I am pleased to share that our One Million Tree Campaign, launched in 2016, continues in all dioceses fulfilling the Gospel mandate to care for the environment. Similarly, the drip irrigation system was introduced in several villages to address the ongoing shortage of irrigation water thus helping the small farmers.
However, the highlight of 2017 was the briefing session on SAFBIN-II (Smallholder Adaptive Farming and Biodiversity Network) which was held in May and June. Caritas Pakistan was privileged to host representatives from local and international organizations including USAID, World Food Program and the Belgian Embassy.
The year 2018, summarizes the services of Caritas to the community and covers all the projects, programs and capacity building initiatives across the country. This year including initiatives for youth development, SAFBIN (Smallholder Adaptive Farming & Biodiversity Network) program, NCDC (National Community Development Course), tree plantation, volunteers training under PEACH (European Asian Partnership for Building Capacities in Humanitarian Action) project, youth festival, contingency planning, and implementation of WASH initiatives (Water Sanitation & Hygiene) have been some of the main highlights of this year.
Year 2019 has been a time of committed and dedicated performance by all the staff members of Caritas Pakistan. Throughout the year, we remained focused on implementing the goals of our strategic plan. I would especially like to thank my Brother Bishops of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops Conference (PCBC), for having supported the “One Million Tree Plantation Campaign” in their respective dioceses. This campaign came to an end during the year 2019 and now, with the official endorsement of PCBC, we have launched the “One Million More Tree Plantation Campaign” for the year 2020-2023). For the first time in the history of Caritas Pakistan, we have responded to two flood emergencies that affected many areas of Pakistan.
The year 2020 started as a normal year with planning and orientation meetings until the corona virus (COVID-19) outbreak. This globally spreading infectious disease namely Corona virus (COVID-19) has deadly impacted humankind in year 2020. Together with diocesan units, Caritas Pakistan helped the affected during double emergency of heavy monsoon rains and Covid-19. Caritas Pakistan responded to the situation by focusing on major components in initial response including Food Packages/Ration Support, Hygiene and Safety Kits to vulnerable groups/individuals, Awareness raising and information sharing for preventive measures. Psycho Social Care and trauma counseling initiatives and Youth Engagement for Volunteer support in different activities. The proposed distribution mechanism included N selection of beneficiaries in collaboration with Parish Priests and following the SOPs.
In year 2021, Pakistan has experienced the worst floods and the scale of the devastation has shocked not only those living within the country but the outside world too. Caritas, as in the past has been at the forefront of responding to emergencies and thanks to its international partners; food rations, tents, mosquito nets as well as medical camps have been provided to the suffering masses. Although the global pandemic caused great disruption in our work, our resilience coped with the difficult situation and we were able to reach to communities to provide them awareness programs for the protection against COVID-19. During this year, the situation in Afghanistan created another crisis as many refugees crossed the border into Pakistan. Caritas Pakistan responded to this emergency as well and helped hundreds of vulnerable persons to better their resilience and return to normal life. Caritas, Pakistan has also been working in other thematic areas, projects, and initiatives like SAFBIN (Smallholder Adaptive Farming and Biodiversity Network), WASH (Water and Sanitation Hygiene). Non-formal education centers. for marginalized children, DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction), 6th NCDC (National Community Development Course), 7th Youth Camp, Annual Children Assembly, Volunteers and staff capacity building trainings supported diversity of beneficiaries across the country. Caritas Pakistan has developed community-based disaster risk reduction program to develop resilient communities in hazard prone areas. Finally this year, Caritas Pakistan has announced the opening of an operational office of Caritas in Peshawar, KPK province which will provide good place to reach out to the needy Afghan refugees and at the same time, to collaborate with the Government offices in a better way.
In year 2022 review, we had preparatory & consultative meetings for Synodal church. This makes me pleased to announce for the promotion of health facilities, we had inaugurated health center in KPK province and also launched new initiative of E-commerce for empowering women. This year the services of Caritas to the community recapitulated all the projects, programs and capacity building trainings involves SAFBIN (Smallholder Adaptive Farming & Biodiversity Network) program launching at Diocesan level, tree plantation activities, NCDC (National Community Development Course), Annual youth festivals and conference.
Despite of all circumstances, Caritas Pakistan has determined for the uplifting of deserving and disadvantaged communities. Last year, we have faced a disastrous flood in all over the country. This catastrophic flood has badly influenced more than 33 million households, livelihood, cultivated land and crops, loss of livestock, damages health, hygiene and medical facilities, schools and infrastructures were also affected. Caritas Pakistan has effectively and actively responded to cater flood victims through provision of cooked food and nutrition kits, clean drinking water and hygiene kits, non-food items, emergency kits, shelter and bedding facilities and Temporary Education Learning centers.
Since the mission of Caritas has been to restore the dignity of the disadvantaged, the annual tradition of organizing the Women Conference was continued last year as well, so as to acknowledge hardworking women and to reaffirm our commitment to empower them.
At the end, I personally would like to thank our staff and volunteers who have been involved in relief efforts and all our programs. They are the ones serving others as a natural extension of our Christian faith.
On behalf of Caritas Pakistan, I want to assure you of our prayers and expressions of solidarity with the people of Pakistan in their hour of need. A special thanks to our partners who make it possible for us to do the work that we do every day.
Thank you and God bless you all.
+ Benny Travas
(Bishop of Multan)
Chairman, Caritas Pakistan