COVID Relief in Eritrea
One of the most isolated countries in the world, Eritrea was nonetheless hit hard by the coronavirus. Social services and transportation have ground to a halt, causing prices of even the most basic goods, such as bread, to skyrocket during the period of lockdown. CNEWA’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund was able to provide much-needed relief to the most vulnerable, especially those with special needs, the elderly and pregnant and nursing mothers. CNEWA has joined local health care personnel, distributing leaflets on sanitation, as well as procured grain, lentils and other food supplies for nearly 400 families.
Providing a Lifeline in India
As the coronavirus lockdown began in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Sagar in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, CNEWA rushed much-needed funds that served as a lifeline for those at greatest risk.
Funds provided dry ration kits; packets of prepared food; and masks and hygiene materials for thousands in need, including the elderly, the homeless, migrants, destitute women and others in mostly rural areas. Volunteers were also able to set up tailoring centers, creating about 1,500 masks a day — helping so many vulnerable members of some of India’s poorest communities.
Funds from CNEWA’s generous donors have assisted many of the social service organizations of the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Catholic churches’ agencies in India, and the impact has been significant. Our regional director, M.L. Thomas, forwarded a letter he received from the Rev. Matthew Vadakkekuttu, who directs the Prachodana Social Service Society in Delhi:
“Thank you for your timely support in feeding hundreds of hungry stomachs who had no one to support them. We thankfully received your generous support in feeding the underprivileged who are on the streets, and the poorest of the poor who are in the slums and have lost their daily wages. May God continue to bless all your endeavors.”
A Dose of Hope in Ethiopia
In August, CNEWA’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund helped deliver a measure of hope to a clinic in Metahara, Ethiopia, run by the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Our Lady. Located about 125 miles from the capital city of Addis Ababa, the clinic serves those most in need, especially single parents; some are H.I.V.-positive. They live hand-to-mouth, and during the pandemic lockdown, many could not work. With CNEWA’s support, the clinic staff was able to screen some 300 people and offer them basic supplies, including vegetable oil, wheat flour and soap, along with face masks and detergents. One elderly woman, who cannot walk because of an H.I.V.-related illness, said, “May the Almighty God reward those who remembered us and stretched their generous hands to fill our empty stomachs!”
CNEWA also sent funds to the Urban Community Center in Addis Ababa, administered by the Consolata Sisters. The sisters serve those no one else will, including some suffering from leprosy. CNEWA funds enabled the sisters to distribute food and sanitary items to some 750 families who were unable to work because of the lockdown. CNEWA also helped provide PPE items to priests in the northern Eparchy of Adigrat and helped arrange for liturgies to be televised to an estimated one million Catholics in the country.
Rushing Aid to Lebanon
CNEWA launched an emergency appeal hours after massive explosions rocked the port of Beirut on 4 August. With hospitals severely damaged and hundreds of thousands of people suddenly homeless — this, in the middle of a severe socioeconomic and political crisis and the coronavirus pandemic — the country is facing what the mayor of Beirut called “a national catastrophe.”
Thanks to the generosity of its donors, CNEWA has worked with local partners, including the St. Vincent de Paul Society and Caritas Lebanon, to distribute food and sanitary supply kits and offer spiritual and psychological support to many in need.
Even as it continues to provide this emergency relief, CNEWA’s Beirut-based team is assessing the long-term needs of Lebanon’s Christian communities, focusing on its schools and health care facilities. In early September, the Holy See’s Congregation for the Eastern Churches charged CNEWA and L’Oeuvre d’Orient, a Paris-based Catholic charity that has long partnered with CNEWA, to coordinate worldwide Catholic aid for Lebanon.
The crisis clearly will impact Lebanon for years. “Lebanon is on the brink of economic, political and social collapse,” reported Michel Constantin, CNEWA’s regional director in Beirut. He added that the government’s emergency supply of grain was lost in the explosion.
“This will not stop us from doing our work,” he said. “More than ever, the people of Lebanon need our help and, most especially, the help of the local and universal church.”
Welcome, Msgr. Peter Vaccari
CNEWA’s new president, Msgr. Peter I. Vaccari, took the helm in July. He has been busy, to put it mildly. Meet Msgr. Peter and get a firsthand account of what the last few months have entailed in his column, “Perspectives.”