In recent past, unemployment and insecurity had been our major challenges. This year, Fulani intrusion with their human massacre left many villages in the middle belt and Southern Nigeria in fear, especially the areas that grow crops to feed the nation. Moreover, people have been killed in farms and women have been sexually abused. A good number of people have abandoned their farm lands and came to the city with hope of being employed, yet to no avail. The outcome of this is hardship. In addition, some men have abandoned their families when life became very unbearable for them, and as a result of that, their poor wives who have no means of livelihood are left to look after themselves and their children.
These have led to a massive increase in people’s coming for alms at the Caritas desk. Some of the reasons are:
- Many of the clients have health challenges. They can neither pay their hospital bills nor buy their drugs.
- Some are thrown out of their homes by their land Lords because they are not able to pay their house rents while some have no place to lay their heads.
- Many cannot afford a meal a day.
- Some living with disabilities are rejected by their relatives because of cultural beliefs.
- Some husbands left their wives and children when the life is tough.
- Many are thrown out of jobs and are asking the office for assistance to start small business.
- Some ask for money to complete their school fees or buy handouts.
- While some that are stranded, and are asking for transport fare.
Sources of Income
Catholic Diocese of Enugu is the paramount source of our income. The fund used on Caritas desk is the Diocesan Lenten fast collection, Fridays collection after stations of the cross, 20% Caritas Week collection from all the parishes in Enugu Diocese and offertory collections from CIDJAP chapel. Last year, Diocese gave one million Naira (₦1,000,000) in January 2016 and seven hundred and fifty thousand naira (₦750,000) from Caritas week 20% collection in September 2016.
Beneficiaries of Caritas?
Caritas desk is open to clients from all parts of Nigeria and beyond irrespective of their religion or tribe. We have clients from Cameroun. Muslim clients from Ogun, Zakibian, Delta, Idoma come at Caritas desk for assistance. The number of clients that rushed to the Bishop’s office and parishes for assistance daily who were referred to get help from Caritas desk were so many. The money Caritas received in 2016 did not go a long way in meeting client’s needs. The number of clients and the amount they wanted were high that many clients left the desk unsatisfied. Many left without been helped because fund was not available.
Activities done by Caritas Department
The Caritas Co-ordinator, Rev. Sr. Victoria Ezeh attended the 2016 Catholic Diocese of Enugu Cathedraticum which kicked off on 2nd March 2016, at Agbani Deanery; on 3rd March 2016, at Aguobu Owa Deanery; on 8th March 2016, at Emene Deanery; on 10th March 2016, at Nkwo Nike Deanery; on 15th March 2016, at Udi Deanery and finally on 17th March 2016, at Enugu Deanery.
Fig 4: The foods items given to the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, Rt. Rev Dr. C.V.C Callistus Onaga at Udi Deanery during the 2016 Cathedraticum
Food items giving to Caritas Department from Enugu diocesan Cathedraticum.
In the year 2016, they item received are as follows:
- Agbani Deanery
- Aguobu Owa Deanery
- Emene Deanery
- Nkwo Nike Deanery
- Udi Deanery
- Enugu Deanery
Caritas is a week set apart by Enugu Diocese to fundraise for the poor in all the parishes in the Diocese. On Caritas week, cash, food stuff, fairly used clothes and shoes are donated. 80% of the cash is kept in the parish while 20% is submitted to the diocese for the work for the year. Last year, Caritas week was 10th to 17th April 2016 in different parishes. Rev. Sr. Victoria Ezeh (MSHR), the coordinator of Caritas Desk in Enugu Diocese, captioned the theme of this year ‘s Caritas week to be: “Be merciful as your heavenly father is merciful”. She prepared beautiful posters with topics to be reflected on, from 10th to 17th April 2016. These posters were distributed to all the parishes in the Diocese.
Caritas week 2016 in CIDJAPShe invited some of the philanthropists within Enugu and all the Parishes in Enugu Diocese on Thursday, 14th April 2016 at CIDJAP, Uwani, for the fundraising for the poor. At 10:00 am that day, the occasion commenced with Holy Mass led by the chief celebrant Rev. Fr. Dr. Chinedu .O. Anieke, Former Director of CIDJAP. Rev. Msgr. Christopher Enem, the Parish Priest of St. Theresa’s parish Abor, and the Chaplain of St. Vincent De Paul in Enugu Diocese, gave a powerful reflection on the theme. The attendance to the Caritas week was very commendable.
Fig 1: The invited guests and CIDJAP staff listening to Rev. Msgr. Christopher Enem at Caritas week celebration at CIDJAP, Uwani, Enugu.
Celebration of Caritas week in parishes.
Feeding and sharing of the food and fairly used items collected are made on the Saturday of the week. Below are the pictures of the collections and feeding.
Fairly used clothes and shoes donated for the poor at Holy Trinity Independence Layout Enugu
Feeding of the poor during caritas week at Holy Trinity parish
2016 Christmas celebration for the poor at CIDJAP
Christmas celebration for the poor in the year 2016 was difficult despite the fact the appeal letters were given on time to people and parishes due to hardship in the country. Caritas desk had neither food stuff nor money to buy food items. With the hardship, clients came in a mass to demand for food for their Christmas. Only Umuchinemere MicroFinance and Procredit Bank donated ₦50,000. The price of a bag of rice was ₦25, 000, Beans was ₦35,000. It was then that appeal letter was given to Msgr. Obiora Ike who gave hope to the poor. I got alert of ₦250, 000 from Msgr. on the last day CIDJAP closed for Christmas while the poor were at CIDJAP waiting for their Christmas food. Immediately I got hold of the money, I beckoned on St. Vincent De Paul members around me and dashed down to Akwata market at Ogbete Enugu and bought bags of beans, rice, tomatoes, cooking oil, and spices for the clients. They big number were extremely happy to receive the food items for their Christmas that day. Sharing of food at their homes went on to the New Year as some did not hear because many stopped frequenting Caritas Department due to lack funds and food items at Caritas Desk since September 2016.
Food items ready for distribution and clients waiting to be called
Liturgy in CIDJAP
Caritas Coordinator looks after prayers and masses at CIDJAP. She organizes retreats for Easter and Christmas for the staff. Although CIDJAP chapel is a private chapel but some liturgical celebrations are celebrated in the chapel.
We always have masses every Wednesdays and Fridays whenever Priest is available. CIDJAP staff, students from library, cyber café, Umuchinemere Micro Finance Bankers and workers, including people living or working near CIDJAP normally come for 12:00 pm mass at the Chapel. Some received some Sacraments, like Sacrament of reconciliation and baptism.
Emmanuel Agu, the son of a CIDJAP staff Mrs. Kelechi Agu was baptized in the chapel by Rev. Fr. Paul Akpomie (OP) on June 25, 2016.
Fig 2: The baptism of Emmanuel Agu at CIDJAP chapel by Rev. Fr. Paul Akpomie.
On the 25th of April, 2017, CIIDJAP celebrates one year anniversary of the new administration at CIDJAP chapel.
The new Director of CIDJAP, Rev. Fr. Dr. Chinedu O. Anieke celebrating Mass for his one year in administration as CIDJAP Director in CIDJAP chapel.
Caritas department organized a day of reflection in preparation for Easter, for the CIDJAP staff at Ofuobi African Centre. The theme of the retreat was “Let go”. The retreat moderator was Rev. Fr. Paschal Onionye, a Capuchin. His reflection made impact on the staff.
Fig 3: The Easter retreat for the CIDJAP staff at Ofuobi African centre.
Christmas retreat was organized by Caritas coordinator. CIDJAP staff attended the retreat. Rev. Msgr. Obiora Ike the founder of CIDJAP facilitated the retreat.
The rosary procession during Christmas retreat
After the rosary, Msgr. gave a powerful reflection. He put emphasis on “who we are in our departments”. Who I am at my work on Caritas Desk?
Msgr. Obiora Ike’s input during the Christmas retreat 2015
After the input, we grouped ourselves into departments. We identified who we were in the department first and focused on how we were delivering our services in various departments. The second day, we looked at challenges and the practical suggestions on a way out to enhance a better service.
Caring for the poor has always being part of the mission of the church. The Caritas desk since inception in 1996 has put smiles on the faces of many orphans, widows, disabled, poor, sick, needy, destitute, war victims, displaced persons by the delivery of healthcare services, hospital bills, financial grants as well as emergency relief supplies of food, medicine and clothing.
The Caritas desk of CIDJAP is on the forefront of reaching out to these members of our society.
This office attends to the needs of various groups on daily basis raging from giving out food items to the hungry, paying hospital bills, paying of house rent, beginning small scale businesses for some poor people especially women, etc.
In the last few years, the number of persecuted christians needing help who are victims of Boko Haram terrorist attacks have increased.
Caristas caters for over 550 persons requiring help. Over 200 of these persons have health challenges, over 100 of these persons need feeding and dietary support, etc.
CIDJAP through the Caritas desk have continuously supported all these persons according to the available resources and has saved nothing in seeing that the poor in our society are uplifted in body and soul.
With all these support, Caritas desk of CIDJAP has being able to put smiles on the faces of many poor people. But it all seems like scratching the mountain.
Caritas Department 2013 Update
Within 2013, the Caritas desk has helped many poor persons who come to them for help including persecuted Christians from the crisis regions in the country where the hostility of the Boko Haram is predominant. The desk has over 460 clients on their role whom they support.
185 of this number are with some health challenges. 100 need feeding and dietary support. 20 come under the small and medium business people who come for financial support, and 43 who are linked to education support. 8 families depend on this desk while other needs count about 104.
The desk has also been able to provide 10 wheel chairs for their immobilized clients and a wheel barrow for a victim of the Boko Haram victim to start a new life from somewhere.
The desk is not without challenges. She suffers insufficient funding as the clients' need are not met but are only managed. They desire to be independent and be able to fend for themselves as reported by the desk officer. They also have high need for a car to reach the poorest of the poor in their remote areas of domicile.
They are however grateful to the CSI for their financial intervention which has helped them to solve some problems. They cannot but ask for more. The St. Vincent de Paul Pious groups are not left out in the number to be appreciated. They remain grateful and indebted to them for their support; they have been a wonderful team.
Caritas Department 2012 Update
Within the months of the year 2012 ended, the Caritas department has been pro-occupied with helping the poor and meeting them at their different points of need.
The department has clusters of persons who are suffering ill health and are hospitalized. There are also those who are without food and cloth, those who need financial support to start up something for family support.
Prominent among the health cases supported by the Caritas department of CIDJAP are;
- an amputee man of 26 years who was seen through medication and has been admitted into the university to study and develop the self for a better future
- a woman with intestine problem who was operated upon and the bills paid while she is recovering in good health and
- a child of 6 years with a hole in the heart whose case is yet being followed.
However, Caritas department has a record of 338 clients who come to her for one form of financial or material help/support.
There are numerous others who are not on record because they take advice and counseling from the Reverend Sister Onyinyechukwu Ezejesi who is in charge of the department.
The Caritas department involved herself in several other issues which included;
- Cathedraticum wherein some food items given to the Bishop of the Diocese are shared to the destitutes and peasants who need help
- Lenten fast, a medium of small collections for helping the poor and wretched of the society
- Caritas week, an annual week's programme for identifying with the poor and those in need in the Diocese
- Deanery meetings where the social welfare network of the Diocese is brought together to assist in the services to the poor and needy in the Diocese.