A Catholic priest leads the funeral of a Covid-19 victim with Caritas volunteers known as Covid Samaritans in India. (Photo: Caritas India)
Caritas Internationalis, the confederation of Catholic charities around the world, has launched a new appeal for donations to help people in India reeling from a deadly second wave of Covid-19.
The appeal came as India passed 29.5 million coronavirus cases and over 374,000 deaths while recording more than 300,000 daily cases for weeks.
Caritas Internationalis released a video documentary featuring testimony from Jacob, a Caritas staff member from Dindigul in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state who emotionally describes the extreme plight of local communities with images of sick people gasping for life as they undergo treatment.
He also narrates how Caritas and church groups have been struggling to help people amid an acute shortage of resources including a lack of medical facilities and staff in hospitals.
Aloysius John, secretary-general of Caritas Internationalis, has praised dedicated Caritas staff like Jacob who are rendering great service despite extreme difficulties.
"This is what Caritas does: give everything without hesitation,” John said.
Caritas Internationalis wants to keep its promise to be in solidarity with the most affected and all people in need
“And this is what Jacob and all the other staff members and volunteers of Caritas India do every day: distribute food, masks, disinfectants and assist doctors even at the risk of their own lives, even when the situation becomes more complex every day and it seems that there is no hope.”
John noted that Caritas India launched an immediate humanitarian response to the pandemic, and thanks to the support of thousands of benefactors, it was possible to set up 28 first-level treatment centers and 58 second-level centers where 2,384 patients were helped by Caritas medical assistants.
Caritas India has also deployed many volunteers known as Covid Samaritans who support the needy by offering medical care, oxygen support, convalescence aid and comfort to lonely people.
The agency has also distributed more than 35,000 masks, 35,000 food kits and 22,000 medical kits.
"Caritas Internationalis wants to keep its promise to be in solidarity with the most affected and all people in need,” John said.
Last month, when India made global headlines due to its deadly second coronavirus wave, Father Paul Moonjely, executive director of Caritas India, appealed for global solidarity to respond to the crisis.
“The situation is so grim. People are flooding to the hospitals; the hospitals have no beds and people are just dying. Our frontline health workers and volunteers are working round the clock to keep up with the pace of health measures,” Father Moonjely said.
“Furnaces have melted down from overuse and additional funeral platforms are being built outside. Such are the heart-breaking messages and haunting images that highlight the terrible second wave of the coronavirus pandemic raging through the country. The Church in India has lost many of its faithful laity and religious brothers and sisters in their pursuit to serve the distressed population.”
Following the appeal, Caritas and church groups from various parts of the world responded with donations.
Caritas Humanitarian Aid and Relief Initiatives Singapore (CHARIS) raised more than S$300,000 (US$224,556) to provide monetary aid and supplies to India.
Caritas and Catholic charities from various corners of the globe including Caritas Australia have also launched appeals to help India.