Category Archives: Volunteers

Caritas Lebanon celebrates its young volunteers

400 Caritas Lebanon young volunteers came together Sunday to celebrate their work. Credit: Caritas Lebanon

400 Caritas Lebanon young volunteers came together Sunday to celebrate their work. Credit: Caritas Lebanon

By Caritas Lebanon

Under the theme “Live with us… You’ll understand”, around 400 Caritas Lebanon young volunteers gathered in the Saint Joseph Theater (Cornet Chehwan) on Sunday 26 May 2013, in presence of His Eminence Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of Congregation for Oriental Churches, the Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon, Bishop Gabriele Caccia, Antelias Maronite Bishop Camille Zeidan and Caritas Lebanon President Fr. Simon Fadoul. Members of the Bureau, the Regions and the Sectors, as well as Caritas Director and National Chaplain also attended the ceremony.

Many activities followed Caritas Youth coordinator and MC Elie Kadamani’s word of welcome. On several occasions, Sector Rmeil young volunteers performed a spiritual dance to the jingle “Live with us… You’ll understand!” to teach it to participants, and a spiritual scene was played by Saida Sector’s volunteers. The Tripoli Hip Hop Revolution Troupe presented scenes and songs describing young people’s life in Tripoli and how they use art to deal with the Jabal Mohsen and Bab el Tebbaneh battles. Also, one documentary on Caritas Lebanon’s programs and another on its activities for the youth as well as two video clips prepared by North Bekaa Sector were screened.

A few testimonies were given during the meeting. First, actors Georges Khabbaz and Wissam Hanna insisted on the importance of volunteering in someone’s life. Then, Sabine Bahout (Rmeil Sector) and Antonio Mouawad (Zghorta-Zawieh Sector) talked about their experience as volunteers for Caritas Lebanon. Last, Therese Imad said that being part of Caritas’s volunteers taught her to thank the Lord for everything she owns.

Cardinal Sandri invited young men and women to be “protagonists of history” and reminisced the night vigil that took place in Bkerkeh during Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI visit to Lebanon, saying: “The intensity of this prayer was like a beam of light directed towards the Middle Eastern sky, a sky that many wish to see full of dark clouds of violence and war. That day, we were all able to say: “Yes, there is hope, there is light because all these young people are carrying it. Through faith and joy, they aim at building a future made of peace and reconciliation.”

During mass, that was animated by Saint John Choir (Bauchrieh), Fr. Faddoul stressed on the importance of the humanitarian role played by Caritas Lebanon and expressed his desire to see the start of a joint venture between both the catholic and orthodox youth. “Today, it is very important for all Christians to unite, not only to live charity but also to build peace and reconciliation”, he added.

Last, each young volunteer committed themselves to recruit at least one candidate, in order to better serve people in need nationwide.

Vis avec nous… Tu comprendras ! Rencontre des Jeunes de Caritas Liban
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Filed under Français, Lebanon, Middle East & North Africa, Volunteers

A decade in Darfur: Call me Actcaritas

"Actcaritas" (otherwise known as Abakar and "Condoleezza Rice". Credit: Laura Sheahen/Act Caritas

“Actcaritas” (otherwise known as Abakar) and his relative “Condoleezza Rice”. Credit: Laura Sheahen/Act Caritas

Seldom has a joint programme between aid agencies made such a personal impression on an employee, but the partnership of ACT Alliance and Caritas—Protestants and Catholics helping Darfur–struck a cord with an aid worker in the region. Here, he describes why he likes his nickname.

My real first name is Abakar. But everyone calls me “Actcaritas.” I like it. When I go to the camps for displaced people, they all call me “Actcaritas.” My real name is lost.

I am logistics fleet assistant. I buy diesel in the market and take it to the camps. We use it to run the water systems, so the people have water. We used to need 30 drums of fuel for all the camps. Now that the programme has built solar-powered water stations, we use less fuel.

ACT/Caritas has supported NCA [Norwegian Church Aid] for a long time in Darfur. There were always very strong here. And they gave us a holiday bonus. ACT/Caritas is a quality donor.

My shirt has the ACT and Caritas logos. Any day I wear this shirt, I am happy. But this shirt is wearing out. It’s been five years.

This girl is my relative. Her mother calls her only by her nickname: Condoleezza Rice.

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Filed under Africa, Conflicts and Disasters, Disaster Preparedness, Emergencies, Emergencies in Darfur and South Sudan, Peacebuilding, Sudan, Volunteers

Volunteers in Jordan help with influx of Syrian refugees

Caritas Jordan volunteers packing aid for Syrian refugees in at the Caritas centre in Mafraq. Photo by Caritas Jordan.

By Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Jordan staff

“I like to help others,” said Madleen Qandah, a 21 years old mathematics student in Mafraq. She is volunteering with Caritas Jordan as it aids Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their own country. “I just put myself in the refugees’ shoes and treat them how I would like to be treated in the same situation,” she said.

Around 500 refugees arrive a day in Jordan according to various relief agencies. The Jordanian government says the number of Syrian refugees in the country has surpassed 110,000 people.

The influx of Syrians is putting huge pressures on the Jordanian economy and housing capacity. The country is also hosting 450,000 Iraqi refugees according to the government, who fled the conflict in Iraq that began in 2003.

Working mainly in Mafraq, Caritas Jordan teams have provided 500 families with aid such as heaters, bedding, towels, plastic mats, sanitary pads, jerry cans, milk, school and kits, hygienic kits and food since December 2011. Continue reading

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Filed under Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Emergencies in Syria, Jordan, Middle East & North Africa, Peacebuilding, Syria, Volunteers

Pope says volunteering sign of God’s love

Caritas Turkey volunteers help communities near Van hit by last month's earthquake. Credit: Caritas Turkey

Pope Benedict XVI says that through volunteering “we also become visible instruments of his love in a world that still profoundly yearns for that love amid the poverty, loneliness, marginalization and ignorance that we see all around us.”

The pope was addressing 160 bishops and representatives of charitable organisations from 25 countries here in Rome for a two-day meeting on volunteering sponsored by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum held in conjunction with the European Year of Volunteering.

Among the audience were staff from various European Caritas members and the Caritas Internationalis Secretary-General Michel Roy. Caritas members benefit from the services over 500,000 volunteers around the world.

The pope said that volunteering shows that goodness is growing . He thanked the European volunteers and “the millions of Catholic volunteers who contribute, regularly and generously, to the church’s charitable mission throughout the world.”

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Volunteering for better communities

Caritas Germany's volunteer programme Credit: Albert Josef Schmidt

Caritas Internationalis Delegate Joseph Cornelius Donnelly reports from Bonn.

More people everywhere are falling further into poverty and many into extreme poverty. Social situations where we live demand we respond as individuals with clear role to build up communities. People are needed more than only dollars and sense. Civil society organising is natural product of humanity. Dedication builds public confidence. Mobilises possibilities into concrete actions.

Caritas Germany and its partners from the International Association for Voluntary Effort (IAVE) hosted a workshop on volunteering this week in Bonn at the UN’s annual NGO conference. The conference’s theme of sustainable societies and responsive citizens looks towards next June’s RIO+20 global summit.

The Caritas-IAVE workshop focused on volunteering worldwide, the ‘International Year of Volunteers+1’0, church and civil society and how Caritas and parishes support active citizenship, for example through the project ‘Building Platforms for Citizens’.

Caritas Internationalis moderated a dynamic discussion with a packed house over 90 minutes.

The crisis of the state-based social welfare system has strengthened the search for new forms of solidarity. The newly formed ‘civil society’ understands itself as an engaging social state. It needs to work to mobilize social responsibility for the weakest members of the society.

Social policy builds on the charity potential of the churches. A research project called “Diakonia in the Living Space of Human Beings” gives strategic and practical details about possibilities and limits of engagement, with analysis of local projects and effects on communities for improved quality of life.

The Caritas partner at the University of Munster, Franciscan scholar, Fr. Udo Friedrich Schmatzle, demonstrated how it is in citizens’ own interests to improve their community. This happens best via community organising. Involvement effects change far better than pointing fingers or relying on burdened city councils. This model repeats itself beyond Germany. It generates solidarity, linked to the common good, multiplying motivation for change. [Read Fr. Udo Friedrich Schmatzle’s Church and civil society]

Both Head of the Volunteer Sector for Caritas Germany, Dr. Eugen Baldas and his Korean colleague, Dr. Kang-Hyun Lee, President of IAVE, highlighted examples of civic engagement and voluntary action for achieving sustainability across the world. The workshop itself was a room full of volunteers from Pakistan to Nigeria, New York City to Bonn, Milwaukee to Manila, Italy to Ireland.

Presenters challenged: “Get in there. See what you can see. Listen closely to people not just assessing needs.” Do what you can from the ground up.  Recognise costs, human and fiscal, visible and invisible.

“I will do it” transforms community into “We will do it” so that the common good grows change. Be simple, direct, have vision, grow communal vitality. Empower people. “We must go into the little places and meet the people.” As ever – never doubt what a difference each person can make.

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Volunteering for Caritas Japan

Yuzo Akai (middle, left-hand side) discusses the next steps of Caritas Japan's emergency response to help the survivors of the tsunami and earthquake. Credit: Caritas Japan

By Yuzo Akai

I’ve been a volunteer for Caritas for just over a week. I live in Sendai with my mother and four cats. Normally, I study American modern history at graduate school and I’m a part-time instructor in a college, but that has all changed for the moment following the earthquake and tsunami.

As I am a Catholic I decided to help Caritas Japan in their earthquake relief effort. It gives me great pride to be part of an effort based on Catholic teaching.

The power of the earthquake was a big shock to us – all that shaking! But what has really surprised me is the big difference between the stricken areas and the safe areas, where buildings aren’t even damaged. The most serious damage was not from the earthquake, but from the tsunami. Such a fine line has divided people’s fates. In some small areas there are two different worlds living side by side – one of complete destruction, and one where every looks normal. Continue reading

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Filed under Asia, Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Japan, Volunteers

Volunteers providing hope in Haiti

By Christine Decker, Caritas Germany

Today, we are heading to Léogâne. On the map, it is about 40 km away from Port-au-Prince. We leave at 8:00 a.m. The trip takes roughly one and a half hours. I have seen several other disaster areas before, but even to me, this here is a terrifying sight.

The situation is horrifying in many senses. There are endless mountains of rubble and rubbish alongside the road. People have piled up the rubble from houses that were destroyed on 12 January. It now forms a mile-long central strip on the road. Here and there, you can spot the remains of people’s property: a shoe, a torn shirt, some chair legs. It’s rubbish now.
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Filed under Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Emergencies in Haiti, Europe, Germany, Volunteers