Bangladesh, a country in South Asia, has about 163 million inhabitants. 89% of them are Muslims. Hindus make up 9.5% of the total inhabitants, while Catholic Christians, with about 270,000 believers, are only 0.2% of the population. More than 60% of the Christians belong to ethnic minorities and are discriminated against, not only because of their faith but also because of their ethnicity. ACN has been working with the Church of Bangladesh for many years; in 2020 mainly with existential help and Mass stipends.
For some years now, Bangladesh has been experiencing encouraging economic growth, but a large part of the population still suffers from poverty. Due to climate change and natural disasters, many people in rural areas have lost their livelihoods and migrated to urban centres. In 2020, the pandemic made matters worse. The Church is also struggling to meet all its tasks during the coronavirus crisis. Priests and religious sisters have to visit more sick people and, unfortunately, often also hold funerals. ACN supports them – as in the Diocese of Khulna – by providing protective suits, safety goggles and masks.
The Church is not only an important contact point for Christians.
But the virus also claimed its first victim from the local Church: ACN mourns the death of Archbishop Moses Costa of Chittagong, a long-time project partner in Bangladesh and a good friend of our foundation. He died in July as a result of a Covid-19 infection.
At the beginning of the crisis, he had sent us an urgent appeal for help to support the religious sisters working in his archdiocese. With the closure of schools, hostels and wards, the nuns could no longer earn a living. ACN responded to his appeal and supported the religious sisters with existential help and quite a few priests with Mass stipends.