The partial lockdown that was ordered by the Macau health authorities on July 11th aggravated the desperate situation in which thousands of people found themselves. The hopeless situation transformed Caritas once again into a safe haven for hundreds of workers facing hunger and food insecurity.
The organization’s Food Sharing Program has received about five hundred requests for immediate assistance ever since the lockdown was imposed. The partial confinement brought a slight increase in the number of people asking Caritas for help, but the extent is still significantly lower compared to the numbers recorded by Caritas during the first phase of the pandemic. “During the partial lockdown period, through our Food Sharing Program, we managed to lend a helping hand to about five hundred people. However, one year ago, we used to help a thousand people. And if we go back two years, that number was even larger. There was a time when we helped around two thousand people. This means that, over time, this number has decreased,” the secretary general of Caritas, Paul Pun, told O Clarim.
He adds, “Since the partial lockdown was imposed, we have offered food to about five hundred people, but our predictions are that this number could increase.”
Created by Caritas in September 2020, the Food Sharing Program is primarily intended to support non-resident workers. Amongst those who have requested food support from Caritas over the past three weeks were mainly members of some of Macau’s largest migrant communities. Most of the requests were made by Filipino, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Burmese citizens, but Caritas was also approached by non-resident workers from the People’s Republic of China and even by local residents who were also affected by the pandemic.
Paul Pun says, “As far as Macau residents are concerned, some of them also lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Occasionally, our services also come across someone who needs our support, particularly in regard to food. Since this is not a very significant number, what we do is refer them to the Food Bank sponsored by the Government of Macau, so that they do not have to get food from our Food Sharing Program. We usually refer them to the Food Bank supported by the Social Welfare Bureau and managed by Caritas.”