Alay Kapwa – Your contribution towards One Human Family without Poverty and Hunger In preparation for Easter
“I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink….”
– Matthew 25: 35-36 –
Ash Wednesday, 5 March 2014, marks the beginning of Lenten season, when Catholics prepare 40 days before the Holy Week and Easter. While parishes in all Dioceses have their own way to reflect on this journey, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) launches its annual Lenten Campaign or Alay Kapwa (AK) Campaign through the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (NASSA) by encouraging the faithful to reflect on the theme: One Human Family without Poverty and Hunger.
The Lenten season is a time for preparing ourselves for the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, by journeying with him in his ministry of love, mercy, righteousness, justice and a new way of living like God the Father, by loving our neighbors, especially the poor and marginalized among us, by reflecting on the suffering of our Kapwa as the suffering of Jesus, and His sacrifice for us to the extent of dying for us. We are called to reflect on injustice/ unjust structures in our society, especially how it affects our poor sisters and brothers, how we can change it through sacrifice/ giving of ourselves through living in simplicity and concrete action that can address their condition.
The theme this year is in line with Global Anti-Poverty Campaign (GAPC) – One Human Family, Food for All, which was launched last December 2013 with a “wave of Prayer” and with the blessing and support of our Holy Father, Pope Francis (refer to video message at <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvC-k1ai71Q>) by reminding us about the story of 5 loaves and 2 fishes, which Jesus asked he disciples to find, as well as the scandal that 1 billion people suffering hunger in a world where there is enough food for all, and appeal to act as one human family to ensure food for all. (See also http://www.caritas.org/2013/12/global-hunger-scandal-says-pope-francis/.) Led by Caritas Internationalis, the campaign brings attention to those who suffer hunger and poverty. NASSA takes on the theme as it launches the National Alay Kapwa Campaign in the three regions this year: Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao (hosted by Social Action Center of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro) on 3-4 March; Bacolod in Visayas (hosted by Social Action Center of Diocese of Bacolod) on 6-7 March; and Pampanga in Luzon (hosted by Social Action Center of Pampanga/ SACOP) on 12-13 March. Simultaneous launching are also being held in the Dioceses of Iba, Lucena, Iligan, among others.
Modules with weekly reflection guides and activities on the theme has been prepared in a booklet and distributed to all 86 Dioceses in the country and all Catholic-run Schools in Metro Manila, accompanied by posters and calendars. These guides help reflect on the Gospel of the Sundays which are integrated with issues of social concern related to the theme and how we should respond and act. Upon reflection, we are expected to express more concern and concrete action – reflected in change of our behaviour and daily action – to rise again in glory and new life with Jesus on Easter.
Based on this year’s theme, we are encouraged to reflect on hunger and poverty issues beginning with our experience with our neighbors and going beyond ourselves, from the issues of human trafficking, in times of disaster and oppression of the poor through power and injustice, and reclaim human dignity through Christ’s mission in salvation, joy of the Gospel and Resurrection.
One concrete action that can be taken is to make a little sacrifice every day and donate the monetary equivalent of the saving or sacrifice for the poor. Your collection are gathered by the Diocese for sharing with the poor and vulnerable, especially in times of disaster like Typhoon Yolanda and Earthquake in Bohol/ Cebu last year, as well as other related education, development and advocacy activities in the Diocese. Part of the collection is remitted to the Alay Kapwa Program of NASSA each year, which will be a solidarity fund in times of calamities, where huge amounts of funds may be needed immediately to address urgent needs of the affected Dioceses/ areas, before the donation from Diocesan and International partners start to arrive. Thanks to your sacrifices and contribution, total of 7.9 M pesos was immediately disbursed for 36,000 households in all the affected Dioceses within 2 weeks after Typhoon Yolanda made its first landfall on 8 November 2013.
Your contribution to Alay Kapwa also supports other advocacy/ campaign needs of basic sectors, such as farmers, indigenous peoples and contractualized workers, who struggle for justice and found the need to bring their concerns up to the National level, having no fruitful response at their local level. Formation of Church leaders and workers on social concern and action is also part of this campaign.
Earlier in June 2013, Alay Kapwa Year-Round Module was published for the first time, with the same theme. It is intended to mark our country’s participation with 164 Caritases in 200 countries in preparing and planning for the GAPC led by Caritas Internationalis, to end poverty by 2025.
More information on the Alay Kapwa Launching and the reflection modules can be directed to Sweet Cruz, the Alay Kapwa National Program Coordinator of CBCP-NASSA at <email@example.com>.
5 March 2014
National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace/ Caritas Philippines