ASIA/CHINA - The readiness of Charity: at Christmas Time, Chinese Catholic communities help earthquake-affected people

Saturday, 23 December 2023 christmas   natural catastrophe   earthquake   charity

by Marta Zhao
Beijing (Agenzia Fides) - In the days leading up to the celebration of Holy Christmas, marked in China by the effects of a devastating earthquake, Chinese Catholics promptly put into practice the commandment of love given by Jesus, which is also expressed as community responsibility in the face of disasters and social emergencies.
Chinese Catholic communities are moving forward with a widespread network of timely charity initiatives to bring concrete help to the earthquake-affected people.
More than one million yuan of relief materials were sent to the earthquake areas under the coordination of Jinde Charities, the largest Catholic charity in mainland China, while one million yuan of relief funds was offered by Joseph Shen Bin, as bishop of the Shanghai diocese. But the small and poor Catholic community in Pingliang, Gansu province (one of the two provinces affected by the earthquake) also did all it could, raising in the early stages after the earthquake about 7 thousand yuan (about 900 euros) together with the Pingliang Religious Association, which unites the different communities of believers in that Prefecture.
On Monday, Dec. 18, a 6.2-magnitude quake struck Jieshishan County in Linxia Prefecture, Gansu Province, northwest mainland China, causing extensive damage to people and property. The devastating effects of the earthquake were also recorded in the adjacent Qinghai province. These are areas already marked by difficult economic conditions.
According to data recorded up to Dec. 20, the earthquake claimed at least 135 lives. The calamity has devastated entire villages. The harsh winter is also severely affecting relief operations for the affected people, who urgently need large quantities of materials and tools to survive the cold.
The disaster immediately moved the hearts of many Chinese Catholics. Jinde Charities which has long, historical experience in implementing charitable initiatives even in the face of natural disasters immediately went into action, making available a supply of emergency materials with a value of 1,290,000 Yuan (equivalent to 167,700 Euros). And providing for the delivery and distribution of the disaster supplies in the earthquake areas.
In the Diocese of Shanghai, Bishop Joseph Shen Bin immediately decided to allocate 1 million yuan (equivalent to 130 thousand euros) for initial relief in the earthquake areas. Half of the funds were donated to the Shanghai Charity Foundation, an entity sponsored by the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the Shanghai Municipal Civilization Office and the Shanghai Municipal Civil Affairs Office; the other half was contributed by the church community to the special donation collection fund for urgent relief to those affected by the earthquakes in Gansu and Qinghai.
In the earthquake zone, temperatures touch fifteen degrees below zero. There is also a need for heavy clothing, tents, folding beds, mattresses, and electric heaters. Catholic communities are cooperating with the political authorities to deal with the emergency, which is made even more complicated because of the severe cold.
In this way, Jinde Charities and the entire Chinese Catholic community are also responding to the appeal made by Pope Francis at the end of his General Audience on Wednesday, December 20. "I address my thoughts," the Bishop of Rome said on that occasion, "to the victims and the injured caused by the devastating earthquake that struck the Chinese Provinces of Gansu and Qinghai on Monday. I am close with affection and prayer to the suffering populations, I encourage the relief services and I invoke upon all the blessing of the Almighty, that He may bring comfort and relief in sorrow." (NZ) (Agenzia Fides 23/12/2023)