Caritas donations benefit more than 200 families

More than 200 struggling families will benefit from food supplies courtesy of donations from Catholic parishes across Upolu.

The donations are part of the marking of the World Day of the Poor, an annual event commemorated on the 15th of November.

The local branch of the international humanitarian arm of the Catholic Church – Caritas Samoa - is in charge of the distribution of donated goods.

Sala Georgina Bonin, the Coordinator of Programmes for Caritas Samoa told the Samoa Observer that the Catholic Church established a World Day of the Poor under direction from the Pope. 

The annual event is specifically a call to all Catholics to donate to poor people whether financially or in-kind.

But the annual event fell on last Sunday in Samoa.

“There are 50 parishes in Samoa but more than 30 have donated in Upolu alone while [we are] waiting for Savaii’s donation,” she said.

Sala added that Caritas is entirely dedicated to helping the poor.

“I think in the Catholic Church, the theme that the Pope has always said [is]: ‘Reach out your hands; stretch out your hands to the poor’,” she said. 

She said the assistance would be crucial for families struggling financially. 

“I think it’s very important in Samoa: about 19 per cent of our population is living under the relative basic needs poverty line and especially with the COVID-19 [pandemic] a lot of people have lost their jobs so there’s some kind of economic stress,” Sala said. 

“The impact on poor families is even worse because they have no income or steady income coming in.

“It is true that some families have plantations and land around to plant their own vegetables but money is needed for other necessities like electricity bills or transport fees.”

The Coordinator of Programmes for Caritas Samoa also explained that so far they have 200 people on their target list for assistance but were hopeful that they could stretch this assistance.

“We started receiving goods last Friday and on Sunday the supplies kept coming in,” Sala said. 

“The distribution of these items for families started on Monday and will continue until all has been given out.”

She said recipients should be grateful for the assistance because it comes from anonymous donors - something, she says, that is testament to everyone’s big heart for charity. 

This is the fourth time Caritas have carried out the charitable distribution.

The quantity of supplies for each family will depend on how many members are in each family but recipients will receive a sack of rice, box of noodles, corned beef, canned fish, soaps, detergent powder, and vegetables.

Sala added that the list of recipients came from their previous work on helping during the measles crisis last year and also from St. Vincent De Paul, which had been engaging with communities. 

The criteria on which families are usually judged for donations includes; their income status; access to water; the state of their homes; the number of children; any people with disabilities in a home, and whether a household is headed by a woman.

“It is because in studies from Samoa on hardships and poverty, it’s usually female-headed households that are struggling more so than male headed households,” she explained. 

“Some of the villages that will benefit include: Falelatai, Malololelei, Tiavea, Lotofaga, Falefa, Faleapuna but mostly villages around Upolu and we also hope to distribute to Savaii when all is confirmed. 

“We acknowledge the assistance from all the donors and the leadership of the archbishop in making sure we are efficient on how we distribute the goods.”

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