A scavenger in Kedoya, Jakarta, receives a food package from the Sant’Egidio Community on Christmas Day. (Photo supplied)
Celebrating Christmas amid the Covid-19 pandemic for the Sant'Egidio Community in Indonesia saw the Catholic lay group reaching out and sharing the joys with marginalized and poor people in the Muslim-majority nation.
Risking their lives, community members distributed food and basic necessities on Christmas Day to scavengers, tricycle and pedicab drivers, the elderly, street children, disabled people and the homeless regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds.
This humanitarian effort not only took place in Jakarta but also in 15 other cities across the country, including Pontianak in West Kalimantan, Denpasar in Bali, Kupang in East Nusa Tenggara and Medan in Sumatra.
Unlike in previous years when Christmas lunches were held, this year the group chose to go to meet the people who have been affected badly by the pandemic on the streets or in their communities.
"Despite Covid-19, we continued our services on Christmas Day to share love," Eveline Winarko, a Sant’Egidio Community Indonesia coordinator, told UCA News.
The community was established in 1968 in Rome, Italy, by Andrea Riccardi. It has a network stretching across more than 70 countries around the world.
It arrived in Indonesia in 1990 and now has 16 chapters around the country with some 600 members.
With its motto "friendship with the poor," Sant'Egidio offers support services to the elderly, prisoners and the homeless.
It also runs what it calls a Peace School which provides support to families while offering a model of education open to the poor and without discrimination.
Winarko said the community in Jakarta visited Peace School students at their homes on Christmas Day instead of holding a mass event.
They also distributed food boxes to 150 homeless people on the streets in Central Jakarta and to 80 elderly people at St. Anna Nursing Home in Jakarta.
Food packages were also given to 380 unprivileged and unemployed people near its offices in West Jakarta.