By Kamran Chaudhry, Communications officer, Caritas Pakistan
As the country deals with the worst floods in decades, Caritas Pakistan observes 45 years of humanitarian efforts for the indigenous.
The staff of Caritas Pakistan National Secretariat marked Dec. 8 event with prayers at National office in Lahore. The solemn ceremony saw supplications for commitment to the mission and prayers for the flood victims. The United Nations department of Humanitarian Affairs says high level of malnutrition, as high as 40 percent in some parts of the country, are being observed.
Vatican Council II gave birth to the Catholic charity in Pakistan when Pope Paul VI handed over the first donation, a purse of US$ 10,000, to late Cardinal Joseph Cordeiro Archbishop of Karachi on Dec. 8 1965 at St. Peters Basilica in Rome. The National Secretariat was set up in Lahore and Rev. Marcel Roger Bishop of Lahore was appointed as the first National Director of Caritas Pakistan in April 1966.
“Since its conception, Caritas Pakistan was tested with crises like emergency relief to refugees of India-Pakistan war in 1965 and 1971. The development works continues to date with our active involvement in disaster management, both natural and man made, livelihood and health”, said Bishop Joseph Coutts, the National Director of Caritas Pakistan.
The government of Pakistan presented a certificate of commendation to the local unit of Caritas in Rawalpindi Islamabad diocese in recognition of “humanitarian services and generous undertaking” of rescue and relief efforts following the devastating 2005 earthquake.
The State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir also presented a shield of appreciation to the Caritas Pakistan team the same year. The government again presented certificate of appreciation to Caritas Pakistan team in Multan diocese for relief efforts in 2008 flash floods of southern Punjab province.
Caritas Pakistan plans to specially focus the rehabilitation of the survivors of the monsoon floods next year. Disasters, in particular, have brought us closer to local partners, different non government organizations and government officials. The social arm has developed good working relations with local Church in recent years”, Bishop Coutts added.
Anila J. Gill, Executive Secretary Caritas Pakistan, agreed. “Credibility and sustainability are the reason the organisation survived over a four decades in the country”, she said.