A new leap forward of the Camillian witnessing
The year 2020 was devastating for global health because of an unknown virus (Covid 19) rapidly emerging as the greatest threat to human life. It paralyzes the functioning of all vital systems, which pressures the world leaders to act as one. It threatens to set back hard-won global health progress achieved over the past two decades in fighting against infectious diseases.
(cf. WHO, 2021). Furthermore, it threatens the freedom of mobility of individuals when national governments are taking a hard stance on border controls and even imposing granular lockdowns, which literally impeding people from moving out of their habitation. With more people traveling to other countries and living in crowded cities, it’s easier for the virus to spread. Infectious diseases that start in one part of the world can quickly reach another.
The effects of a globalized economy, fast migration of labor forces, forced displacement, and changes to agricultural practices have resulted in health problems transcending international borders. All these changes in various degrees interact with the natural environment, severely affecting the harmony of our ecosystem. Storms, flooding, droughts, and air pollution make it easier for diseases to spread across large groups of human and animal populations. “Climate change is thought by many global health experts to be the greatest threat to human health.” (Dr. Calum Macpherson, 2021). Thus, neglecting the climate health issue in combating this pandemic might defeat the initial gains such as the Covid 19 vaccines.
Medical solutions must be accompanied by political solutions such as the prevention of environmental challenges.
Looking at the context in which we are publishing this special issue of Crossover, undoubtedly significant challenges lie ahead to the Camillian Disaster Service International (CADIS) Foundation. The first six years of CADIS have proven its readiness and vitality in rebuilding a fully resilient community in places most vulnerable to natural and human-made disasters. Its experience in disaster response management demonstrates its capacity and unique contribution to the global humanitarian mission and disaster ministry.
From its “locus theologicus” - the Camillian charism - this ministry has definitely enriched the fourth vow of service to the sick even at the risk of one’s life. It is not so much the fact of risking one’s life during a humanitarian mission that realizes the vow but the conscious, competent, and compassionate (3Cs) response to the pleas of the most vulnerable affected by the disaster. This dynamic process (3Cs) of responding to the “cry of the poor” (survivors of disasters) is an essential method of making our response (ministry) more meaningful and faithful to our human and divine vocation. It begins with listening to and learning from the event around it. It demands physical presence and encounter with the most vulnerable. An intelligent understanding of the situation will bring us to the pathways of rebuilding community resilience and, at the same time, deepens our commitment to serving them even at the risk of our lives. At the beginning of their Pontificates, Saint John Paul II called everyone “to open the doors to Christ,” and Pope Francis unveiled his missionary platform, “a Church that goes forth.” There is so much to see, listen and learn outside the confines of our comfort zones. The World Risk Report of 2020 reaffirms: “The more fragile the infrastructure network, the greater the extent of extreme poverty and inequality and the worse the access to the public health system, the more susceptible a society is to natural events. Extreme natural events cannot be prevented directly, but countries can reduce disaster risk by fighting poverty and hunger, strengthening education and health, and taking preparedness measures.
The vulnerability of the society crucially depends on the population’s health status and health care and its functioning in crisis and disaster situations. [...] the causal link works both ways.
Not only do health and healthcare determine the disaster risk, but disasters have a negative impact on a society’s state of health if they overstrain or undermine the prevailing structures for the provision of care in its healthcare system.” (cf.
CADIS is conceived as a concrete initiative in seeking an innovative and prophetic mode of being a Camillian. It is a new way of being a Camillian but deeply rooted in its past - the legacy and patrimony of the Camillian martyrs of charity. It is becoming bold in its global intervention of building a resilient community where people are affected or exposed to natural and human-made disasters. It is growing a lot in its mission of promoting community-based integral health programs for the well-being of disaster-stricken communities through conscious, competent, and compassionate interventions. It is a leap from the top-down to the bottom-up approach of ministering to the suffering humanity. Above all, it attempts to harness our charity informed with justice as CADIS’s primary theory of change in all its humanitarian response.
In this special report of CADIS, you will find some of the most significant experiences and learnings from “field hospitals” (Pope Francis) where our confreres and friends have worked, and the reflections and discourses borne out of the actual experiences. These lived experiences, faith witnessings, and dynamic inspiration will serve as our resources in facing the new challenges ahead and continuing the journey which started four centuries ago. The path forward is marked by signs and call for a deeper engagement with the most vulnerable. Without their inputs, our initiatives will end up motivated only by sheer compliance to what we thought we are supposed to do. Without their active participation, our initiatives will fall short of a lasting impact. As the famous African proverb says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." Transformation happens when the "transformer" (agent) and the "transformee" (subject) are mutually transformed.