human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Caritas is a love that reaches out

Portugal: Caritas Diocesan responses to COVID-19

Across the country, diocesan Caritas are working to guarantee that all essential services are maintaining their activity.

An example of this activity comes from the Diocesan Caritas of Bragança-Miranda in the north of Portugal. There, in partnership with other local organisations of the Catholic Church, Caritas is providing support to the population at risk, such as the elderly and chronic patients.

From Monday to Friday, Caritas’ vehicle goes to the streets to take hot meals to beneficiaries who are unable to attend the conviviality and daycare centers and who are currently home alone. Following the proper safety rules, these moments are equally used to ’ask if everything is alright, if they need anything else’, tells us psychologist Rui Magalhães of the Diocesan Caritas of Bragança-Miranda.

Besides the daily delivery of meals, food baskets are offered to both foreigners and national citizens in need.

During the weekend, the support is centred on shopping, in particular of medicine for the elderly and chronic patients, and in active listening over the phone.

In Bragança, these and other charitable activities are followed by D. José Cordeiro, the Bishop of the Diocese who has been in the field with the teams, carrying kind and hopeful words.

’I try to be present two or three times a week and give a word of hope and consolation to the people we visit and to those who work on the front lines. Caritas is a love that goes out there.’

The Diocesan Caritas of Bragança-Miranda has mostly responded by providing essential utilities, but also by distributing and paying for medicine, water, electricity and house rent.

’The biggest fear of the elderly is to be left alone and abandoned.’ Caritas does not want to leave anyone behind.

The Caritas network in Portugal is ensuring that all essential services to the population are kept active, whether through ‘virtual’ responses (service and assistance over the phone or e-mail) or by establishing auto-protection measures for beneficiaries who do not have any family support: daycare centers, nursing homes, home support, temporary accommodation of children at risk, communities of integration, homeless support, support to victims of domestic abuse.