11/23/2017, 17.44
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Caritas Asia meets in Bangkok

by Nirmala Carvalho

Catholics reflect on how best to respond to emergencies. For Fr Frederick D'Souza, executive director of Caritas India, charities should "never forget the biological needs of women and girls." Caritas is helping the Rohingya.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The directors of 23 Asian Caritas recently met in Bangkok, Thailand, to reflect on how to best respond to natural and human disasters in the region covered by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC).

"Asian leaders have outlined strategies for the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) programme on how to respond to emergency situations and help the livelihood of affected people," said Fr Frederick D'Souza, executive director of Caritas India, speaking to AsiaNews.

With this goal in mind, they "are thinking about drawing up a list of experts in Asia, and setting up local continency funds to help members,” he explained.

WASH’s most significant part "is to never forget the biological needs of women and girls, who might otherwise be ignored. WASH focuses on the dignity of women and girls and human rights in [times of] peace and disaster.”

As for what Caritas India does, the director said that the Catholic Church’s main charity "has deployed its staff in the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Nepal to address recent emergencies and help local Caritas offices." In Bangladesh, its people are working alongside volunteers handing out aid and food to displaced Rohingya.

With respect to Pope Francis’s first World Day of the Poor, Fr D'Souza stressed that with this initiative "the pope raised humanitarian work and charitable activity to a new level of compassion and mercy. He raised the works of mercy to the level of an individual's response to faith."

The clergyman also talked about the challenge Caritas faces in working with other countries in humanitarian outreach.

"The Holy Father’s fervent involvement helps the Caritas confederation, which is an expression of the Church’s diakonia. Diakonia, liturgy, and kerigma are the three expressions of faith. When a work of mercy becomes an expression of faith, it transcends [issues like] funds and initiatives carried out by other agencies."

The light that illuminates the entire Caritas service and guides the priest is Mother Teresa. "I am constantly inspired by her," he said.

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