Where many Caritas organisations are trying to meet the needs of the population despite serious difficulties and limitations. In Brazil – the country in the region most affected by the pandemic with over 400 thousand infected – Caritas Brazil has reacted promptly to the crisis providing 100,000 vulnerable people with food and hygiene items to help them cope with the effects of COVID-19 in the course of the past month. The distributions are part of É Tempo de Cuidar (It’s Time to Care), a joint campaign with the Brazilian Bishops’ Conference and with support from the Fundação Banco do Brasil which aims to boost solidarity during the time of the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign has been launched in 58 dioceses and covers hundreds of towns and cities. Sixty percent of those helped so far have been unemployed people, many of them single mothers. Migrants and refugees and the homeless are also a big focus for the project.At the time of writing, Brazil is the second country in the world for most confirmed coronavirus cases. More than 25,500 people have died from the virus since the first case was confirmed three months ago. A Cáritas Diocesana de Araçuaí (Minas Gerais) representative, José Nelson Pereira, says, “The situation of families is not easy and there are many different types of emergency. Needs keep increasing, especially for those who are socially vulnerable. People need food and support to get through this crisis, but they also need reliable information to help them protect themselves against the virus”.
Families have been receiving food baskets containing rice, beans, sugar, flour, pasta, milk, eggs, oil and sardines. The basket also includes hygiene items such as soap and bleach to clean with. Caritas Brazil is working with a large solidarity network including volunteers, parishes, pastoralists, grassroots communities, trade unions and social organisations to ensure the most vulnerable are cared for. The campaign was launched at Easter and the president of the Brazilian Bishops’ Conference urged people to support the campaign saying, “It is time to rebuild and to open a new path. It is time to live a new experience of solidarity, let us join hands and go to meet people in need”.
Caritas is at the forefront against COVID-19. So far, the Confederation has helped around 10 million people worldwide by providing food, protective materials and raising awareness.