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Jakarta Catholics and Muslims unite to offer Ramadan aid

Marginalized groups to receive food throughout holy month thanks to interreligious project

Jakarta Catholics and Muslims unite to offer Ramadan aid

Nahdlatul Ulama volunteers load food packages onto a pickup truck at the Daya Dharma Institute to be distributed to marginalized groups in Jakarta. (Photo courtesy of Nahdlatul Ulama)

Jakarta Archdiocese and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest moderate Islamic organization in Indonesia, have teamed up to help marginalized people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic during Ramadan.

Under the project “Your Ramadan, My Ramadan,” NU Social Care and Jakarta Archdiocese’s Daya Dharma Institute have started distributing food packages from April 24 to May 25 to marginalized Muslims as predawn and breakfast meals.

Muslims across the world mark Ramadan by fasting for a month, and this year it started in Indonesia on April 24 and will end with Eid al-Fitr on May 24. However, authorities have instructed Muslims to fast and pray in their homes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

An aid post has been established at the institute’s office where food packages and prayer items for Muslims have been stored.

They will be distributed to online delivery drivers, scavengers, the jobless, homeless, disabled and elderly as well as to Islamic boarding schools and orphanages.

“We and the NU are friends. Whenever there is a natural disaster, we always work together in emergency response and disaster mitigation,” Jesuit Father Christopher Kristiono Puspo, director of the Daya Dharma Institute, told UCA News.

“When it comes to humanity, we have the same vision, have one heart and mind.”

He said Covid-19 has impacted all sectors and severely hit marginal and vulnerable groups. Since March, the Church has worked with NU volunteers to distribute food to people.

"As Muslims enter their holy month, we want to build solidarity with them in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

He said Daya Dharma will also work with other Islamic groups during Ramadan to distribute food in cooperation with the police, military and community chiefs.

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Aryo Sanjaya of the Nahdlatul Ulama in Jakarta welcomed the Church’s help during Ramadan. "We have the same concern — to help people in need," Sanjaya told UCA News.   

Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta hoped the food would be meaningful to those who receive it.

"To my Muslim brothers and sisters, I sincerely congratulate you as you enter the holy month of Ramadan,” Cardinal Suharyo said. “May the fasting you perform be a blessing to our nation, country and humanity.”   

Father Antonius Benny Susetyo, a member of a presidential unit promoting communal tolerance, said such cooperation is a realization of “true brotherhood.”

“Pope Francis has asked Catholics to be active in realizing the spirit of the Abu Dhabi Declaration signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Ahmed At-Tayyeb,” he told UCA News.

The declaration on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together was issued on Feb 4, 2019, during the pope’s visit to the United Arab Emirates. 

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