ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - With Caritas "voluntary work" is born in Central Asia

Monday, 13 November 2017 caritas   humanitarian assistance   the elderly   children   poverty   social services   dialogue   voluntary work  

Almaty (Agenzia Fides) - "One of the challenges of Caritas of Almaty is to create a spirit and sensitivity towards charitable actions within people. Kazakhstan does not want to be considered a 'developing country': on the contrary, one almost feels like the UAE, given the enormous oil reserves available. Many fail to understand the reason why incentivize a welfare organization, therefore we often find resistance in the realization of projects, even if small. These situations slow down the take-off of our works: says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Guido Trezzani, Head of Caritas of the Diocese of Almaty. "We are still a very small reality because we have been operating for only three years: Caritas was founded in 2001, but activities began in 2015, in a huge geographic space". The apostolic administration of Almaty, established by John Paul II in 1999 and elevated to diocese in 2003, embraces an area of approximately 712,000 sq km, with a population of almost 6 and a half million inhabitants.
Fr. Trezzani explains: "One of the problems to deal with is the lack of human resources. Here voluntary work almost did not exist, due to the Soviet legacy: during the regime people were accustomed to thinking that social problems were of relevance to the State. This created an attitude of general disinterest, but slowly there is a growing tendency towards a sense of responsibility and the search for solutions". For this reason, at the top of the list of priorities of Caritas of Almaty, there is "the formation of potential volunteers within the Catholic communities of the area".
Caritas projects affect the areas of health and social protection: a pre-school rehabilitation and pre-school center for children with Down syndrome was launched last May, and since early 2017, assistance is offered to senior citizens. These are two key focus areas in a rapidly growing country with a poverty rate of less than 5%, with poorer sectors of the population, especially in the suburbs, with no essential services such as water or electricity.
As Fr. Guido explains, charity is also an important opportunity for interreligious dialogue within a population of 67.8% of Islamic faith: "In many situations, we are able to collaborate with Muslims and Orthodox. It is almost always a matter of support from individuals, because, especially in the case of Islam, there is no real institution comparable to Caritas, which promotes social work even with voluntary work". (LF-PA) (Agenzia Fides 13/11/2017)