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Indonesian Catholics raise funds for Covid-hit schools

Caritas Christmas Cross Challenge allows participants in a virtual sporting event to donate cash

Indonesian Catholics raise funds for Covid-hit schools

Children attend classes at Good Shepherd Catholic Elementary School in Abepura, Papua, in this 2018 file photo. (Photo: Ryan Dagur/UCA News)

A Catholic group in Indonesia is organizing a fundraising campaign to help schools in remote areas experiencing financial difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Caritas Christmas Cross Challenge 2020 (or 4C) campaign is a virtual sporting event that allows participants to give money to Catholic schools.

Participants donate manually or electronically by ATM, mobile banking, credit card, e-wallet or other payment tools.

This program, driven by the Indonesian Jesuit Alumni Association (AAJI), supports the educational assistance program run by Caritas Indonesia in collaboration with the Education Commission of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference, the Economic Empowerment Commission and Jakarta Archdiocese's Daya Dharma Institute. 

"We are optimistic that this grassroots movement will run well because it has been greeted enthusiastically by many parties, including church clergy and religious," said Christiano Hendra Wishaka, head of the organizing committee, at the launch of the program on Nov. 16.

He said nearly 2,000 runners had registered, including clergy and nuns.

Running for six weeks up until Dec. 30, the campaign is supported by Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo, the archbishop of Jakarta, chairman of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference.

"Hopefully all of us, in our way, with different roles, will be moved to get involved and hopefully this program will be effective, meaningful, especially for the world of education and for our brothers and sisters who serve in the field of education in Indonesia’s remote areas,” said Cardinal Suharyo. 

"Our motto is to have more faith, more fraternity and more compassion. Let us show the dynamics of life like that in our participation in this program.” 

Father Vinsensius Darmin Mbula, a member of the bishops’ Education Commission, said the Covid-19 pandemic has caused economic difficulties for many families and it has an impact on schools because tuition payments have been delayed. 

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He explained that the commission provides financial assistance directly to schools who require help with teacher salaries. "They send a proposal which is then verified by the team," he told UCA News.

Aventius Arut, a teacher at a Catholic elementary school in Ruteng Diocese, East Nusa Tenggara province, said he hoped the program would reach their school.

"We in the village find it difficult to survive amid the limited facilities and infrastructure. We hope that the solidarity of people with good intentions can help us,” he said. 

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