Caritas Philippines (NASSA) has put their heart and soul into accompanying the poorest of the poor communities through the challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic. According to the national government, there are more than 100 million Filipinos greatly affected by lockdown enforced due to COVID-19.
In a creative response to the restrictions of social distancing and the lockdown, which forced Caritas staff to stay at home, Caritas has set up Kindness Stations in communities in thirty dioceses across the Philippines.
With the instruction to “take what you need, leave some for others, and give what you can”, Caritas wants to create “ripples of hope” that permeate communities at this challenging time.
Julian, a senior citizen from Sorsogon, came to the Kindness Station in his village over two weeks after it was set up. He was very hesitant because he thought he wasn’t qualified. He waited outside and asked a lot of questions to everyone coming from the station.
When he felt he was ready, he went back to his house, climbed a coconut tree, and went back to the kindness station with several delicious coconuts for sharing.
“I’m just a poor farmer,” he told Caritas staff. “I often rely on people giving me food. This is the only time I’ve felt I’m important and that I too have something to share – even if they are just coconuts.”
Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of NASSA/Caritas Philippines, says community-based efforts have to be created because the operations of humanitarian organizations are paralyzed due to the lockdown.
“We need to de-centralize the giving of assistance,” Father Gariguez said. “We need to mobilize communities to help the most needy and vulnerable members.”
Caritas Philippines is also dedicating efforts to providing food bags and hygiene kits to poor families and offers its solidarity to frontline workers such as volunteers, medical personnel, delivery men, security personnel, and other unsung heroes through this song and dance.