Success Story: Coronavirus Emergency Aid for Three Dioceses in Pakistan
“The aid you have provided us from ACN has helped save many people from starvation. Many people had absolutely nothing to put on the table or feed their families with, and were in a state of extreme anguish.” These were the words of Aneel Mushtaq, the executive secretary of Caritas Pakistan, ACN’s partner in a project which helped provide emergency aid to Christians in Pakistan who were not being helped by other aid agencies.
Christians are already treated as second-class citizens in Pakistan. Abused, discriminated against, oppressed, they are rarely given the opportunity to advance socially. Most Christians have to eke out a living in the most poorly paid jobs, often working as day laborers, in the brickworks, as road sweepers, road workers, rickshaw drivers or domestic staff and generally living from hand to mouth.
The coronavirus pandemic has only made their situation worse. Many have simply lost their jobs as a result of the lockdown and have no savings to tide them over. While many Muslims also find themselves in a similar situation, they are able to count on the support of local NGOs. By contrast, non-Muslims are often refused help of any kind.
The coronavirus is spreading rapidly in Pakistan. In the second half of June, there were still over 1,000 new infections daily, and with a high mortality rate. By July 27, according to official figures, there had been almost 274,300 recorded cases and over 5,840 deaths.
As a result, for the three dioceses of Faisalabad, Islamabad Rawalpindi and Lahore, ACN has launched an emergency aid program during the course of the lockdown, for a total of $179,100. Already, essential food supplies have been provided to 5,000 needy families, most of them Christians. In addition, the priests and catechists of these three dioceses have been provided with protective equipment such as masks and sanitizing fluid, so that they can continue to minister to the Catholic faithful in all their physical and spiritual needs.
Since many of these people have no access to the Internet, an information program about COVID-19 has also been launched via local radio and a local leafleting campaign, informing people how to protect themselves against infection. Schoolchildren from some of the neediest families have also been helped with a special school subsidy so that they can continue their schooling after the lockdown, even though their parents have lost their means of support.
A heartfelt thank you to all our benefactors who have helped!
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