Just recently, Pope Francis has set up a commission that would overlook all initiatives and projects regarding the Church’s response to COVID-19. The commission, which is still unnamed, has five working groups that intend to focus on different aspects of the Vatican’s response to the coronavirus—one of which is Caritas Internationalis, dedicated to listening to heeds from churches worldwide.
“Pope Francis is very much preoccupied with COVID-19, and he wants the Church to express solidarity with the local churches and help them at this moment,” Caritas Internationalis Secretary-General Aloysius John said. To bring this idea to life, the Church’s human development arm has set up the “COVID-19 Response Fund,” which aims to raise money for local churches.
John said that the solidarity fund they are raising will be used to start small projects in some localities—one of which is the “Kindness Centers” project that is spearheaded by Caritas Philippines. Kindness Centers are drop-off points where possible donors can bring in-kind items such as food and hygiene kits for those in need. These items will then be distributed to families who gravely need these supplies.
The initiatives of Caritas Philippines line up with one of Caritas Internationalis’s areas of concern—food security. With the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in place in the entire Luzon island, many Filipino workers have been forced to stop their work and stay at home. Majority of these workers are “no work, no pay” employees, which means that they would either have to ask help from their local government units (LGUs) or spend a portion of their savings to make it through the lockdown.
“How are we going to help them? If they don’t have food, then they have to go out to search for food,” John said, “[they would have to] expose themselves, and others, to the contagious effects of this disease.”
A Helping Hand
But aside from food security, Caritas Internationalis also aims to address health-related concerns. Through the response fund, they aim to provide access to clean water and sanitation to communities in need, purchase personal protective equipment (PPEs) for healthcare workers, and provide healthcare services to areas with high number of cases.
Anyone interested in helping out during this pandemic, they may do so by donating through Caritas Internationalis’s website. A Vatican Bank account has also been set up for donations—possible donors may send money through this number: VA29001000000020179007.