In the residence of Belgrade Archbishopric on 27th of November a press conference related to the visit of the Secretary General of Caritas Europa Jorge Nuño Mayer was held. Mr. Nuño Mayer has a long experience of work in Caritas, on the parish, diocesan and national level and, in the past four years also in Caritas Europa, on the position for which he was elected for another mandate. Caritas Europa unites 46 national Caritas on our continent and, after Caritas Internationalis, represents the most important institution of the Caritas network. The headquarters of Caritas Europa is in Brussels, near the European parliament.
Other than Mr. Nuño Mayer at the conference were present also Belgrade Archbishop and President of Caritas Serbia Msgr. Stanislav Hočevar, National coordinator of Caritas Serbia Darko Tot and Caritas Programe Coordinator Daniel Galun.
Belgrade Archbishop Msgr. Stanislav Hocevar had the opening statement, in which he pointed out that this year our Caritas was close to everyone who were in great needs after the floods.
«Caritas didn’t just give aid to the flooded areas, but the persons, people, because Caritas is always close the people and puts the persons on the first place», said the Archbishop.
He also spoke about the Caritas Sunday, which is celebrated every year in our parishes:
«Every year our Church is celebrating a special day, a special Caritas Sunday, right before Christmas. I will celebrate this Sunday, 14th of December, in Sabac, where our Caritas worked the most. There will be celebrated also a Holy Mass for all those people who lost their lives during the floods and we will also pray for all the people in need and try to invite everyone to a bigger solidarity and, first of all, try to awaken the voluntary work among all our faithful and all the people of good will which is a great task for all of us».
Msgr. Hocevar added that on this day we have a special chance to thank Mr. Nuño Mayer for the trust that was given to Caritas Serbia, which will be part of the executive board of Caritas Europa.
The speech of the Secretary General of Caritas Europa:
«It’s a great pleasure for me that I can represent here the network of Caritas, which is present in more than 160 countries all over Europe. This is not a centralized network, it exists in every country in order to give support to the people in need. It’s a great pleasure that from next year Caritas Serbia will be in part of the Executive board of Caritas Europa. I’m very glad that these days I could see a great acknowledgement, on one hand from the Government, but on the other hand also a recognition of the Serbian people for all that Caritas has done, especially through this support to people affected by floods, but also for what Caritas has done all this years, in terms of home care, in assistance to people with mental health problems. This recognition is a great motivation for Caritas Serbia to continue, but it’s also a sign of dialogue of Caritas and the society of your country.
One of the main elements of the Caritas attention is the development of solidarity in the society, so Caritas is not only the expression of the financial aid coming from abroad, but it’s an expression of solidarity of the people here present. In this context Caritas is much more than an NGO, it has the mission not only to give a professional service, but to promote local engagement. For this reason it is a chalenge for Caritas to grow on the most direct – parish level, because it is in the direct contact with the people in need, as a dimension of the community. In that context we are working on what is the most deepest value of the European union, which is solidarity. The more that Caritas Serbia will serve this country the more it can contribute to the European project. The better that Caritas Serbia will grow in this dimensions the more the solidarity from other countries will come to Serbia, through Caritas».
Daniel Galun, Caritas Program Coordinator, spoke about the Rehabilitation project of assistance to people from the flooded areas:
«Three months ago Caritas started the Rehabilitation program. This program comes after the most urgent phase. Till now we helped 450 households by giving them construction material, with the value bigger than 350.000 EUR, in 11 municipalities of Western and Central Serbia. Caritas is unique in assisting the flooded, because it takes special care of the winter program. In this winter program it helps 800 households in these 11 municipalities in heating, with briquettes and stoves. This Caritas help is not only a help to the flooded population, but it’s also a help to the local economy, cause the stoves are bought in the local factory Alfa plam and the briquettes also.
A few years ago we were giving heating wood for the heating, but now we are using briquettes, which are more acceptable ecologically, so it was important to promote the concept of environmental protection through this distribution. Except this, in four most affected municipalities, like Obrenovac, Krupanj, Sabac and Valjevo, on the local level we established the teams, made out of a social worker, a psychologist and nurses, who give psycho-social support to the affected population and the number of people they helped is around 1000 families in these four municipalities.»
«The Caritas assistance, excluding the Rehabilitation project, was around one million euros, like we said on the last conference in June. This aid continued, so that from the start of the floods till now the total value of the assistance is around 2 million euro», added Darko Tot, Coordinator of Caritas Serbia.
Mr. Jorge Nuño Mayer spoke about the Pope’s visit to the European parliament in Strasbourg, on which he attended right before coming to Serbia.
»What Pope said to the European parliamentarians is an encouragement to continue and foster the dialogue with the Balkan countries, countries seeking for peace and development. In that sense I felt that my trip to Serbia was put in a new context and I felt that the Pope himself send me. Another strong impression I felt from the Pope is his invitation to the politicians to put people in the center whenever they are making decisions. On one hand it means looking at a person as an individual in the realization of his individual human rights, but also to see a person as a part of a community and take care of the common good. This is one of the values that need to exist in decision making. Certain decisions are often motivated by economic reasons and these kind of decisions don’t put the person in the center. The closing message of the Pope is an encouragement to the European politicians to continue with their work on the European project.