12/17/2015, 00.00
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Dhaka: experiencing Advent by helping others through social media

by Sumon Corraya
Some 3,500 Bangladeshi Catholics have joined a Facebook page to raise funds and collect essential items to be donated to the poor for Christmas. Warm clothes and small gifts have already been handed out to help people face the cold weather before Christmas. Those who give are not rich, “only those who understand the true meaning of Jesus’ birth."

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - These warm clothes “will help me cope with the misery caused by the cold. I never expected this wonderful gift! God bless you all!” said Pintu Dieu, a resident in Moulovibazar district, after a group of young Catholics gave him, and score of others, a Christmas gift.

The gifts were collected through, Amra (We) Bangladeshi Christian, a Facebook page with more than 3,500 members. The donors, one of the organisers explained, do not include "rich people, only those who understand the true meaning of Jesus’ birth."

"I chose Facebook because it is a very popular platform,” page administrator Ripon Tolentino told AsiaNews. “We want to reach as many people as possible. We are all volunteers, and we want to share the joy of Christmas with our less fortunate brothers and sisters. We used to go door to door to collect gifts, but the Net is faster and gives us the opportunity to reach more people."

"What we collect we give to the poorest of the poor,” said Sagar Corraya, another member of the group. “We live in a city like Dhaka, full of luxuries and opportunities, whilst people who really have nothing live around us. I had thought about this for a long time.”

Young people handed out their first "harvest" – 22 bags of clothing in good condition – in Srimangal Parish with more than 600 people receiving a Christmas gift. Deeply touched, the parish priest, Fr Subrato Boniface Tolentino, welcomed them.

"In our digital age,” he told them, “you use your talents the right way, following in Jesus’ footsteps. You are friends of Srimangal, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries in the world, and of the poorest in absolute terms. Out of a population of 150 million, 26 per cent live in poverty, which, according to the UN standard, is under US$ 2 a day. The situation is even worse in rural areas, home to 80 per cent of the population, with 36 per cent living below the poverty line.

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