CAPC Response to COVID-19 in Pakistan
Like other countries, Pakistan also became a victim of Covid-19 and already poor people became the worst victims of this pandemic. Pakistan is already placed among the 25th poorest countries in the world. The poverty rate has increased in Pakistan from 34% to 39%. Over 64% of the population of Pakistan is living in poverty.
In the months of May and June 2021, the government of Pakistan imposed another lock down in many cities, both partially and fully, which greatly impacted the poor daily wagers and other laborers who suffered heavily due to fewer economic opportunities. Due to this, basic food provisions suffered drastically.
• Since the Covid 19 outbreak, the Youth Development Association managed to reach out to around 300 of the poorest families with rations as well as supplying 50 children with hygiene/school kits in the slums area. However, the need was still greater.
• CAPC then distributed food hampers to two hundred and fifty-two (252) of the most vulnerable & extremely poor families, including that of Sonia (murdered for refusing a marriage proposal of Muhamad Shahzad) and Azeem (gunned during an effort to build a church in a Muslim neighborhood) totaling around 1500 individuals including women and children. They fall under the categories of daily wagers, widows, persons with disabilities, and families with no bread winner, from Islamabad and Khushpur (a Christian village in the district of Faisalabad). These healthy food hampers consisted of essential dry rations, vegetables, wheat flour and masks; enough for 12 to 14 days for a family composition of 5/6-members.
Keeping in view the economic situation of the vulnerable Christians during the restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CAPC team then planned to provide food hampers to 500 vulnerable families in slum areas of Islamabad, Lahore and Faisalabad. The main objective of the project was to save vulnerable children, women, elderly and PWDs (people with disabilities) from starvation and death, or from falling prey to Covid due to weaker immune systems.
Food Packages and non-food items were supplied in generous quantities as well as covid related items such as masks and sanitizers.
CAPC was aided in this task by YDA (the Youth Development Association). These teams have both had prior experience as they have already implemented different projects in such slum areas. They were able to list 500 of the most deserving families and collect the basic information for the allowed entrance into the venues used. Distribution coupons were given out, and thumb prints or signatures were obtained.
Distribution took place in districts in Islamabad, Lahore and Faisalabad
1. The first distribution activity was conducted at Islamabad on July 1, 2021 and distributed the relief items among 200 families. The program was started with a thanksgiving prayer by Pastor Babar followed by an awareness training by Rubina Bhatti on Covid and the importance of being vaccinated. The program ended with prayer by a community member.
2. The second activity was organized at Tajpura Lahore, in collaboration with Minorites Alliance Pakistan & CAPC on July 28, 2021. Mr. Shamaoon Alfred Gill, Vice Chairperson of MAP, along with his team, was present and facilitated in the distribution. Speaking on the occasion he lauded efforts by CAPC and YDA for vulnerable families. He stated that MAP will always stand shoulder to shoulder with any organization which is working for the betterment of the people.
3. The third activity was executed at St. John’s Catholic Church, Youhanabad, Lahore on July 29, 2021. Rev. Fr. Francis Gulzar, the parish priest, was present at the occasion and he himself took care of all the arrangements despite the harsh weather. Speaking on the occasion, he expressed appreciation of CAPC, MAP and YDA for the timely intervention and assured his cooperation in the future, as well as for similar activities aimed at the welfare of the people experiencing such misery. He shared that these organizations had also come forward to help victims of the bomb blast on March 15, 2015 and offered special prayer for both organizations. Ms. Rubina Shaheen Bhatti, Executive Director YDA, thanked the management team of the parish and other volunteers as well
4. The fourth activity was organized at St. Peter & Paul Cathedral, Faisalabad, on August 3, 2021. His Lordship, Bishop Indrias Rehmat was the chief guest. Mr. Akmal Bhatti, Chairperson MAP (Minorities Alliance Pakistan), was also present. His Lordship expressed appreciation and thanked CAPC and YDA for their intervention and assured full cooperation in the future as well. Ms. Rubina Shaheen Bhatti, Executive Director YDA, thanked his Lordship for his support. She also thanked local volunteers for their efforts in reaching out to the unreached.
A write up of the distribution in the local newspaper!
5. The fifth activity was organized at Khushpur on August 4, 2021. Rev. Fr. Shahzad Francis, Parish Priest, Rev. Sr. Ester OP, principal St. Dominic Girls School, and Mr. Akmal Bhatti, Chairman Minorities Alliance Pakistan (MAP) were the guests of honor. The parish priest started the program with prayer and thanked CAPC and YDA for their frequent reaching out to people in distress. Rev. Sr. Ester OP shared that it is a matter of great joy to him that in every recent difficult time, CAPC and YDA have provided a means of happiness to the suffering people. Ms. Rubina Shaheen Bhatti, Executive Director YDA, also thanked this respected parish priest and the principal as well as all the volunteers and team members.
She shared that it is our responsibility to be with suffering people and we will carry on when and where the need emerges.
Both in receiving and giving, we had great people. May God continue to provide abundantly to those who care their less fortunate brothers and sisters in Christ.