– Marco Carvalho
A delegation of Caritas Portugal will be in Macau next week to discuss the outlines of a Memorandum of Understanding that was recently signed with Caritas Macau, O Clarim was told. The Secretary-General of the organization, Paul Pun Chi Meng, confirmed the visit and also disclosed that the Portuguese delegation should hold meetings with members of the Portuguese community that lives and works in Macau.
Cooperation between Caritas Macau and the Portuguese branch of Caritas has been virtually interrupted during the last twenty years, following the return of Macau to Chinese sovereignty, but such a disruption should not last for much longer. The reenactment of the close connection that the two organisms kept in the past was discussed during the last Caritas World Meeting, an event that took place in Rome.
Following this first approach, in the Italian capital, Paul Pun Chi Meng traveled to Lisbon, where he signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Board of Directors of the Portuguese branch of Caritas. The protocol envisages the promotion of several joint initiatives in several Portuguese speaking countries: “During my last visit to Portugal, in October, Caritas Macau and Caritas Portugal have signed a memorandum of understanding or a protocol, as they called it. We will try to work together for capacity building, we will try to do something together to benefit some of the Portuguese speaking countries. I invited some representatives of Portuguese Caritas to come to Macau, so we can build on the dialogue we kept and do something together, in order to develop those projects I mentioned,” the Secretary General of Caritas Macau told O Clarim. “The Portuguese delegation will be in Macau from 8th to 11th January. During these few days, I hope I will be able to arrange some opportunity for them to meet the Portuguese community and some of the people that work with Caritas. Our purpose is also to finalize and define some projects that we will try to develop together,” Paul Pun added.
The Portuguese Caritas delegation that will travel to the Special Administrative Region will be headed by the organism’s President Eugénio Fonseca and it will include another member of the Board and the person in charge of the international affairs. Under the recently signed memorandum of understanding, Caritas Macau and Caritas Portugal should work together to strengthen capacity building in other Portuguese speaking countries and regions, such as Timor-Leste and São Tome and Príncipe: “We will seek to boost the intervention capacity of our counterparts in some Portuguese speaking countries. Caritas International has recently introduced management standards. These management standards have to be implemented in different countries and different areas. Some Portuguese-speaking countries want to improve their management and, therefore, they asked for the help of Caritas Portuguesa. They asked for their help, who in turn approached us. Under this cooperation program between Caritas Portuguesa and Caritas Macau we will now try to figure out in which areas we can work together,” Pun Chi Meng said. “We discussed the possibility of working together in countries like São Tomé and Príncipe and East Timor on projects for which those countries may need assistance with regard to intervention capacity,” the Secretary General of Caritas Macau told O Clarim.
In addition to São Tomé and Princípe and East Timor the protocol should also extend to Guinea-Bissau, the President of Portuguese Caritas told Lusa Agency in mid-December. Eugénio Fonseca also explained to the Portuguese news agency that the recently signed memorandum of understanding envisages the involvement of Caritas Macau in a few specific projects in Portugal, namely social programs aimed at unemployed people or people in very precarious employment situations: “We are counting on Caritas Macau’s support for internal projects, particularly concerning the unemployed,” Mr. Fonseca said.
The chairman of the Board of Directors of Caritas Portugal also explained that the organism led by Paul Pun has also shown availability to finance projects related to the dissemination of the Chinese language. According to Eugénio Fonseca, Caritas Macau is willing to support Putonghua teaching programs, not only with the aim of attracting new students, but also of helping those that want to improve the way they speak.
As a first stage, the flow of cooperation will have only one direction, the president of Caritas Portuguesa told Lusa. Eugénio Fonseca pointed out that, in Macau, an intervention by Caritas Portuguesa is not presently seen as a necessity. Unburdened in financial terms, Caritas Macau has shown willingness to help its counterparts of Guinea-Bissau and São Tomé and Princípe, Eugénio Fonseca told Lusa. The purpose, adds the chairman of Caritas Portugal, is to help build both physical and social structures, so that the impoverished Caritas of the two African nations can apply for projects and obtain funds.
Paul Pun is convinced that the first set of cooperation projects will be implemented shortly after the visit of the Portuguese delegation to the Special Administrative Region. The organization he heads has already offered its Portuguese counterpart the guarantee that it will start by financing a few small projects. The recently signed memorandum of understanding is expected to bear fruit later this semester, the Caritas Secretary-General contends: “In the next few weeks, hopefully, we will be able to do something together. We already told the Portuguese Caritas that we will start some small projects. They are eager to cooperate with us in this kind of projects,” Mr Pun Chi Meng claimed. “This sort of cooperation should have started earlier. Anyway, we’ll try to capture the opportunity to do it now,” he asserted.