Who we are
Caritas Asia is one of the seven Regional Offices under the Confederation of Caritas Internationalis (CI). Its establishment came about when the Asian members of the confederation decided to establish a regional office in Asia, during the General Assembly of CI in 1999 in Rome. With the endorsement and approval of the CI General Assembly on the same year, Caritas Asia was subsequently constituted as the regional office of the CI confederation in Asia. Since then, CA has been serving as the regional coordinating office of all the member organizations operating in countries and territories in the Asian continent.
Where we are in Asia
“THOUGHTS AND SPIRIT CAN GO FAR WITH THE CREATIVITY OF LOVE”
An exchange of stories and experiences of Caritas COVID-19 Response in Asia Region
Caritas Asia, in collaboration with Caritas Internationalis, hosted a regional webinar on Caritas COVID-19 Response in Asia on August 19th, 2020 at 3 – 5 pm (Thailand Time). The webinar was organized to acknowledge great works done by Caritas member organizations in Asia in this challenging time by providing a space for sharing of best practices and experiences on COVID-19 humanitarian response. Moreover, the webinar is organized to celebrate the World Humanitarian Day (celebrated each year on August 19th) and is intended to deepen the ongoing discussion of localization in Caritas Asia.
Dr. Richard Win Tun Kyi of Caritas Myanmar, as the webinar moderator, welcomed 44 participants out of 66 registrants who represented Asian Member Organizations, Caritas Internationalis, MONA and Africa Regional Secretariats and Caritas Global Partners in the meeting.
His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis, opened the webinar by inviting the meeting participants to reflect on Caritas work in responding to the pandemic that it is not merely a task or a function but it is how Caritas members are living out of spirituality. His Eminence also reminded us to keep the human face alive in this crisis because human beings are at stake in this pandemic time.
Caritas Internationalis Secretary General, Mr. Aloysius John, shared Pope Francis’ message that Chuch should be present as a symbol of hope, care and attention to those who are suffering. Mr. Aloysius John continued to share on how the pandemic affected all aspects of human lives, including humanitarian sector. He said that we need to re-think, re-imagine and re-start the humanitarian work in the new context.
Caritas Asia invited Ms. Suzanna Tkalec of Caritas Internationalis, Fr. Edwin Gariguez of Caritas Philippines and Mr. Ranjon Francis Rozario of Caritas Bangladesh as the panelists of the webinar. They shared that despite the hardships, the uncertainties, and the miseries that COVID-19 has brought upon us, Caritas organizations have made this crisis to be a particular time to build the civilization of love and make a gesture of tenderness towards those who suffer.
They have reminded us that our works, no matter how difficult they are, are always deeply rooted on our values that very much resonate the Catholic Social Teaching. Through this webinar, we have also been given an opportunity to learn and share with one another our best practices, experiences and opportunities in responding to COVID-19, as wel as the challenges that we continue to face and the possible ways on how we can mitigate them.
Additionally in this webinar, the panelists also looked into how localization plays an important part in our response to the pandemic. The responses from Caritas Philippines and Caritas Bangladesh highligthed that most of our humanitarian response to COVID-19 requires the active involvement of local leaders, communities and individuals, especially in this time where physical movements are very limited.
In his closing remarks, Dr. Benedict Alo D’Rozario, Caritas Asia President, reminded the meeting participants to take this World Humanitarian Day celebration to keep ourselves reminded that COVID-19 response is not just simply responding to those in need, but also fulfilling Caritas mission to spread love and witness the Gospel.
Dr. Alo thanked all panelists, speakers and participants. Despite the limited time, Dr. Alo emphasized the importance of this platform for Caritas Member Organzations in Asia to reflect the spirituality of our actions and to prepare for the way forward. In this time when our “old normal” has been replaced by the “new normal”, it is important that our Confederation keeps abreast of the changing situation of our societies and be ready to face the new challenges evolving from the pandemic, while also continuously finding new and innovative ways of maximizing and making better use of our existing and developing opportunities.
Besides discussion in the webinar, Caritas Asia regional secretariat and some member organizations also celebrated the World Humanitarian Day through social media posts throughout the week. The posts were intended as an acknowledgement of the great works done by Caritas staffs and volunteers in responding to COVID-19 based on their capacity and contexts.
We are very pleased to share with you that Caritas Malaysia has joined the Caritas family. Aloysius John, Caritas Internationalis General Secretary, stated that the presence of Caritas Malaysia will certainly contribute to the dialogue of life through its projects and other activities in the animation of the Christian community and wider Malaysian society.
In the midst of COVID-19, Caritas Malaysia distributed relief items for affected persons and families in need in Sabah, Serawak and Semenanjung.
We invite you all to welcome Caritas Malaysia as part of our family in the Asia region and we are certainly looking forward to working together with the Caritas Malaysia team in the future.
Find more about Caritas Malaysia on their official accounts:
In these extremely difficult times of the CoVID-19 pandemic, I sincerely pray for all of us to keep safe and healthy, not just for the sake of our own wellbeing, but also for those whom we love and serve. Now, more than ever, we are all called to pray for the healing power of Christ and ask for the grace to live in order to serve.
As our Caritas Member Organizations in Asia and in other parts of the world are proactively implementing measures to curtail the further spread of this global health crisis, while also taking appropriate initiatives to help governments and communities cushion the rapidly intensifying effects of CoVID-19, I would like to express Caritas Asia’s heartfelt support and solidarity with you and your families. We are aware of the challenges that you are facing during this global crisis, but at the same time, we are also conscious of the many great efforts that many of you are initiating, to help ease the difficulties of our brothers and sisters in your respective countries and regions.
Our Caritas family, particularly in Asia, is considered essential during this time of crisis, as we are among the key players in helping communities, as well as a critical player in responding to the needs of the poor and vulnerable. Caritas Asia is extremely grateful to all of you for all the noble deeds you are doing in helping our suffering brothers and sisters in the region, while also taking significant steps to safeguard and protect our own Caritas family, by adhering to the strict precautionary measures that are aligned with the guidelines of the World Health Organization and as per the instructions of your respective governments.
Caritas Asia also stands in solidarity and support with the doctors, nurses, medical staff, and all other individuals, who have been working tirelessly to help patients, despite the grave danger of getting the virus themselves during the performance of their duties. We salute the courage and perseverance of these health professionals, who sacrifice their own safety, in order to save lives during this battle against CoVID-19. We offer our heartfelt gratitude and prayers for these incredible men and women for their compassion, perseverance, and their heroic sacrifices to protect and heal our communities.
As we observe the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ during this Holy Week, let us all be ever more united in prayer that we may continue to find courage and open our hearts to the love of Christ, so that we can feel the consolation of God during these extremely challenging times. Let us reflect on the words of the Holy Father Pope Francis in his Palm Sunday message:
“So, in these holy days, in our homes, let us stand before the Crucified One, the fullest measure of God’s love for us, and before the God who serves us to the point of giving his life, and let us ask for the grace to live in order to serve. May we reach out to those who are suffering and those most in need. May we not be concerned about what we lack, but what good we can do for others.”
I wish you all a blessed Triduum and a very Happy Easter!
Benedict Alo D’Rozario
Caritas Asia Regional President
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”
Two days International conference was organized in Yangon on 24 & 25th January 2020 to discuss how the church can engage effectively in addressing the most heinous crime against humanity. The Conference brought together the different church agencies like Santa Marta Group, Caritas Internationalis, Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference, International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), Migrants and Refugees Section from Dicastery on Integral Development to discuss and plan how we can better fight against trafficking in persons and do it in cooperation with different stakeholders. For Caritas Asia, it was a great platform to share the work at the international level with other sister organizations.
The conference began with the opening mass by Most Rev. Lumen Monteiro, Bishop of Agartala, Chairman of Caritas India along with His Eminence Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, from Yangon and His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of Santa Marta Group. Cardinal Vincent Nichols in his keynote address said that “we need to give first place to the victim. Our approach should be victim-centric and keep the victim at the heart of all our intervention because the victim bears the mind of Christ.” He added that the work against trafficking must be carried forward in partnership and that’s why we are here to build the partnership among Church agencies.
The root causes for unsafe migration and trafficking is extreme poverty, lack of birth certificate and other important documents, business which looks at the only profit and the demand side, said Mgs. Robert Vitillo. There are also other causes like conflicts that make people vulnerable to leave their country and land.
The Social Welfare Minister from Myanmar presented that they have singed MoU between Thailand and Myanmar to prevent unsafe migration and labor exploitation. The work by the government was much appreciated by all.
International Organization for Migration called the Church to focus on collecting the evidence, strategy, and coordination and improving the programs that are implemented. The Church can engage with international law enforcement agencies to combat human trafficking.
Caritas India had an opportunity to present the work against human trafficking at the conference focusing on trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced marriage. Ms. Leeza shared that Caritas India is working at the Indo Nepal border with international as well as internal trafficking in persons and unsafe migration. In the last one year, 62 girls have been provided with a short stay at the transit home located in Nepalganj, Nepal. Caritas India works very closely with Sahastra Seema Bal (border force), local police and Non-Government Organizations. An Indo Nepal Cross Border Forum has been initiated to bring the different stakeholders to strengthen the rescue, referral and repatriation process.
The conference provided the platform for the Caritas Asia team to come together and discuss their plan of action. South Asia team got together along with the Asia coordinator and discussed the ways to strengthen the coordination between the countries of South Asia. Hence, it was suggested to have a meeting in the month of February in Nepal to take the process forward. It was decided that Ms. Leeza from Caritas India will lead the coordination process along with focal persons from Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The key action points that came out of the conference were-
The conference also invited us to look at our own ways of purchasing and use of things in our day to day life. How can we prevent human trafficking by taking a small step?
“The truth is, slavery touches the lives of most of us in this room every day through the supply chains of the goods and services we purchase. Do you own a phone or a computer? Clothing? Shoes? Do you drink coffee or tea? Do you wear jewelry or makeup? Do you buy seafood, pet food, meat, fruit, and vegetables or eat fast food? You and I cannot deny that we benefit from the exploitation of other human beings largely because they are invisible to us.” (John McCarthy Chair Sydney Archdiocesan Anti-Slavery Taskforce)
The words of Cardinal inspired me and made me reflect when he said, “Trafficked Drug is used only once but trafficked person is used again and again and again.”
A reflection by Dr. Benedict D’ Rozario, President of Caritas Asia
Retreat can be, His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said, of two types - one is of total silence.
“Do you want a Retreat of total silence?”, he asked us the participants coming from the Asian Countries.
"No", said I, without thinking much.
So, in our daily schedule of three-days Retreat on 7-9 October 2019 at the Camillian Centre, Bangkok had an important item - Group Sharing - after supper, from 8 pm. The daily schedule had also sessions followed by individual reflection besides prayers, Rosary and Holy Mass. Caritas Directors in Asia as participants had their best three days with reflection and recollection with the help, guidance and sharing of His Eminence Cardinal Tagle. His Eminence Cardinal Tagle based his sharing on the Homily (on 23 May 2019) of the Holy Father for the participants for the 21st Caritas Internationalis General Assembly and the Address during audience (on 27 May 2019) of His Holiness Pope Francis to Participants of the same General Assembly.
During the three days of Retreat in Bangkok through different sessions and homilies His Eminence Cardinal Tagle helped the participants to understand the deeper meaning of what His Holiness Pope Francis wanted to say using the following words and phrases:
His Eminence Cardinal Tagle 's sharing on commodity and personal views of life from the book - Following Christ in a Consumerist Society by John F. Kavanaugh - was very inspiring. This book helps us to know how culture of consumerism shape our views of life ignoring totally the personalism of the Gospel. At the end of the third day His Eminence Cardinal Tagle wanted us to reflect individually on what influences us the most - that I am a person and a gift from the God or I am an object? Do we accept everyone as a gift from the God? Everything as a gift from Him? I must ponder for days for the questions herein and other similar questions through which he challenged us all.
Sincere thanks and deep gratitude to His Eminence Cardinal Tagle.
Caritas Asia organized a 3-days regional retreat for Asian Caritas Directors and was attended by 36 Participants of 21 MOs, Church in Malaysia, and M&R Section from 7-9 October 2019 at Camilian Center, Thailand.
Caritas Asia once again participated in the 3rd National Interfaith Forum Against Human Trafficking in Cambodia. This forum, which was organized jointly by Caritas Cambodia, and the national government of Cambodia, is probably one of the successful examples of multi stakeholders collaboration in the region where the national government, non-government organizations, and faith leaders work tirelessly together promoting awareness on combatting human trafficking.
The 3rd Interfaith Forum was held in Phnom Penh on 14 August 2019 which attracted approximately 1,700 participants from the royal government of Cambodia, NGOs, Caritas family and the four main religious groups in Cambodia. Besides exhibition, official ceremony and key note speeches, the forum this year added a solidarity walk from Botum Vordtey Pagoda towards the main venue at Koh Pich building.
In his speech, Caritas Asia President, Dr. Benedict D’Rozario, emphasized on the fact that poverty is one of the main causes of human trafficking, which we can overcome by well-planned development interventions including education, health and livelihood supports and employment creation through skills and vocational training. This message was reiterated by Samdech Krola Hom Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and the Chair of National Committee to Counter Trafficking in Persons (NCCT), who added the need to strengthen law enforcement, government commitment and involvement, and co-operation from all relevant sectors.
Approximately 37 participants of Caritas family of 13 Caritas Members Organizations in Asia and 9 church organizations in Asia and Australia joined the forum and was combined with exposure and learning visits in the next day. Participants of Caritas family visited and learned from NCCT, Ministry of Social Affairs, Cambodian Women Crisis Center and Agape International Mission on the national initiatives to combat human trafficking from the perspectives of government and non-government organizations.