Charity continues at home
Paul Pun Chi-meng, secretary-general of Caritas Macau, discusses the importance of helping the government and continuing vital charity work over the past few weeks.
When a city goes into lockdown, it becomes perhaps even more crucial to make sure that all its vulnerable or disabled members continue to be cared for by professionals and charity workers. Caritas Macau knows this well. Since the beginning of the outbreak, the organisation, which is the charity outreach arm of the Catholic Diocese of Macao, has worked hard to make sure all the vulnerable people that it helps continue to get the assistance they need while the organisation also tries to ‘relieve some of the pressure for the government’ in its work. Secretary-general Paul Pun answers some questions about this difficult period for the city.
What has it been like to be a resident in Macao since the outbreak of the virus?
At the beginning, when there was limited information about the outbreak, people started to panic. They became confused and feared for their safety. As the situation evolved – and in response to the government’s call to take precautionary measures – people became more attentive to safety precautions, such as maintaining personal and environmental hygiene, wearing surgical masks and staying away from crowded places. There have been some serious setbacks to Macao’s economy, however, which may need some time to recover.
What has Caritas done over these weeks?
To relieve some of the pressure for the government, we in Macao have played our part to ensure that there are adequate resources in our elderly and rehabilitation centres to prevent the spread of the virus – and our service users have been cared for without interruption. We have also provided temporary accommodation to some of our migrant workers from across the border in order to minimise their travels back and forth from the Mainland. During the critical period of the coronavirus, our social services continued to render assistance and support to vulnerable families and individuals – especially to people with disabilities. This work has been unaffected by the virus situation.
During these weeks, we have explained to our service users and colleagues that this is a time for calm, humanity and unity for all people.
What support has Caritas had in its work?
We have received some provisions, such as food and disinfectant products from enterprises. As such, we have also brought these provisions to at least 400 vulnerable families and individuals. During these weeks, we have explained to our service users and colleagues that this is a time for calm, humanity and unity for all people, including all medical workers helping patients on the front line and those working on preventing the virus.
How have people pulled together since the outbreak?
People have been more willing to work together with the government to prevent the spread of the virus. We have also noticed that people have become more concerned about the health conditions of their family members, as well as vulnerable people and the community as a whole. It has been a time to reflect on what our society needs and what it will need in the future. We have seen lots of actions taken for the common good of our society.
And how important has the government’s support been throughout?
During this period, the government has put the health of the people in Macao as its top priority. It has shown a tremendous will to contain the spread of virus through cross-government co-ordination work, timely disclosure of information to the public and implementing policies promptly as deemed necessary. As the situation has gradually evolved, people have noticed the effectiveness of the government’s measures, putting them more at ease.
As the virus continues, what do the next few months hold for Caritas?
We in Caritas are taking all possible measures locally and internationally for if the virus continues. We are preparing for the worst and, at the same time, hoping for the best. We shall make use of our international network to source resources to face the challenges. At the same time, we will continue to identify the needs of the people we serve, especially the vulnerable families and individuals and provide them with support and care. We shall also work with the government and provide our recommendations, as applicable. We are confident that we can overcome this difficult period and come out of this virus soon. After every storm, there will be a rainbow!