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The year 2020 has been challenging around the globe, especially for developing countries. The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has created a global emergency. The spread of this pandemic and lockdown in Pakistan has pushed thousands of daily or hourly wage workers into unemployment. During this difficult time the underprivileged are facing malnutrition or starvation as result of losing their livelihood.
Our partner in Pakistan has been working with the vulnerable Christian community living in slums, that face intersectional marginalization. We have seen them struggling; either to manage sustenance (feed their families) or hold on to their hard-hit dreams/hopes and self-esteem. This intensified as during Christmas, ‘the time of festivity’, many approached with empty pockets. Our team partners our partners had identified 1500 of the most struggling families from different slums. Sensing the urgent need to combat the crippling effects of COVID 19 and share festivity, our partner (YDA) raised an appeal: “Feed the Poor, let them Know it’s Christmas Time” for at least 300 families. The appeal was responded to by CAPC, which financially supported us to create a meaningful social impact through providing Christmas Food Hampers.
Our partner (YDA), in collaboration with CAPC, has distributed food hampers to two hundred and fifty-two (252) of the most vulnerable & extremely poor families, including that of Sonia and Azeem (around 1500 individuals including women and children). They fall under the categories of daily wagers, widows, persons with disability, and families with no bread winner, from Islamabad and Khushpur (a Christian village the in district of Faisalabad). These healthy food hampers consisted of essential dry rations, vegetables, wheat flour and masks; enough for one week for a 5/6-member family.
- A Management committee was formed, consisting of (YDA) board members and youth volunteers from different slums, & responsibilities assigned
- The most deserving families were identified while working in the community during door-to-door visits, and liaison with different churches
- Beneficiary data was recorded, lists were formulated, and hamper tokens issued after verification by the volunteers
- Rations were procured after checking prices with 3 vendors, as well as assurance of timely provision.
- The Christmas food hamper distribution program was organized from 11.30am –3pm at a parking lot.
- Security and covid protocols were observed.
- Ration tokens were collected & signatures were taken from the beneficiaries to ensure identity and maintain transparency.
The distribution program in Islamabad was held on Wednesday, December 23rd from 11.30am till 3pm. Volunteer youth ensured safe distribution by watching over security, providing masks and sanitizer to everyone entering the venue. All the beneficiaries joined in the opening prayer, Christmas message, and the singing of carols. The pastor specifically highlighted the message of humility, peace, and compassion, as well as the need to spread hope, love, and peace amidst COVID 19 fears and despair. God’s special blessings were requested for each one who contributed either financially or otherwise, especially CAPC members for sharing the festivity. A Christmas program festivity is never complete without sharing a piece of Christmas cake and a cup of tea with the participants!
While the cake was cut, a team of volunteers went around collecting the food hamper tokens and verifying names with the already maintained lists. The hampers were delivered to everyone at their seats to avoid impatience and crowding.
The distribution Program in Khushpur was organized on Saturday, January 9th at a local school, from 11am till 2pm. Due to a previous rain, the streets were muddy and difficult for mobility. It was a cold foggy day, which made things little slower. The earliest we could start was at 2pm. The parish priest, Fr. Francis Shahzad and the nuns, were also present. Local social activists and MAP members volunteered. Covid protocols were again strictly followed and seating at a safe distance was ensured. Fr Shahzad said the opening prayer and thanked God for all the generous people who help make such things happen for the poor. Mr Gill introduced CAPC and its mission. He requested everyone’s prayers for the brothers and sisters who, although they are oceans apart, are connected to us in Christ, and have not forgotten the marginalized Pakistani Christians during this pandemic. Fifty (50) food hampers were distributed. Cake and tea were also offered to everyone at the program.
Despite manifold difficulties: a tight deadline, harsh weather and a challenging traveling situation, the following comments give us heart satisfaction and peace of mind: that God has used us to spread joy. We were able to bring festivity into the midst of fear and helplessness. Sharing & gratitude multiplies our joy and love, and cultivates peace. Thanks to all the generous donors and our volunteers, without whom sharing this festivity would not have been possible.
A FEW COMMENTS FROM THE BENEFICIARIES
“Thank you so much, you have made our feast. No one has given such a nutritious & healthy ration package before. May God bless you more!” Roseline Gamaniel, Khushpur
“My husband is a daily wage earner, and he is having problems in finding work. We are thankful to God that we will not have to go to sleep hungry. My family and I are very thankful for this timely support for Christmas” Shakila Tariq, Rimsha Colony, Islamabad
My daughter and I are both widows living together. I have been jobless for the last few months and had used up the small saving I had. I was afraid of what I would be able to do at Christmas. This is like a miracle for me” Irshad Bibi, Kachi Basti, G7
- After much difficulty in getting the money in hand, the deadline to deliver rations before Christmas Eve created a lot of stress.
- The weather was very cold and foggy (zero visibility, the national highway closed for hours for all traffic), all of which made traveling to Sahiwal & Khushpur risky and extremely slow (30/40 km per hour).
- The distribution in Khushpur could not be organized before Christmas.
- The volunteers were also Christians and needed at least a good festive Christmas dinner after all the work they did.
Islamabad Food Hamper Distribution, Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020
Khushpur Food Hamper Distribution – Saturday, January 9th, 2021