OTTAWA (CCN) — Canada’s Catholic bishops and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) have launched a joint emergency campaign to help earthquake victims in Nepal.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (CCCB) president Archbishop Paul-André Durocher is asking parishes and other groups to organize special collections before May 25. The Canadian government will match any funds collected by that date.
Donations to CCODP should be marked “Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund.”
The CCCB said in an April 30 statement the earthquake April 25 “has affected some seven million people in Nepal’s 34 districts, leaving one million homeless and around two million children in need of assistance, with an estimated 400,000 buildings destroyed.”
“Media report that people and whole villages have been buried by landslides and avalanches triggered by the earthquake and aftershocks,” the CCCB said. “The number of casualties is expected to become much higher as rescue teams try to make their way into more remote areas.”
Development and Peace has distributed parish bulletin announcements and a question and answer document to help Catholics understand the emergency. The earthquake registered 7.8 on the Richter scale and its epicentre was 80 km from Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital.
So far 5,800 people are dead, and more than 7,500 injured, but numbers are expected to rise, CCODP said. “Nepal is one of the poorest countries on the planet,” it said. “Its infrastructure is not designed to cope with an earthquake this strong, the most devastating in over a century.”
There are an estimated 1.4 million people in need of emergency food relief. “Aftershocks continue to strike the region so people are choosing to sleep outdoors even though it is very cold,” the bishops’ development agency said.
CCODP is working with other Caritas agencies in the region, including Caritas Nepal, Caritas India and the Catholic Relief Services office in India. People can find out more about how to donate at www.devp.org
“What the people need immediately is shelter,” said Rev. Pius Perumana, director of Caritas Nepal which is supplying tarps for shelter. “Temperatures are dropping at night and there is also rain. Children are sleeping outside at night. It is really traumatic for them.”
CCODP has already sent $50,000 in emergency relief funds to the region.
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), another Holy See charity, is also active in the region. On April 29, ACN issued a release reporting the eye witness account of Nepal’s Catholic bishop.
Bishop Paul Simick told ACN he “saw houses falling like a pack of cards,” and that people “were running in all directions to save their lives.”
“It was a very, very frightening scene,” the bishop said.
The earthquake’s impact on Nepal’s Catholic community of 10,000 faithful has been “devastating,” he said. “Here in Kathmandu city, many Catholic families have cracks in their houses or major damage.”
But assessing the damage is difficult because of a breakdown in communications due to impassable roads and no domestic flights, leaving many communities cut off, he said.
“I would also like to request your prayer support for the victims’ families who have lost loved ones, those who are still missing loved ones and those who are seriously injured,” he said.
One can find information on how to donate to Aid to the Church in Need via their website — www.acn-aed-ca.org. ACN-Canada executive director Marie-Claude Lalonde said in an email the agency will also apply for the government’s matching funds program.
Canadian Jesuits International is also raising money to support the work of Jesuits in Nepal and their relief efforts. Director Jenny Cafiso said they will also be applying for matching funds and donations can be made through www.canadianjesuitsinternational.ca
There are 50 Jesuits in Nepal who are working with about 1,000 college students to help bring relief to five districts in the country. They are being helped by the Xavier Network of Jesuit organizations and co-operating with the Salesians, according to the Canadian Jesuits International website. They will widen their collaboration to include Caritas.
The Jesuits in Nepal have set up a Facebook page entitled Earthquake Relief by Nepal Jesuits that has many pictures and updates, Cafiso said.