In the early 1950’s, most Macau citizens were economically deprived. On top of this, the society was flooded with newly arrived immigrants and refugees. In 1951, Fr. Luis Ruiz Suarez, SJ arrived Macau. In perpetuation of Christian spirit to serve the less brothers, Fr. Luis borrowed the Casa Ricci office (currently the Head Office of Caritas de Macau) to start the “Centro Social Mateus Ricci”. As a start, the service was only for refugees. The center provided services like food supply, accommodation, job hunting, and document processing. The main purpose of the center was to help refugees to build up their self confidence in new environments. For education of their children, the centre set up the “Colegio Mateus Ricci School” and “Escola de Santa Teresa do Menino Jesus School” respectively.
In 1960’s, refugees in Macau had migrated to other countries and Fr. Luis shifted to services for the poor and homeless elderly. He established the “Betania Home” for the elderly men and the “Santa Maria Home” for the elderly women. While in the North District of Macau peninsula and Taipa Island, Fr. Luis began supplying rice food, financial and case support for the poor people. Because of financial problem, a lot of families had their children worked as child labour. To tackle the child labor problem, Fr. Luis provided rice to the poor families and pervaded the parents to have their children to go to school.
In 1971, “Centro Social Mateus Ricci” formally became a subordinate organization of the Diocese of Macau, and a member of Caritas Internationalis. It renamed itself to “Caritas de Macau.” Besides the change of name and structures, the work of the “Caritas de Macau” has become diversified after the principle of integration and improvement so that it can be more responsive to a rapidly changing society. During this period, “Caritas de Macau” established the Family Casework & Assistance Service, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Home for the Elderly, St. Luis Gonzaga Center for the Disabled and Institute of Social Work, the first Institute in Macau offering training for social workers.
In the 80’s, following a rapid urbanization and social development of Macau, citizens faced not only basic living problems, but also psychological adjustment problem to new city life: Simultaneously, with students graduating from the Institute of Social Work, “Caritas de Macau” began modifying her service patterns. In elderly service, “Caritas de Macau” exerted managerial control over “S. Francis Xavier Home for the Elderly” from the Canossian Sisters, and open three Day Centers for the elderly in Largo de S. Agostinho, Ilha Verde and Taipa Island. In its service to the mentally and physically handicapped people, “Caritas de Macau” took over the management control of S. Lucia Centre and S. Margaret Centere, and based on the belief of all people are equal; a special school for mentally disabled children, “Caritas School” was found. Many services started from the 70’s continued to function in the 80’s, such as the Caritas Women Centre, the Brito School, “Vehicle Driving Course for Physically Disabled Persons” and “Life Hope Hot Line” all started to operate in this period. Clients of the above services were but the most needed and marginalized people in Macau society.
Entering the 90’s, there was again a significant reform in the administrative structure of “Caritas de Macau”; including the establishment of General Assembly, the Board of Supervisors, the Executive Committee, Committee of Consultants, and the Secretary General. Under the leadership of Fr. Ruiz as the Superintendent; and Mr. Paul Pun, MSW as the Secretary General, “Caritas de Macau” has then adopted a timely contemporary management approach to effectively monitor and execute the mission and vision of “serving the most needed”. Regarding services, colleagues of the “Caritas de Macau” are wholeheartedly devoted to different areas like services for: the homeless, ex-prisoners, youth; services in the elderly housing estate, in a special day care elderly centre, a kindergarten, a nursery and services in the rehabilitation bus. Embracing a systematic and diversified genre of social services, “Caritas de Macau” has long endeavored to realize the “human development” service model with an objective facilitating a notion that “people shall have development opportunity to become an independent and autonomous individual.”
Beyond the millennium, the world economy was under the influence of a financial storm in 1997, which resulted in economic crisis in Macau and lots of unemployment was then evident. “Caritas de Macau”, in response to the social needs of employment referral and creation of new jobs, established the “Grupo de Cooperacao Hip Lek” on 16 June 2006 to assist the unemployed. Years later, many middle-aged individuals were found unemployed because of social changes. The livelihoods of the individuals were affected and they had to approach the Social Welfare Bureau for assistance. Seeing this, the Bureau collaborated with “Caritas de Macau” and other three NGOs to put forward a “Community Employment Assistance Programme: Work better than Aid” from May 2004 to March 2006. The project changed to a “Community Employment Assistance Programme” in April 2006. The Bureau, at the same time, also launched the “Positive Life Service Programme” to further assist the clients to be re-employed. While in 2003, the economy of Macau was under the influence of the “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome” (SARS). “Caritas de Macau” continued then to play a key role in helping the needed and the marginalized.
In order to be more effectively nurture youngsters to possess righteous value and ideals through performing arts, and cultivate their cultural orientation, Teatro Clementina Leitão Ho Brito witnessed her opening on 26 May 2005. On the other hand, Lar de Cuidados ‘Sol Nascente’ da Areia Preta aims at providing quality and comprehensive hostelling and care services to those persons who are fragile and require intensive care because of physical disability, so that they can be supported within a reasonable scope to sustain a healthy status, slow down deteriorating process and be able to enjoy a decent and esteemed life. The Care Home began her service in March 2007.
In order to improving the lives of the disabled residing at Care Homes, “Centro de Santa Margarida” was officially inaugurated in 2009 and relocated to it’s new address at Rua de Tin Chon, povoação de Cheok Ka, Taipa. Apart from an increased Home size in order to meet social needs, the new Centro also helps to improve the living conditions of the service users, thereby makes the service expansion possible, and helps to improve the rehabilitation training service and thus the quality of life of the service users.
To commemorate the life of Mother Mary Goisis, and continue to promote the spirit of community service, Caritas Macau opened the “Mother Mary Social Studies Center” at Rua do Pedro Coutinho no. 90 in November of 2010. The Center aims to promote Macau’s social research in different areas. Through assessment and analysis of different aspects of social development; the Center shall integrate social research and practical work, and further enhance the development of localization of social work profession.
On 8th September, 2011, Dr. Chui Sai On, the Chief Executive of Macau Special Adminstration Region, presided over the opening ceremony of Centro do Dia “Brilho da Vida”. the new Center is located at the building of Fai Chi Kei’s Elderly Housing estate??, which aims at providing various cultural and recreational activities for the elderly, enriching their lives while improving and promoting their independent living capability so that their fragility could be controlled. The Center, in particular, provides personal care housework assistance and 24-hour emergency support for the elderly and infirm, allowing them to feel more comfortable whiler spending their golden years in the community. The Center aims at achieving the goal of home care for the elderly.
“Centro do Serviço de Fornecimento Temporário de Alimentos da Caritas”, which provides emergency temporary food assistance service, commenced it’s services on 26th September, 2011. This service serves as a personal channel to reach out those with financial difficulties, to provide further assessment and servicesin order to minimize the occurrence of potential problems; in the long run, the service aims at combining the momentum of the society through services to bring about social awareness and subsequent solutions to the poverty problem.
Macau is aging, and there is an increase in number for those who require a higher level of care services. Through the Macau Foundation’s financial support in December 2012, Caritas Macau has established the “Projecto Fundação Macau – Serviços a Idosos em Casa”. This service fills the existing gaps in the community servicesby extending the community care services to a maximum of 24 hours and during holidays, and allowing those in need to live easy-minded in their recognizable community.
In addition, to meet the developing needs of the society in recent years, Caritas Macau has established a few social enterprises, Grupo de Cooperação “Hip Lek” and Good Fortune Charity Shop. Grupo de Cooperação “Hip Lek” commenced it’s services in March, 2009, with the objective of exchange and cooperation between the disabled in Macau and Hong Kong, and provide transport services to travelers with mobility difficulties, especially those who are wheelchair bounded. Good Fortune Charity Shop “Caritas Charity Sales Corner”, started her trail operation in 2011, and was officially opened in 2013 The Shop’s primary operation is through collections of new or second-hand goods donated by enterprises or donors. the service concept is to distribute the funds earned from the charity sales to charitable services and more importantly, to support environmental protection, and promote and encourage the public to cherish resources, and the earth.
Today, Caritas Macau has been serving the community and greater society for over 60 years. The staff and volunteers has been working earnestly under the core spirit of love to care the weak, to assist those who need to summon difficulties and rebuild their lives. At present, Caritas Macau service categories already cover elderly, families, young children, teenagers, education, rehabilitation, counseling hotlines, social reintegration, homelessness, foreign labours, cultural promotion and sponsorship. Being an organization with a record of long history and commitment, Caritas Macau is endeavored to integrating efforts from different walks of society, with an aim to exploring the situation and difficulties facing the general public, and to foster more positive services so that the goal of “People as the Centre” can be achieved.
For more information about Caritas Macau, visit our website www.caritas.org.mo