Update (as of June 26, 2020):
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand Lent Appeal funds has recently surpassed $757,000, up from the $683,000 the organisation managed to raise during the Covid- 19 lockdown.
Caritas Communications director Rebecca Sees said thanks to “the generosity and support of our communities, as well as our renewed ability to receive donations through the post since COVID-19 restrictions have eased, the Caritas Lent Appeal total has recently surpassed $757,000”.
“While the fundraising figure is still below our target goal of $1 million, we are optimistic that our supporters’ commitment and prayers in these difficult times will continue to enable us to work for the poor and vulnerable,” she said.
(This story appeared in NZ Catholic’s 591 edition, June 14-27, 2020)
Amid the pandemic, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand managed to raise some $683,000 during its 2020 Lent Appeal, a figure that is more than 30 per lower than the amounts they raised in recent years.
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand director Julianne Hickey said, in the past, the Lent Appeal raised $1million.
Still, Mrs Hickey said, they “are encouraged by the generosity of our communities during these difficult times”.
“Their ongoing support and prayers continue to enable us to do our work, and we are thankful for their commitment to helping those in need around the world and in Aotearoa New Zealand,” she said.
The reduced amount means community projects in West Papua, Bougainville, the Philippines and Holy Land that were supposed to be funded this year would be set aside for next year.
“Caritas is carefully examining our 2020 operational budget to focus our expenditure to help those most in need and make cost savings on budget lines such as travel,” Mrs Hickey said.
“Our volunteer programme, Catholic Volunteers Overseas (CVO), will not be sending any further volunteers to the Pacific this year, although we continue to support two volunteers who are already in Papua New Guinea,” she added.
Mrs Hickey said priority will be given to communities in the Pacific and around the world with whom Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has longterm relationships.
“Our priority is to continue to work with our partners on the ground in these communities to respond to their most urgent needs. Currently, we are working with these communities to help them prepare for the effects of the pandemic,” she said.
Mrs Hickey said they will be supporting these communities’ efforts “in health care and messaging, well-being, livelihoods and food, so that people don’t go hungry, and to ensure that the spread of disease is contained”.
“No community in the world is immune to the ongoing impacts (of the pandemic),” she said. Mrs Hickey said another on-going project they have is the development of school and parish resources for Social Justice Week in September.
“This year the focus is on Catholic Social Teaching, which will help us all reflect on the core principles that guide our decision-making, participation and involvement in our communities,” she said.
Caritas communications advisor Rebecca Sees said the agency is still accepting donations to the Lent Appeal.
“As the bishops’ agency for justice, peace and development, our mission is to serve as [a] vehicle for all New Zealand Catholics to engage with the social mission of the Church: to overcome poverty, protect lives and relieve suffering. This mission is more important than ever, as we face an unprecedented humanitarian challenge in which the poor and vulnerable will continue to be the most heavily impacted,” she said.
“With the help of our supporters, we can continue to be love-in-action for these communities, providing essential assistance on the ground, both in our region and around the world, to those who are most in need.”
Caritas is also accepting donations toward its Pandemic Appeal, which will go towards supporting vulnerable communities’ efforts at Covid-19 prevention.
“However, we recognise that now is a difficult time for many, and some people who may want to give financially won’t be able to do so. The support of our work through prayer and advocacy is just as critical to our success in the midst of the pandemic. We ask our Catholic communities to join us in raising the voices of those on the margins, and in praying for all who are affected by this crisis, from the sick and the suffering to the helpers and the workers,” Ms Sees said.
More information about how to get involved can be found at: www.caritas.org.nz