By Caritas staff These last three days have been particularly difficult and deadly in Aleppo. Caritas works in the Jabal Es Saydeh quarter with families who have been forced from their homes. But it is now empty of all its residents, driven from their homes by heavy fighting. The local sheikh was murdered. He had opposed the armed groups. He was beheaded and his severed head displayed for passersby to see. Homes have been occupied by fighters and used as advanced firing positions. Bullets and bombs rain down ceaselessly on Jabal Es Saydeh and adjacent neighbourhoods. Snipers dominate the city. They’ve moved into areas previously thought safe before. Christian parts of the city which were thought safe have become the front line. Families have had to flee from place to place looking for safety. Aleppo has witnessed a major wave of people, both Christian and Muslim, leaving because they no […]
By Caritas Lebanon Migrants Centre
The parents of 8-month old Amjad Aalawayn came to the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre in Zahle in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon on Wednesday 3 April looking for help for their sick baby. The family were Syrian refugees, fleeing the fighting in their country. The baby was pale, listless and had no appetite.
They came to Caritas after one hospital had refused to admit Amjad because of money issues. A Caritas social worker contacted a paediatrician to transfer him to a hospital, but sadly he passed away while waiting for medical assistance.
Our social worker contacted the hospital where he was transferred, whereby they confirmed the death of 8-month old Amjad. No cause of death was declared as was dead on arrival. May this angel’s soul rest in peace, a peace he certainly didn’t find in here.
Many sick children have been referred to Caritas from the same […]
By Jos de Vogd, CORDAID (Caritas Netherlands)
After two years of fighting in Syria, the flow of refugees into neighbouring Lebanon is increasing the pressure on this small country by the day. According to recent government figures, more than a million Syrians are now in Lebanon. And every week more than 10,000 more displaced people, all looking for accommodation, are adding to the problem because there are no official refugee camps there.
The numbers include refugees registered or waiting to be registered with the UN refuge agency UNHCR. But they also include people who are either not willing to register as well as seasonal workers who didn’t return to Syria because of the civil war, instead persuading their families to join them in Lebanon. Also included are Palestinian refugees from Syria and Lebanon who were permanently living in Syria. At the moment, one in five people in Lebanon come from Syria.
By Michelle Hough, communications officer with Caritas Internationalis It’s been a week of lots of coffee, very little rest and some very bad, unhealthy food mostly eaten standing up. But it’s also been a week that I’ll tell my grandchildren about: the week Pope Francis was elected and conventional wisdom about what a Pope is supposed to be like was turned on its head. This morning was Pope Francis’s inaugural mass in St Peter’s Square. It would have been nice to have moseyed on over there at 9am and got a seat at the front ready for the 9.30am mass, but that would have been about as likely as meeting the Pope himself (maybe not so unlikely considering the way things are going with him). So I got there at 6.30am, got a good place half way between the obelisk and St Peter’s and prepared myself for a five hour […]
By Michelle Hough, communications officer for Caritas Internationalis I’ve seen Pope Francis three times in six days, starting with the night he was elected. Every time I’ve had to wear the highest heels I own just to see over the heads of the massive crowds. I could also have done with a pair of binoculars. On Sunday, I arrived at St. Peter’s around 11.15am for the midday Angelus. The square was already packed and a massive crowd of hundreds, if not thousands were waiting to get in. I decided to use my press pass to go up to the roof area between St Peter’s and the colonnade (Braccio Carlo Magno) as it didn’t even look as though I’d be able to get into the square. On the roof there were dozens of TV and photo journalists with many more camped under temporary gazebos on buildings near-by. A new Pope is […]
What’s in a name? Since the Holy Father chose to be the first Pope Francis in history, many people have been speculating about the significance of this. Francisco Gearóid Ó Conaire OFM is a co-executive secretary of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Union of Superiors General (USG/UISG) and he is based in Rome. He reflects upon St Francis of Assisi and Pope Francis – and throws in a bit of St Francis Xavier for good measure. Interview by Michelle Hough. “St Francis saw the whole of creation as one big family under God. If we and the whole of creation are all from the same Father, we’re related to each other. If you’re connected to and are related to each other, you have a responsibility to each other,” said Francisco. On creating him Patron of Ecology in 1979, Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote: ‘The […]
“MISERANDO ATQUE ELIGENDO” – Su Santidad Francisco
Todas las Caritas de América Latina y el Caribe, nos unimos al regocijo que experimenta el Pueblo Santo de Dios después de haber hecho oración al Padre, para que a través del Espíritu de su Hijo Jesucristo, llamara y eligiera a Francisco para vivir la comunión con El y predicar el Reino de Dios (cf. Mc., 3,13-19; Mt., 10,1-42).
Que el Señor lo conforte, lo proteja y lo llene de fortaleza, para que al igual que Pedro pueda llevar adelante la tarea de hacer discípulos del Resucitado a todos los pueblos, los santifique y los sirva en el nombre del Señor todos los días (cf. Mt., 28,16-20;Mc., 16,15; Lc., 24,45-48; Jn., 20,21-23) y así dilate a la Iglesia y la apaciente. (Cfr. LG 19)
Desde ya, las Cáritas de América Latina y el Caribe, nos sentimos animadas, fortalecidas y esperanzadas por su sencillez, humildad y espíritu de oración. Su testimonio […]
By Michelle Hough, communications officer for Caritas Internationalis If I think of St Francis, I think of sandals… and a cord belt around a rough brown tunic, a bald pate and of course, a man surrounded by birds and squirrels. My thoughts about him had never gone further than the usual clichés that I learnt about when I was five. That was until last night…
By Michelle Hough, communications officer for Caritas Internationalis It was a good day for umbrella sales people but a bad day for a Pope. As in no Pope was elected during the morning of the second day of the conclave. No one expected a Pope to be elected so early but me and about 10,000 others huddled in St Peter’s Square in the rain waiting for the smoke to come out of the chimney. So, about this chimney… it’s tiny. If you’re expecting something Santa could get down, think again. Even a pigeon would have trouble squeezing down there to make a home. Such a tiny thing the focus of so much attention…
By Martin de Jong, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand
Lisa Vehikite is the leader of a tapa-making (cloth-making) group that is finding new life through a Caritas programme in Tonga. Lisa’s group is one of 43 micro-enterprises benefiting from small loans provided through Caritas Tonga in partnership with Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand. The scheme has been made possible by the New Zealand Aid programme and our New Zealand donors.
Lisa’s husband works in Australia picking fruit for seven months each year. She has five children at home in Utulau Village on the main island of Tongatapu. Income she earns through the tapa making group helps pay her children’s school fees. She heard about the scheme at a community meeting where Caritas Tonga’s Amelia Ma’afu spoke. ‘This project makes me feel like I am a real mother … someone else is helping us to do our work at home,’ says Lisa. Her dream […]
The President of Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegulcigalpa, talks to Catholic News Service about the challenges facing the Church as Cardinals prepare to choose a new Pope. He also tells CNS’s Cindy Wooden about how the cardinals prepare for a Conclave.
By Michelle Hough, communications officer for Caritas Internationalis
It’s a strange thought, the Pope surrounded by packing boxes. It’s an even stranger thought the Pope not being Pope any more.
As I waited for Pope Benedict to appear for his final General Audience this morning I glanced at his apartment windows overlooking St Peter’s Square. I thought about the magnitude of his decision to stand down and wondered if he felt nervous.
It’s easy to forget that the Pope’s a person with doubts and struggles, but in his final speech to the world as Pontiff, Pope Benedict reminded us that he is as human as the rest of us.
“There were moments of joy and light but also moments that were not easy … there were moments, as there were throughout the history of the Church, when the seas were rough and the wind blew against us and it seemed that the Lord […]
By Michelle Hough, communications officer for Caritas Internationalis
Working for Caritas, you could be having an audience with the Pope one day and be suddenly heading off to a major disaster or war zone the next. A number of staff at the general secretariat in Rome not only have to be aid professionals in the office, but they also have to know what to do if they find themselves on their own far from home and in a complex and quickly changing security situation.
That’s why I found myself face down in a muddy field in the English countryside two weeks ago. I can’t tell you exactly what I was doing, as I’ve been sworn to secrecy. But it was all part of a personal security training course that I went on with my colleagues Alessandra, Martina and John.
Attacks on aid workers have been on the rise over the past ten […]
By Helen Blakesley
Djélika Haïdara pushes a plaited braid off her face and hitches her five month-old son higher onto her hip. She leans down to look into the metal pot that’s simmering on the wood stoked stove, placed on the kitchen floor. Cooking has been her main occupation since they left Timbuktu. Since they fled in fear for their lives.
The day the rebels came, Djélika was sitting in the classroom with the other students, as she always did. Listening carefully to the teacher. It was her favorite lesson, physics and chemistry. Then the gunshots started, startling the teenagers sitting in their neat rows behind their desks. The rebels weren’t far away. Their stray bullets were finding innocent victims in the small school building. Some students fainted, others hid, still others were hit—and a number died.
Djélika was pregnant at the time. A newly wed bride carrying her first son. She […]