Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - "We must work in unity to overcome the challenges that people are facing in this global Covid-19 pandemic. Let us open our hearts and work to reach and serve people in need, without making any difference, regardless of one’s faith, ethnicity or social status": says Cardinal Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Karachi, to Agenzia Fides, inaugurating a food distribution in collaboration and partnership with the NGO "Jafaria Disaster Management Cell", a welfare organization operating in Karachi. Social initiatives of this kind are multiplying in Pakistan, while the lockdown imposed by the government is having an impact above all on the poorest families and on all those who are employed in "informal" economy or work "by the day".
Cardinal Coutts also said: "Let us break the barriers of discrimination and move forward together to serve humanity. This Covid-19 pandemic is not only a matter that concerns poor and needy people, but is also influencing professional life, people's business, economy, spiritual life in society and around the world. It is therefore a favorable time to promote love, acceptance, interreligious harmony and work together for the development of humanity, and together defeat the challenges posed by the pandemic". The Cardinal reports to Fides: "Our priests and numerous lay people in various parishes are supporting families in hardship, bringing material aid and comfort, without distinguishing people on the basis of belief, castes, ethnic groups, culture".
Syed Zafar Abbas Jafri, secretary general of the JDC Foundation said: "I am grateful to Cardinal Joseph Coutts for the support offered: in this way we can reach more people. Cardinal Joseph Coutts and his community, are always at the forefront in promoting interreligious harmony and taking initiatives to promote and support people on a humanitarian basis". "We have distributed ration bags among 4,000 Christian families in the city of Karachi and we are bringing more. Our JDC Foundation offers its services to people in need of all religions without any discrimination", informs Syed Zafar Abbas Jafri.
Pervaiz Gill, representative of the Archdiocese of Karachi in the assistance camp prepared in the complex of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Karachi, speaking with Fides, says: "People are coming to get food parcels from all over the city of Karachi and, on the instructions from Cardinal Coutts, we are only distributing aid by presenting one’s computerized national card number". Gill reports: "The food distribution camp located in St. Patrick's Cathedral serves 200 families daily. One hundred food rations are supplied by the Catholic archdiocese of Karachi and one hundred by the JDC Foundation".
Similar initiatives are active throughout Pakistan. Ecclesial groups are continuing to contact people in need of food. In the Catholic Archdiocese of Lahore Fr. Qaisar Feroz OFM Cap, priest in charge of St. Joseph church, assists 70 families. Don Qaisar informs Fides: "The parish will support another 100 families; the goal is to help the parishioners who work by the day and therefore are now inactive and without income", he says, recalling that the country is still affected by the lockdown imposed by the government.
"Active Youth Group", a group operating under the aegis of the Catholic Church in Sahiwal has distributed food rations among widows, orphans, transgenders, disabled people, gypsies and poor people, all in need. Ashiknaz Khokhar, secretary of the youth group, speaking with Fides, said: "It is our duty to help people in need, we have brought packs of food to people's homes to support them and reduce the risk of spreading the virus. We have helped 100 families so far, raising funds with the help and support of our parish priest. We are promoting a campaign to raise more funds and thus form a food bank in our Church, so as to regularly reach more people in this moment of need". (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 30/4/2020)