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Indonesian Catholic youths reach out to virus-hit families

Group launches social movement calling on people to help support the needy during pandemic

Indonesian Catholic youths reach out to virus-hit families

A Catholic Youth activist in Bandung, West Java, gives aid items to a Muslim woman. (Photo: Edi Silaban)

An Indonesian Catholic youth organization has formed a solidarity movement where people are being encouraged to help support needy families during the coronavirus pandemic.

The "Adopt One Brother" movement, started by Catholic Youth, has spread to 26 of the country’s 34 provinces, according to Stefanus Asat Gusma, who heads up the group’s Covid-19 task force.

He said the movement involves thousands of Catholic Youth members scattered throughout Indonesia wanting to help poor people, especially those who had lost their jobs after restrictions on activities were imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"First, we mobilized our own members to help our fellow brothers and sisters who are experiencing difficulties. Then we extended our reach to anyone who was willing to help others,” Gusma told UCA News on April 23.

He said the group is signing up volunteers who will commit to donating 200,000 to 500,000 rupiah (US$12-32) per week for an affected family.

"After we receive their data, we contact them about where they would like their donations to go,” he said. “If a donor wants to donate to a family in East Nusa Tenggara province, we will coordinate with our members there to seek a family in need.” 

He said they have also distributed around 2,000 aid packages to families, as well as electricity vouchers and hand sanitizers in various regions, in coordination with local governments, dioceses and other religious groups.

Gusma said the movement wants to ignite broader public awareness about the plight of poor families. “We want others to act, not only through our organization but also individually or with other groups,” he said.

Maskendari, a Catholic Youth activist in Pontianak, West Kalimantan province, said they had carried out various activities to help struggling families as part of the movement.

"We have distributed hundreds of aid packages and thousands of personal protection items such as masks and bottles of hand sanitizer," he told UCA News.

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Meanwhile, Edi Silaban an activist in Bandung, West Java, has provided similar assistance to hospitals and orphanages as well as poor families and day laborers who had lost their income.

"We are coordinating with communities to seek those most in need," he said.

Gusma said the initiative will continue until the pandemic ends. "We want to show the importance of showing human solidarity in the midst of this current crisis," he said.

As of April 23, Indonesia had recorded 7,418 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 635 deaths.

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