Coronavirus Pandemic Ushers In Humanitarian Innovations- Caritas Ghana Official
As some countries in the world are experiencing a second wave of the coronavirus infections, Caritas Ghana official says the pandemic has pushed charity organisations to explore humanitarian innovations that empowers the poor and create sustainability.
“This is our calling and our joy and we must remember the poor in impoverished countries who are at the greatest risk on the greatest scale by stretching forth our hands not just by physical means but also through prayer,” Mr. Zan Samuel Akologo, Executive Secretary of Caritas Ghana said during a webinar conference organised by Caritas Ghana.
The Webinar was to mark celebration of World Day of the Poor instituted by Pope Francis for the 33rd Sunday of the Church's Liturgical Calendar as well as to share information on some best practices and to explore concrete ways of enhancing response and to drum home the Pope's message for the day is which is on the theme “Stretch forth your hand to the poor (Sir 7:32)”.
The Webinar held in partnership with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Rome; Caritas Internationalis and the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference was on the Topic: “Building Inclusive, Welcoming and Equitable Societies in the Covid-19 And Other Humanitarian Crises.”
Mr. Akologo said “the needs of the poor are overwhelming but we must remain steadfast in our pursuit to do more for the poor bearing in mind the short- and long-term impact of Covid-19 on the poor.
Caritas Ghana celebrated its third Caritas Week in all the ecclesial communities in Ghana from November 8, to November 15 2020 as part of activities to mark the World Day of the Poor. The Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference established the Caritas Week and took into consideration the World Day of the Poor.
As a convention, Ghana's Caritas Week is marked the week preceding the World Day of the Poor and the theme for the World Day of the Poor is adopted by the Caritas Week celebration “Stretch forth your hand to the poor (Sir 7:32)”
“These words in the theme remain expedient considering the difficult times we are facing globally,” Mr. Akologo stated.
He said that “the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, especially its economic adversities have been felt all around the world with its harsh realities mostly affecting the vulnerable in the society living in poverty; women and children, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups.”
“The recent torrential rains and the spillage of the Bagre Dam in neighboring Burkina Faso has caused severe flooding that displaced entire communities and individuals in the five regions of Northern Ghana,” he stated.
Adding, he said “Indeed, it is a challenging period as we are now being called to remember the poor while dealing with various consequences of the Covid-19 crises ourselves.”
At the webinar Conference, the Caritas Ghana Head shared that the message of Pope Francis for this year's World Day of the Poor “is a call for all of us to demonstrate that right from the beginning, the entire Church was instructed to be mindful of, and feel some measure of responsibility for the plight of our neighbors, however geographically and culturally remote they might be.”
“From the acts and teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we know that Christians' concern for the poor extends beyond the boundaries of the church to all humanity,” he averred.
The theme “Stretch forth your hand to the poor” he said thus a summons to our responsibility and commitment as men and women who are part of a unified family as the human race.
Mr. Akologo pointed out that “It is not a matter of fine words but of a concrete commitment inspired by divine charity, noting that “Caritas Ghana remains resolute in the great tradition of caring for the most vulnerable people living in poverty, displaced women and children, persons living with disability and other marginalized groups.”
According him, Caritas Ghana has made Comprehensive Emergency Response Interventions on Covid-19 with funding from the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Caritas Internationalis.
The Covid-19 Response Fund (CRF) has been adequately utilized and our commitments deepened with a greater reminder of the poor in the society. Other partnerships also enabled us to mobilize inter-faith Religious Leaders to influence social and behavioral change to safeguard individuals and communities against Covid-19.
Sharing his views at the November 12 webinar, Dr. Aloysius John, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis reiterated the Pope's message for the World Day of the Poor, saying that “It is call to do away with selfishness and extend love to the vulnerable poor.”
He lamented that COVID-19 has accelerated the poverty condition of many people where some have lost their jobs and source of livelihood through natural and manmade disasters.
“We need to join hands in solidarity with the poor,” he added, prompting that concrete measures must be undertaken to build good relationship with the poor.
Participating Speakers of the Webinar were the Most Rev. Joseph Osei Bonsu, Episcopal Chairman of Caritas Ghana, who called for more support for the indident poor amid COVID-19; Dr. Afisah Zakaria, Chief Director of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, who spoke extensively on government and the Ministry's interventions during the COVID-19 lockdown and after.
Also participating as speaker was Ms. Araba Martels Hughes, the Diocesan Youth Coordinator of the Catholic Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi, who touched how the youth can be involved in implementation of policies and responses related to COVID-19; and Sr. Regina Ignatia Aflah, HDR, the Coordinator for Human Rights and Justice for Caritas Ghana who touched on what her office was doing in the COVID-19 Response.
According to Sr. Aflah Caritas Ghana through the support of the faith community as well as the hard work, dedication and commitment of its team have not relented in living advancement of its motto inspired by 1 Timothy 6:18, “Good Works, Generosity and Sharing”.
“Under the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference (GCBC) nine (9) month National Response Plan for COVID-19 which started in March, 2020, Caritas Ghana was able to secure funding support from the Vatican, Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development/Caritas International's COVID-19 Response Fund, the French Embassy, the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), Catholic Relief Services, (CRS), STAR Ghana Foundation and the Government of Taiwan to enable us stretch our hand to the vulnerable in society,” she revealed.
She said with the help our donors, Caritas Ghana provided essential livelihood security services such as food, shelter, medicine for the poor and vulnerable and also fed indigenous population during the lockdown in Accra, Kasoa and Kumasi.
According to her, the humanitarian agency of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference provided technical and logistical support to Catholic Health facilities in form of soap, hand sanitizer, veronica buckets and face masks.
“To reduce both the risk and potential of community-level infections of Covid-19 in rural communities in Northern Ghana (Tamale, Wa and Navrongo-Bolgatanga Arch/Dioceses) Caritas staff embarked on awareness-raising campaigns,” she hinted.