Category Archives: Charity

Priests and volunteers deliver 15,000 food baskets amid coronavirus pandemic

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Fr. Omar Sánchez Portillo distributes food in Lima’s Lurin district. Credit: Beatitudes Community

– Priests and volunteers have distributed more than 15,000 food baskets to Peruvians unable to work during the nation’s coronavirus pandemic lockdown. They say they aim to distribute 15,000 more.

Fr. Omar Sánchez Portillo, secretary general of Caritas Lurín and leader of region’s Beatitudes Community, announced March 26 the distribution of 15,000 food baskets to families living on metro Lima’s south side. Lurín is a southern district of Lima, Peru.

“Today we’ve already distributed 15,000 food baskets in the poorest and most vulnerable areas of South Lima. And we’re going for another 15,000!” the priest said March 26.

Sanchez manages a home for orphans in Lurin, in addition to a homeless shelter. Earlier this month, he began an online fundraiser for cleaning supplies and other provisions needed for the facility. He said because of the success of the fundraiser, he was able to purchase food for distribution in the region.

He began another fundraiser when several families approached Caritas, “asking us for help so they could have something to eat because these are people who work as street vendors and motorcycle taxi drivers and unfortunately they don’t have anything to eat because they’re out of work.”

For roughly four dollars per basket, his organization is able to assemble enough staples to replenish the food stores of hungry families.

Sanchez described one family assisted by his group, in which nine family members had been quarantined while the family’s father had been hospitalized. The family had run out of food by the time Caritas brought them a food basket.

Thanks to the group’s donors, Sanchez said, “we gave them a little statue of Our Lady of Aparecida donated by some good friends from Brazil…. We’ll keep on going!”

The delivery of food baskets is being undertaken in coordination with public health authorities, in order to avoid crowding at the headquarters of the Beatitudes Community.

Volunteers reportedly stay quarantined on the premises so as to avoid possibly infecting their families or other citizens.

The Peruvian government declared a state of emergency starting March 15, limiting travel in the country, closing public institutions and private businesses and issuing a 15 day stay-at-home order for all residents. However, on March 26 it announced the order would be extended to April 15.

While isolation and social distancing measures are expected to help slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, day laborers have been especially hard hit financially.

There are 950 coronavirus cases in Peru and 24 deaths.

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/priests-and-volunteers-deliver-15000-food-baskets-amid-coronavirus-pandemic-27964

Illinois religious order funds hotel initiative to protect homeless from coronavirus

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Credit: glasseyes view via Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

– As homeless shelters have been limited by the coronavirus, the Clerics of Saint Viator will help fund an initiative to house homeless people amid the pandemic.

The religious order based in Arlington Heights, a Chicago suburb, has donated $63,000 to help over 60 homeless people stay at two hotels in the city. The initiative will last for at least three weeks, but it will likely be extended.

The religious order partnered with Journeys: The Road Home in Palatine to help homeless people have a place to quarantine during this pandemic. As of March 25, over 1,800 cases of the coronavirus have occurred in Illinois, the Chicago Tribune reported.

As the organization has also received donations from numerous other religious organizations in the area, the hotels were able to house 81 people last night with 10 more clients who will be checked-in today.

Suzanne Ploger, Journey’s director of development, told CNA that it is essential to help homeless people protect themselves from the virus as they are unable to self-quarantine.

Not only has the pandemic caused public facilities and businesses to close, but it has closed homeless shelters. Because of the pandemic, the organization’s services and volunteers have been limited. She said a majority of the volunteers for the homeless ministry are elderly people, who also need to be kept safe from the outbreak.

Experts are urging people to “ stay indoors, and then all the restaurants are closing and all the public facilities are closing,” she said.

“If you don’t have a home to shelter in place, where are you supposed to be? That’s where we were struggling with how we can provide the best services to our clients and keep them safe as well as be able to keep our staff and our volunteers healthy too.”

She said the clients have been chosen by those who are most at risk of COVID-19. She said the organization has prioritized 100 people who normally use their shelters and ranked them in terms of those with advanced age, families, or health issues.

“As we have secured the hotel room and we have secured the amount of funding to house that person in that hotel room for three weeks, then we house them and then we’d go down to the next rank on the list,” she said.

The organization will also help feed the clients in the hotel with a meal delivery system.

“We’re packing up food pantry bags, we’re packing up meals, some people are donating food again, and we’re starting that system of delivering meals to the hotels. Right now we’re doing it almost every day,” she said.

The Journey is a homeless service agency that partners with 21 religious organizations that provide emergency shelter. It began 30 years ago and, under normal circumstances, will house about 100 homeless people each night.

Besides the hotel, the organization will keep open a limited number of services including a food pantry, clothing closet, mail services, and emergency case management.

Father Daniel Hall, the provincial superior for the Viatorians, said, without living assistance, this pandemic may cause dozens of homeless people to get sick. He said this project should be important to Catholics and encouraged parishioners to donate.

“This is in line with our mission as a Catholic religious community,” said Hall, according to the Daily Herald. “This crisis could lead to between 60 to 80 men, women and children on the verge of living on the streets, and even more vulnerable to the coronavirus.”

“It is my hope that you join us in this commitment to care for our most vulnerable sisters and brothers during this crisis.”

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/illinois-religious-order-funds-hotel-initiative-to-protect-homeless-from-coronavirus-37882

Kiev monastery fights coronavirus with homemade hand sanitizer

Screenshot_2020-03-25 Kiev monastery fights coronavirus with homemade hand sanitizer
A clergyman of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine packs bottles of hand sanitizer at the Vydubychi Monastery in Kiev, Ukraine March 21, 2020. Priests and students of the theological seminary produce hand sanitizer and donate it to the elderly and people in need to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

KIEV, – The black-robed Orthodox clerics sit in a line under an icon in one of Ukraine’s oldest monasteries, mixing up batches of hand sanitizer to distribute to the poor and the needy.

Wearing purple disposable gloves, the clergy and students in the 11th-century Vydubychi complex concentrate as they follow the recipe set out by World Health Organization and use sterilised gear to fill row after row of plastic bottles.

The monastery in Kiev started the operation after hearing people were struggling to get enough sanitizer to protect themselves against the coronavirus, Roman Holodov, head of the social assistance department at the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, said.

“People are in a panic, especially poor people who have no access to sanitizers,” he told Reuters.

Hundreds of bottles filled with clear liquid are boxed up in a room that used to be a Sunday school.

They are then sent to destinations scrawled on a whiteboard – cities from Odessa in the south to Mariupol in the east, close to the frontline of Ukraine’s simmering conflict with Russian-backed separatists.

Churches across the denominations have started adapting to the coronavirus which at the last count has infected 73 people in the country and killed three.

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic church broadcast Sunday services online to comply with restrictions on gatherings. Priests have asked the faithful to stop kissing crosses or relics.

Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the Major Archbishop of the Greek Catholic Church, delivered his sermon in the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ of Sunday. The chairs were mostly empty, but more than 20,000 people watched on YouTube.

The spoon he used to administer communion to the few worshippers who were present was disinfected after each use.

“At our request, at our call, people stayed at home. And in my opinion, it shows their Christian and civic sense of responsibility,” he told Reuters after the service.

 

Coronavirus quarantine: How Catholics in Italy are helping the poor

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A woman walks past a “Wall of Kindness,” a charity work phenomenon, encouraging people to items such as winter clothing for the homeless, on Jan 25, 2020 in Milan. Credit: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty

– While Italy is under nationwide quarantine to combat the coronavirus pandemic, Catholic charities throughout the country are doing what they can to help the poor and most vulnerable.

In Milan, the center of the Italian epidemic, the Caritas Ambrosiana Catholic charity network has kept open the doors of its shelters, soup kitchens, and food pantries, albeit with some modifications to help keep people safe.

“In the midst of the emergency we have tried to balance two principles: public health and the support of people in difficulty,” the spokesperson, Francesco Chiavarini, told CNA by phone.

At soup kitchens and food pantries, people are first checked for fevers and then enter in limited numbers. Night shelters and dormitories are now kept open during the day for the homeless.

“In this moment, life is very complicated for the homeless,” Chiavarini said, explaining that places where people without homes go to escape the region’s still cold weather, public libraries for example, are now all closed.

The Italian government has ordered people to remain at home during the quarantine, but people living on the street have no way to comply with that mandate.

“In some way, with this little initiative, we are trying to resolve this paradox,” the Caritas spokesperson said. “It’s a drop in the ocean really, but it’s what we can do.”

Milan’s Caritas hopes that during this difficult time, the shelters can become a “home” for those who do not have one.

People in northern Italy are “really, really worried,” Chiavarini said. As the number of cases grows, so does the risk of the collapse of the health service.

He encouraged Catholics to think of ways they can show closeness and solidarity to others, even while they cannot be physically near them.

Caritas Internationalis’ is helping refugees in Italy know what is going on with the coronavirus and what they should do.

In Rome, the Catholic lay community of Sant’Egidio has volunteers continuing to bring food to people living on the streets. Volunteers are also handing out products such as facial tissues and hand sanitizer to the poor.

The community’s soup kitchens also remain open with extra precautionary measures, such as limiting the number of people who can enter at one time, ensuring hygiene and physical distance between people.

Sant’Egidio encouraged people to do their part to combat isolation by reaching out with phone and video calls, letters, and messages to the elderly and disabled, especially those in institutions where they cannot be visited because of the risk of contagion.

In an interview with Vatican Media, the president of Sant’Egidio, Marco Impagliazzo, said it is important to remember the most vulnerable — such as the homeless, the elderly, and hospice patients — during this time.

“You have to find new ways to stay close to these people, naturally avoiding being infected and infecting, it is something that requires a lot of intelligence, a lot of creativity, and a lot of passion and love,” he said.

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/coronavirus-quarantine-how-catholics-in-italy-are-helping-the-poor-59229

Nonprofit seeks to provide computers to Iraqi Christian schools

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Refugee children at a refugee camp in Duhok, Iraq, March 28, 2015. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

– While Christian schools in Iraq continue to suffer, a non-profit that promotes positive engagement in the Middle East is aiming to provide computers to Assyrian Christian schools.

In partnership with the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, the Philos Project is trying to raise $25,000 to install computer labs for Christian schools throughout northern Iraq.

Iraqi Kurdistan has seen a drastic decrease in educational funds, said Juliana Taimoorazy, advocacy fellow for the Philos Project and founder of Iraqi Christian Relief Council.

“These schools don’t have what they need from a technology perspective,” she said.

“It’s really debilitating because they’re unable to type on Word for example, physically or create spreadsheets. Everything they’re doing is by theory. I mean, you can imagine how integral computers are in our daily lives,” she said, pointing to the fact that most homes in Western culture have a computer.

She said that out of 23 Christian schools in the area, the project will provide computer labs for five of them. The Christian schools range from elementary to high school.

These computer labs will consist of printers, projectors, and at least five laptops, electrical wires, and internet routers.

For four years, these schools in Iraq have requested Taimoorazy for new computers because scarcely any families have this technology themselves and the few schools that do have these machines own computers that were manufactured around 2004.

“I kid you not, they have books. They study book to book through pages [on how to] create spreadsheets, how to turn it on and off, how to do a cut and paste, how to create a graphic for example, or attach a graphic into the word document,” she said.

Taimoorazy, who is the granddaughter of a survivor of the Armenian genocide, has also been persecuted in Iraq for her faith. She said Christian children not only face difficulties to obtain their education but they have also been persecuted. During her time in Iran, she talked about times when she was not allowed to play with Muslim children and moments when she was ridiculed for her faith.

She said that since the invasion of the Islamic State funds for Christian schools have drastically decreased.

“People started giving to life-sustaining projects like food, tents, and repairing their homes, if they’re going back to their homes. The amount of money that was allocated for schools, for teachers or transportation or printing books and translating books from Kurdish to Assyrian or Syriac, it’s dropped to really a very, very low level.”

Among other hardships that these schools face, she said educators continue to teach without being paid and some students are not able to access school because of a lack of transportation.

However, she said they are strong-willed people with a deep respect for education. Some of the students are even trilingual, understanding Assyrian, Arabic, and Kurdish. She said that while parents will struggle with the basic necessities, these families will sacrifice to further their children’s education.

“They’re actually resilient children, but they haven’t seen anything but war, devastation, hunger, and yet they have such love, profound love for education,” she said.

“[These] people will grow up to go out there in the world to serve humanity and based on their own experience, based on the trauma that they’ve gone through, they can be even more impactful. I come from a traumatized generation … We suffer from collective and generational trauma. We have been persecuted. My great grandparents were persecuted.”

She expressed hope that the worldwide Christian community and people of goodwill will take this project seriously. She stressed the importance of offering these children equal opportunities in technology, noting that, in order to be successful, these children must have hands-on experience with computers.

“We have to remember what John Paul II said that ‘the Church breathes with both lungs’ and we cannot forget the right lung of the Church, which is Eastern Christianity. So my plea to the Catholic world, to the Christian world in the West is not to forget their brothers and sisters in the East, and to really help these young minds, these young children to lead dignified lives,” she said.

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/nonprofit-seeks-to-provide-computers-to-iraqi-christian-schools-14988

Nigeria’s roads: ‘My son died in a car accident – now I control traffic’

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Monica Dongban-Mensem (centre) received training from authorities to qualify as a traffic officer

During her free time, Nigerian Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem controls traffic in the capital, Abuja, eight years after her son was killed in a hit-and-run accident.

On the day I met her she was clad in her blue traffic vest, feet spread apart, sweaty arms slicing the air at a frantic pace, as she directed cars in 38C (100F) heat fuelled by the idling cars.

Around her was the busy chaos of the Berger roundabout in the city’s central area.

The cars that were not moving were hunched on their front axles, horns blaring, impatiently waiting for her to say “go”.

She was clearly in charge.

“Many Nigerians are impatient and it shows in their driving,” Justice Dongban-Mensem told me.

She did not know who was responsible for her son’s death but wanted to tackle some of the poor driving she witnessed.

She started going to bus stations to speak to drivers about road safety in Nigeria.

What she found shocked her.

Most of the drivers had not received proper training and were not familiar with the traffic rules.

Such ignorance might have caused the death of her son and she was determined to change that.

The 62-year-old has set up a non-profit organisation named after her late son – Kwapda’as Road Safety Demand – to educate motorists about safety and she also plans to establish a driving school for potential commercial drivers, where they can receive training free-of-charge.

Not content with that, Justice Dongban-Mensem wanted to play a role in controlling the traffic herself. After weeks of training with the road safety commission she qualified as a traffic warden.

It was not until 2016, five years after the accident, that she felt able to visit the scene of her son’s death in the central Nigerian city of Jos.

“My mission was to find someone who could just tell me or describe to me how my son died.”

But once she got there, she was left terrified, sad and angry by the chaos she saw.

 

 

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-50728800

Ninety-year-old “chef of the poor” cooks it up for Rome’s homeless

Screenshot_2020-02-11 Ninety-year-old chef of the poor cooks it up for Rome's homeless
Dino Impagliazzo stirs a saucepan of soup for homeless living in Rome and outside the Vatican colonnades, Italy, January 18, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

ROME, – Dino Impagliazzo dices onions like a master chef and makes a mean vegetable soup, but most of his loyal “customers” can’t afford to buy even a bread stick.

Sprightly despite his 90 years, Impagliazzo is known as Rome’s “chef of the poor”.

Three days a week, he and other volunteers of the RomAmoR (RomeLove) association he founded make the rounds of food markets and bakeries for contributions from retailers who help him live out his dream of feeding the homeless.

It all began 15 years ago when a homeless man at a Rome train station asked him for money to buy a sandwich.

“I realized that perhaps instead of buying one sandwich, making some sandwiches for him and for the friends who were there would be better, and thus began our adventure,” he said.

Now the RomAmoR volunteers cook the food on the other four days of the week and serve it in various places in the city, mostly near train stations.

“We try to involve more and more people so that Rome becomes a city where people can love each other, you know?” he said while preparing soup in a professional kitchen. “It’s solidarity”.

On Saturday nights, they set up under a portico outside St. Peter’s Square to feed the growing number of homeless who sleep in the area, where Pope Francis has also opened medical and bathing facilities for them.

Impagliazzo, who once worked for Italy’s social security department, launched his mission to feed the needy with a handful of fellow pensioners.

They quickly graduated from making sandwiches to cooking hot meals, first at home and then in a convent, and the group now numbers 300 volunteers, both young and old, and uses its own fully equipped kitchen.

Impagliazzo, who received a honorific award from Italian President Sergio Mattarella recognising him as a “hero of our times,” never dreamed his initiative would become so successful, or generate such good will.

On a recent Saturday night near the Vatican, four extra volunteers showed up.

“I am happy because we never tell anyone ‘we don’t need you tonight’,” he said. “They stay among us.”

 

 

 

http://news.trust.org/item/20200206110537-ha6f2/