human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Mercy does not go into quarantine

Caritas Belarus continues to serve those in need

For Caritas Belarus these words have become more than just words in recent months. Employees and volunteers, in the current difficult situation, care even more about those who need their help.

‘Verily I say unto you, since you have done this to one of My least brothers, you have done it unto Me’ (Matthew 25:40). The words of the gospel describe, very well, the realisation of our Christian and simply human calling on this earth. This is especially true today, during a pandemic that affects people’s lives: somebody needs even more support at this time, and somebody has to work harder than usual to save the lives of coronavirus victims.

Volunteers, project participants and employees of all four dioceses of Caritas Belarus sew masks that are delivered to medical institutions and social centres throughout the country as well as used by Caritas volunteers during their participation in relief campaigns. As practice shows, the initiative is very relevant and in demand.

Caritas of Minsk-Mogilev Archdiocese supports those who are at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19 every day. Medical gowns, shoe covers, paper towels, diapers, pads, reusable medical masks, anti-epidemic suits and protective shields – all this Caritas Minsk systematically delivers to the medical and social institutions of the Minsk-Mogilev Archdiocese.

The Tabitha charity project in which volunteers provide home care for the disabled and seriously ill, continues its work. Volunteers buy food for their wards and, in addition, clean, perform sanitary and hygienic procedures, and provide physical and psychological assistance.

For more than three years Caritas Minsk has been helping Night Stay House for people without a fixed place of residence in Minsk providing guests with hot food, clothes and shoes. Usually, with the onset of spring, there are fewer guests but due to the pandemic this spring has become an exception. People are in the house around the clock. Therefore Caritas employees continue to support 80 guests daily with hot lunches and all the necessities.

Caritas Minsk launched the second phase of Domestic Animals Project to support low-income citizens of Belarus in rural areas, where the elderly, and large, foster or low-income families are given free broiler chickens and rabbits, as well as the necessary feed to get them started.

One of the main areas of work of Caritas of Minsk-Mogilev Archdiocese is work with orphanages. Volunteers organise trips to the children every two weeks, where they not only spend free time with them, but also try to share their own skills. Therefore, trips are more educational than entertaining. These are workshops on cooking, dancing, makeup, photography and more. The main goal is to show children the variety of possible professions and reveal their talents. Unfortunately, now all trips are suspended. However, in order not to lose contact with the pupils, Caritas Minsk found an alternative and conducts such master classes via the internet which also gives children great joy.

Caritas of Pinsk diocese implements Crisis Support project during which employees and volunteers hand out grocery sets, vitamins, medicines and personal care products to low-income people, retirees, people with disabilities, large families, and those in difficult situations.

Family and children play a big role for each of us, for our entire country, which is why so much attention is paid to children and parents, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Caring for families and helping them is one of the priorities of Caritas Pinsk diocese. Families with children up to 2 years old receive from Caritas Pinsk all the necessary hygiene products for baby care, such as diapers, creams for baby skin, creams for burns, powders, wet wipes, shampoos, cleaners and detergents.

Caritas Pinsk also provides daily support and assistance to medical institutions, supplying masks, respirators, protective suits, shields, shoe covers, disinfectants, and gloves.

Caritas Vitebsk also continues to care for those in need during the pandemic. Since there are no quarantine measures in Belarus and people can still visit places of worship, Caritas Vitebsk provided all parishes of Vitebsk diocese with antiviral protection – masks, respirators, disinfectants, gloves, to create the safest conditions for priests and parishioners.

Volunteers and employees provide food, medical masks and disinfectants to large families, low-income families and families raising disabled children from the Vitebsk diocese as well as disabled people. For those who are on self-isolation, food packages are delivered to their homes.

Help from Caritas Vitebsk is received not only by medical institutions, but also by those who are being treated. Volunteers systematically transmit help to patients in the form of protective masks and antiseptic agents.

Despite the pandemic, Caritas Grodno continues to implement its Kitchen for the Poor Project where socially vulnerable groups of citizens can get hot food. Additionally, through the Mobile Assistance Project all those in need can receive humanitarian assistance at a social centre. As part of the sponsorship, oxygen concentrators, disinfectants as well as personal protective equipment for doctors are transferred to the medical institutions of Grodno Diocese.

On 2020 April 19 the Catholic Church, on the initiative of Caritas Belarus, organised an all-Belarusian fundraising campaign when the Feast of Divine Mercy was celebrated in Belarusian churches. In a short period of time, 20 thousand euros were raised, with which Caritas Belarus bought four thousand protective suits and four thousand masks. Now all diocesan Caritas donate material assistance to diocesan institutions throughout Belarus that are most in need.

Mercy – at first glance, a simple and familiar word. However, only a person endowed with this feeling in spite of everything is always ready to come to the aid of another, he or she empathises not in words but in deeds. Therefore in this difficult and unsafe time for all of us we are certainly proud of our volunteers who do not cease to care for our neighbours, proving this with actions.