, particularly by the Vatican News. The webinars were also featured in BAOBAB and were live streamed at CI's YouTube channel.
For Asia, the regional webinar took place on 7 December, and focused on the theme "Seventy years of journeying together in the spirit of fraternity and solidarity." It featured the four sub-regions of Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia, through the presentation of each of the sub-region’s reporter. The webinar provided opportunities for the participants to get more acquainted with the Caritas family in Asia.
Dr. Benedict Alo D’Rozario, Caritas Asia President, welcomed the more than 230 participants to the webinar. In his opening message, Dr. Benedict said that the commemoration of the 70 years of Caritas Internationalis existence is also a celebration everyone else’s own involvement, dedication, commitment, and other personal contributions that helped shape Caritas Internationalis into what it is now, a beacon of Love, Hope, Joy & Peace.
Mr. Aloysius John, Caritas Internationalis Secretary General, thanked Caritas Asia for its contribution to witnessing the work of charity in a unique way which contributes to build dialogue between people of different religions and social harmony at the time when people are trying to divide nations and people using religions.
Mr. Zar Gomez, Caritas Asia Regional Coordinator, gave an overview of Caritas Asia in general and presented a compilation of welcoming messages from 25 Caritas Member Organizations in Asia.
Mr. Sher Abdugapirov, Executive Board Member of Caritas Kyrgyzstan representing Central Asia Sub-Region. In his presentation, he shared how Caritas member organizations in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Church in Turkmenistan provide support and accompaniment to societies, especially poor families. He also shared that the Central Asian MOs provide programs that include education, gender and advocacy, emergency, food security and agriculture, income generation for disabled people, social reintegration, as well as institutional development program.
Mr. Paul Pun, Secretary General of Caritas Macau presented on how Caritas organizations in the sub region of East Asia, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, have been striving to arouse many people's attention by showing fraternal love toward their neighbors, inspired by the teachings of the Pope. They also respond to almost all Emergency Appeals and pay their attention to the situation of migrant workers and marginalized communities to meet the emerging needs of the society.
Fr. Mahendra Gunatilleke, Executive Director of Caritas Sri Lanka, who represented South Asia sub region, shared briefly about the background of each member organization in the sub region (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka). Fr. Mahendra emphasized the importance of Social Teachings of the Church and explained how it becomes the core of Caritas in South Asia because they not only adhere to, but also provide spirituality on norms and policies of the humanitarian development sector.
Ms. Christine Wong, representing South East Asia sub region said that “as members of Caritas Internationalis, we cannot just think within our own country but we need to find ways to collaborate as one body, not only within Southeast Asia but globally, too”. The Executive Director of Caritas Singapore extended the prayer from the sub region (Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, Timor Leste, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia) that all Caritas member organizations can strive as one Caritas family to journey together in solidarity and the spirit of fraternity, to share resources, knowledge, best practices in the social mission, and in the provision of aid in any crisis, and to pray together as one God’s family.
At the closing session of the webinar, Caritas Asia presented a short video on volunteers that acknowledges the crucial role of Caritas volunteers, particularly in Asia, who have been contributing enormously in shaping the works and services of Caritas in the region. There are currently more than 118,000 registered volunteers within Caritas Member Organizations in Asia who are involved in various sectors, such as emergency response, health, education, elderly care and advocacy.
Ms. Babita Alick of Caritas India and Ms. Marta Petrosillo of Caritas Internationalis facilitated the webinar.
You can watch the entire webinar here.