By Robin Gomes
The humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Catholic Church in India is among several entities and personalities who have been honoured for their services and battle against the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
Caritas India, the official charity arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) was among those felicitated at the Healthgiri Awards 2020 ceremony held virtually on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of India’s independence movement.
Best NGO for Healthcare Services
“Caritas India is happy to receive this award as this is a recognition of our humble efforts to mitigate the sufferings of humanity in the wake of this COVID Pandemic,” said Executive Director of Caritas India, Father Paul Moonjely, in his speech on receiving the Healthgiri Award 2020 for best NGO for Healthcare Services.
The award was presented by Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare to Fr. Paul Moonjely.
Every year since 2014, the India Today Group, one of the biggest media conglomerates in the country, has been organizing the Safaigiri Award, after the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated a country-wide cleanliness campaign called the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA), or the “Clean India Mission”.
This year, the Safaigiri Award took the form of Healthgiri Awards 2020, to pay homage to the invincible spirit of corona warriors who have led the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
In his acceptance speech, Father Moonjely dedicated the award to Caritas’ “health warriors and volunteers, both in the community and institutional levels”. “It gives us added courage and heightened motivation to march forward with our mission of love and care even amid new challenges,” he said, adding, “We are honoured and humbled by this award”.
The priest said, “There was a lot of fear of pandemic and hopelessness amplified with the exodus of migrants.” “But the institutional strength of the Church as a humanitarian collective helped us together to team up and reach out to the last mile with the amazing support of the Church leadership.”
The award ceremony on 2 October assumed an added significance for Caritas India, as it was on that day in 1962 that it was founded.
Caritas’ action plan
Father Moonjely explained that during the pandemic, Caritas pitched in with a 5-point strategic orientation: be trained, be informed, be cautioned and be compassionate. They reached out to almost 6.4 million people through their partner networks. They serve the community, institutions, first-level treatment centres, Covid warriors, government institutions, including the police force.
Caritas India partners and religious congregations joined hands to focus on four key areas – food support; health, hygiene and sanitation; psychosocial support and creating awareness.
“Our medical colleges, tertiary hospitals and community workers,” Father Moonjely said, “did a commendable job in reaching out to the peripheries and serving the poor, all out of love and humanitarian concern,” because, he said, they believe service to humanity is service to God.
In conclusion, Father Moonjely reiterated Caritas’ “continued commitment and service to humanity.”
The nation of 1.3 billion people is among the worst hit by Covid-19. With over 103,500 deaths, India ranks after the United States and Brazil in fatalities. However, its caseload of over 6.6 million is the second highest after the US.