As the Covid-19 pandemic rages, throngs of people have flocked to the Roman Catholic Church for food hampers and assistance, including prayer and counselling.
People who could not provide for themselves, and others who had run out of money, turned to the Church’s 61 parishes and its humanitarian organisations, including the Living Water Community, on Frederick Street, and the Society of St Vincent De Paul, on Duncan Street in Port of Spain.
Both chair of the Catholic Commission for Social Justice in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain, Leela Ramdeen, and Living Water Community co-director Rosemarie Scott said while they “celebrated” the people who had helped, they still needed monetary aid and foodstuff to continue to provide relief for the vulnerable and marginalised.
‘Not a one-off episode’
“The Social Development Ministry gave us a grant ($2.5 million) but the Archdiocese put in a lot of its money into the outreach,” said Ramdeen in an interview last month.
“A lot of the money came from people who donated. We are still asking for money. It is not a one-off episode because people are still in need. While we celebrate those people who helped us, we have to continue to feed more people.”
Ramdeen added: “Many people lost their jobs during the Covid-19 crisis. We can’t ignore the poor and the plight of those in need. Micah 6: verse 8 says, ‘And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God and do justice’. Justice means not just praying but meeting communities’ needs.”
Moving to the Venezuelan migrants, Ramdeen said since “the country’s borders are porous, so they will continue to come”.
She said the Church was cognisant Venezuelans were human beings and they would not turn a blind eye to their desperation.
On the way forward, Ramdeen said: “We are hoping more people would continue to give so we can continue our charitable work.”
‘Into charity for the long haul’
At the Living Water Community, Scott and a team of volunteers packed hampers filled with staples like rice, flour, oil, pasta, biscuits and tea.
People also got religious literature.
Scott said the hamper distribution outside Living Water had “decreased to about 600 people” and it was not taking place “every Friday, but every three weeks”.
“We continue to distribute hampers. We send foodstuff to parishes and communities,” said Scott. “We continue to help refugees. Our hamper distribution will continue but on a much lesser scale. We are here to help for the long haul. We make an appeal for people to continue supporting our humanitarian outreach.
“We welcome bulk items like flour, oil, rice and potatoes. We thank everyone who helped. We are very happy to continue to receive their help,” she added.
Thank you, T&T
And Archbishop Jason Gordon and Vicar-General Fr Martin Sirju said the Church must continue to reach out to poverty-stricken people.
Gordon said some of the poorest communities include Toco, Manzanilla and Matelot.
To show their appreciation for the “good Samaritans”, the Archdiocese of Port of Spain posted an ad themed “Thank you, T&T”, referring to “100,000 people in need” and “food hampers for over 20,000 families each month”.
The ad also issued an appeal: “T&T, let’s keep the good work going! Our citizens need our aid.”