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Caritas India awarded for Covid-19 efforts

Church's social wing is recognized for going the extra mile in helping the poor and marginalized

Caritas India awarded for Covid-19 efforts

A worker cleans a cinema hall in Chennai on Oct. 3 as part of preparations for a possible reopening after India's government eased lockdown restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. (Photo: AFP)

Caritas India, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India’s social wing, has bagged the award for the best non-governmental organization for healthcare services during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Federal Health Minister Harsh Vardhan presented the award to Father Paul Moonjely, director of Caritas India, on Oct. 2 in a virtual ceremony organized by media group India Today.

“The institutional strength of the Church as a humanitarian collective helped us to team up and reach out to the last mile with the amazing support of the church leadership,” Father Moonjely said in his message after receiving the award.

“I dedicate this award to all our Covid warriors, health workers and volunteers in different parts of the country at community and institutional levels.” 

The Healthgiri Awards 2020 acknowledged the invincible spirit of corona warriors who have led the battle against the pandemic. The awards are the reincarnated version of the Safaigiri Awards held annually on Gandhi Jayanti, the birth anniversary of the father of the nation.

This year’s event was held in the national capital to honor the pioneering efforts of corona warriors from all walks of life.

During the Covid-19 humanitarian response, Caritas India went the extra mile to show solidarity with and provide support for the vulnerable and marginalized sections of society. It adopted a strategy of “Be Informed, Be Trained, Be Cautioned, Be Connected and Be Compassionate” in line with Caritas Internationalis, Father Moonjely said.

As a strong collective, Caritas India’s partners and congregational institutions contributed to breaking the chain of spreading Covid-19 by sharing knowledge and resources and reaching out to the weak and marginalized communities, with interventions in four key areas: food support; health, hygiene and sanitation; psychosocial support; and creating awareness.

The priest also highlighted the virtual meeting it conducted in June to assess the Covid-19 situation with church leaders and stakeholders.

Documenting the experiences and faith responses, Father Moonjely said “it is important to share the message that the Catholic Church is vibrantly serving the people inspired by its faith.”

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Father Jolly Puthenpura, deputy director of Caritas India, informed the governing body about the support extended to the vulnerable in terms of community kitchens, food kits, hygiene and personal protective equipment kits, shelter and quarantine facilities as well as psychosocial support.

Founded in 1962, Caritas India is the official development arm of the Church in India. Caritas India is a member of the Caritas confederation of more than 160 member organizations working in nearly 200 countries, making it the second-largest humanitarian network in the world.

Over the past five decades, Caritas India has contributed significantly to nation building by supporting 22,945 projects to the tune of 13.73 billion rupees.

With a shift from charity and welfare mode to a rights-based approach, the strategic role of Caritas India has gone beyond funding projects to increasing the capacity of hundreds of development organizations to achieve greater levels of effectiveness while upholding organizational autonomy.


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