Catholics in Padang in West Sumatra province donated blood on June 26 to prevent a potential shortfall resulting from Muslims observing Ramadan. Many Muslims refrain from making blood donations during the holy month as they consider it as breaking the fast. The event, to promote interfaith harmony, was organized by Padang Diocese's social arm and St. Francis of Assisi Church in Padangbaru in cooperation with the local chapter of the Indonesian Red Cross Society
. Doctor Widyarman, the head of the Red Cross' transfusion unit in Padang, said the organization usually provides 100 bags of blood each day to meet medical needs, but supplies drop during Ramadan because most people observe the fast. A donation drive prior to the start of Ramadan only collected 1,800 bags of blood, which was only good for 18 days, he said. "This kind of charity helps the Indonesian Red Cross maintain blood supplies for patients in Padang and its surrounding areas," he said. Father Henrikus Ngambut Oba, head of the diocesan interreligious commission, said Catholics who know what society needs and who do something about it deserve appreciation. "Of course we hope the blood donations will spark other activities in other fields such as education, the economy, and politics," Father Oba told ucanews.com. Faisal Zaini Dahlan, a lecturer at the Imam Bonjol State Institute for Islamic Studies in Padang, said helping others through blood donation during the month of Ramadan is a highly positive step and greatly appreciated. "It's such a beautiful gesture. When Muslims can't donate their blood, other communities step in to meet the need," he said. Paskalia Elnidaa parishioner at St. Francis Assisi Church she donated blood for the first time on June 26. "I was a bit nervous to begin with, but was happy to do so because I could do something for others in need," she said adding she now plans to give blood regularly.