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The ravages of malnutrition on a child's body . The ravages of malnutrition on a child's body .   (AFP or licensors)

Caritas India’s Lenten campaign against malnutrition

"Nutrition: our right", is the theme of the Lenten campaign of Caritas India for 2019.

Caritas India, the charitable arm of the Catholic Church of India, has launched a Lenten campaign against hunger by creating an awareness among people regarding solidarity, food security, medical care and a dignified life for all citizens. 

The theme of the Lenten campaign 2019, launched last month, is, "Nutrition: our right".  It aims at fighting the scourge of malnutrition, which it regards as a "painful and shameful for humanity".  

According to the charity arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), the nation, with its resources, is be able to feed its inhabitants, yet it continues to be one home to one of the highest numbers of malnourished women and children in the world.


According to official data, 38.4% of children in India suffer from rickets and 35.8% from underweight, both of which are liked to malnutrition.  Despite the enviable rate of economic growth, millions of children in the country suffer from hunger. Malnutrition is a debilitating condition that weakens the child's immune system, increases its exposure to diseases and therefore increases the mortality rate.

According to Fr. Jolly Puthenpura, the assistant executive director of Caritas India, "Malnutrition as a result of extreme poverty and inequality, irreversibly damages both individuals and society and increases the burden of the disease on families and governments." 

"During Lent, in which believers are invited to conversion and to love for God and neighbour, we intend to raise awareness among the ecclesial communities on the situation of the poor, the hungry, the malnourished, farmers and migrants looking for work,” he told the Vatican’s Fides news agency.

Bible vs malnutrition, hunger

Fr. Puthenpura explained that the Bible is the inspiration for this Lenten campaign.  Jesus saw the hungry crowd and had compassion on them.  From the Book of Genesis, we learn that malnutrition dehumanizes the image and likeness of God that is in every person.

The priest said that “the Church must play its role as a catalyst and mobilize consciences so that communities express their solidarity and commitment to feed the poor and the hungry."

The assistant executive director of Caritas India said that “the compassion of Jesus needs to be lived and experienced in the life of all, in order to wipe out the stain of hunger and malnutrition from society”.  “Pope Francis,” he said, “urges us to take urgent action to help those who live in desperate circumstances, because the poor cannot wait".


India’s Catholic Church is aware of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the United Nations member states set for themselves in 2015 to be achieved by 2030.  SDG No. 2 aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. 

Fr. Puthenpura said that India’s Catholic communities intend to “play their part”.  (Source: Fides) 

13 March 2019, 16:16