06/03/2020, 15.43
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Capuchins in West Kalimantan help people most affected by COVID-19

by Mathias Hariyad

The Justice Peace and Integrity Creation (JPIC) service of the Franciscan Capuchin Order of Pontianak undertook a major humanitarian initiative together with local partners.

Pontianak (AsiaNews) – the Justice Peace and Integrity Creation (JPIC) service of the Franciscan Capuchin Order in Pontianak undertook a major humanitarian initiative together with local partners, like the West Borneo Vespa Lovers of western Borneo, an informal humanitarian group involved in interfaith work in Pontianak, the capital West Kalimantan province.

"We do it for humanitarian reasons,” said Brother Stefanus Paiman O.F.M.Cap. (pictured right with Brother Herman Mayong), a Capuchin who coordinates the programme.

The project was implemented between 3 April until late May thanks to almost 1,2 billion rupiahs (US,000) raised in a few weeks. The group handed out at least 8,065 parcels of food and drink to people affected by COVID-19, Brother Stefanus Paiman O.F.M.CAP. told AsiaNews.

This was done in Pontianak itself and in the more remote areas of this huge province of western Kalimantan, places like Ketapang regency, which is larger than some provinces in Java, as well as remote areas in several districts, like Singkawang, Kubu Raya, Kayong Utara, Mempawah, Sambas, Bengkayang, Sanggau, Kapuas Hulu and Landak.

Meeting good people in remote areas

For the Capuchin brother, reaching such remote areas “in the middle of nowhere” was the most memorable experience during this outreach campaign.

“With the helpful assistance and full support of numerous Franciscan volunteers and their local partners, we finally managed to reach some of the more remote areas in the upstream area of West Kalimantan, like Kapuas Hulu and Landjak,” Brother Stefanus said. “Sometimes we had to take breaks, sleeping in the middle of palm plantations. In fact, our group has gotten used to sleep at night in such a place.”

What really comforted them was the fact that on their way back to Pontianak, which coincided with the celebration of Eid-al-Fitri, “Muslims in Penyeladi, Sanggau district, treated us cordially and amicably with lots of food and drink.”

Unfortunately, “West Kalimantan is becoming a COVID-19 hotspot (with direct access to Sarawak, eastern Malaysia) and we want to help the government within our means and skills.” People in these remote areas are the most affected, living in the middle of a huge palm plantation. "What they need are simple things like food," said the Capuchin.

“To get to these remote areas we had to travel on waterways by motorboats because during the rainy season, it is hard to drive along the main access road. When we have to use minivans or lorries, a special device is needed on the wheel so that our lorries don’t turn over.”

The full support of the Order

Father Provincial Herman Mayong O.F.M.Cap. told AsiaNews that the programme received the financial support of the Franciscan Capuchin Order in Pontianak.

Through its Justice Peace and Integrity Creation (JPIC) service in Pontianak, the religious order received financial aid from local and foreign Capuchin networks, as well as local partners.

“When COVID-19 exploded in West Kalimantan province, I strongly pushed our province of the Capuchin Order in Pontianak to do something useful for the most unfortunate people,” said the clergyman, an ethnic Dayak, speaking to AsiaNews.

“Together with Fr William Chang, deputy provincial of the Capuchin Order, the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Pontianak, and the head of our JPIC, we worked out the humanitarian programme, which Brother Stefanus Paiman carried out.

"Our action was motivated mainly by Saint Francis, whose strong love for the poor inspired our Capuchin patrons who were very active in helping patients during the plague.”

"What made us very happy about this humanitarian initiative is the strong and positive response from the Catholic and non-Catholic communities in West Kalimantan province and our Capuchins in the Roman Curia.”

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