GLOBAL OBLATE FUNDRAISERS
By Graciela Etchart
Examples of Oblates directly assisting the people in the regions they serve, a tradition started by our Founder, have abounded during the current pandemics. These examples tell us inspiring individual stories. But they have also offered help in other more subtle, less visible ways, not always known.
Besides providing the spiritual support and more obvious material support in the form of hand sanitisers, soap, tissues, masks, medicines, and food, there were other many other diverse needs, specific to each region of the Oblate world.
When most of the planet shut down and went on shelter-at-home mode with the advice of washing hands after doing almost anything, this piece of advice was not easy to follow in many parts of Africa, where people, mostly women, normally walk two to three or more miles a day to obtain the precious water needed not only for washing but also for drinking and cooking. On the onset of the pandemics, these daily trips were no longer possible. Thus, in some missions, particularly in Angola and Cameroon, Oblates bought tank trucks full of water to distribute among their peoples and any other person that needed it.
In most if not all of Latin America, public universities are free and everybody that qualifies can study and graduate at no-tuition cost. But when COVID hit those countries, universities closed and classes moved online. Except that many young people do not have a personal computer or even internet access in their homes. So, in one mission in Bolivia, Oblates that were planning a project to help their young members with pre-university preparation, purchased a few PCs and installed internet service in four areas of the parish and equipped the chapel classrooms and classrooms with some computers so that these young university students were not relegated in their studies.
Since Oblates care for the integral person, they run clinics in many missions, one of them in the Peruvian Amazon. Although that clinic could help their regular patients, it was not prepared to care for the influx of persons affected by the Coronavirus and to properly protect the clinic personnel. The clinic needed and was re-equipped with protection equipment for medical personnel, cabins for disinfection, oxygen tents and balloons, stretchers and stainless steel cure cars, and medicines used to fight COVID (Azythromycin, Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine).
Finally, as most Oblate Units had to close parishes, schools and retreat houses, their income was significantly reduced. However, as in many of the countries where they serve there are no unemployment benefits, Oblates find ways to continue paying the wages and salaries of their lay employees.
Oblates could provide much of this special aid to their people thanks to the assistance of many generous donors working with the Global Oblate Fundraisers that worked diligently and compassionately to meet these pressing needs.