Caritas India Launches the Kerala Rebuilding Programme amidst International Volunteers Day Celebrations

#EUAidVolunteers: 600 volunteers pledged to contribute half an hour a day for social work and to work for the benefit of the society

6th December, 2018 marks yet another benchmark in Caritas India’s 56 years of service to the society. In partnership with EU Aid Volunteers, CI celebrated the International Volunteers Day in Kerala at POC, Kochi, in a one-of-a-kind programme that was graced by KCBC bishops, DSSS Directors and staff and nearly 600 volunteers!

As UN recognizes volunteers worldwide through “Volunteers Build Resilient Communities”, the tagline for IVD 2018, and a special focus on local community volunteers – Kerala presents the perfect picture to celebrate the event in its true sense – to appreciate the selfless services of its local volunteers during the Kerala Floods, 2018.

Fr. Paul Moonjely, Executive Director of Caritas India inaugurated the celebrations with a heart-warming speech.  He said: “The first volunteer, in its true spirit, was Jesus Christ; just like how he served the people through love, we as volunteers should follow the same path. Also, it is through service to the society that we can achieve social resilience”.  The exemplary services of the Kerala volunteers, without who, the response during the Kerala deluge wouldn’t have been as efficient as it had been, was also acknowledged through a humble token of our appreciation. It was a proud moment for Caritas India when all the KCBC bishops stood up to salute the volunteers, and, the spirit of volunteerism.

The opportunity was also utilized to provide some insights on the role of a volunteer and to discuss the future scope of volunteerism in Kerala by Mr. Rajan M Karakkattil, Project Manager, Caritas India -Kerala. This was followed by a sharing session which saw a few of the bravest hearts rendering touching stories and experiences from the deluge.

The event, thus was also the perfect platform to officially launch the Kerala Floods Rebuilding Programme. His Beatitude Baselios Cardinal Cleemis (Major Archbishop & Catholicos of MCC) officially inaugurated the launch by lighting the lamp. During his speech, he recollected and appreciated all the efforts by the Catholic Church and Caritas in response to the Kerala Floods. “In rebuilding to create resilient communities, the role played by volunteers will be greatly influential”, he shared.

In his presidential address, His Grace Most Rev Dr. Soosa Pakiam (President KCBC) remembered the marginalized and the fishermen folk who played a huge role in the Kerala Floods Rescue and Relief operations. He reminisced while the time and selfless service rendered by them is priceless, they have also contributed whatever little they can for the rebuilding process. He also rightly pointed out “voluntary service is a symbol of conveying the message Jesus Christ taught the world – reaching out to the neediest with love and selfless zeal”.

Fr. George Vettikaattil, Secretary JPD Commission and Director, KSSF presented a short presentation of the Church’s response to the 2018 Kerala Floods and its future plan of action as part of the rebuilding programme. Fr. Jolly Puthenpura, Assistant Director, Caritas India gave the Vote of Thanks by sharing a special message – through a mention of the selfless service by the tribes in Chhattisgarh, who despite their shortcomings, managed to mobilize 7 lakhs to donate for the Kerala Flood relief. He shared the kind gesture was unforgettable – a token of the joy of giving and a reminder for all of us to help our brethren in times of need.

Overall, the IVD celebrations and the Kerala Rebuilding Programme launch officially kickstarted the Volunteerism Movement of Caritas India in Kerala. Together with our wide network of volunteers, we hope and look forward to contributing to the development of the poorest sections of the society through the Floods Rebuilding Programme. May the foundation that was laid today prove that great things can be done together, and small acts can be coloured with love.