By Chito Chavez
Religious group Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) said on Wednesday it has further expanded its assistance program with its “Aid to Humanity (Lingap sa Mamamayan)’’ reaching India.
“The Iglesia Ni Cristo is further accelerating its aid and assistance programs all over the world. We conducted our very first Aid to Humanity or Lingap sa Mamamayan drive in Vizag in the Indian province of Andhra Pradesh this month. Its success completely exceeded everyone’s expectations,” the INC noted.
Speaking at the INC Central Headquarters in Quezon City, Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo made the remark after the Filipino church conducted a three-day activity in the Indian port city.
“We are humbled by the warm reception of the Indian people. We promised to be back for bigger Aid to Humanity initiatives in the future,” Manalo said.
Manalo said an estimated 8,000 people, representing the poorest citizens in the region, received 15,000 free goodwill bags, which included food and basic necessities.
He added that financial assistance to several local institutions was also provided.
INC Auditor General Glicerio B. Santos, Jr., who led the Filipino delegation, noted that reports from INC volunteers and Indian authorities revealed the activity was the biggest ever humanitarian effort of its kind in Vizag.
“It took a lot of planning. Logistically, we needed to prepare thousands of goodwill packages. We also had to coordinate with the local development authority for securing the venue, assistance in the distribution, and ensuring the program was peaceful and orderly,” Santos said.
Local Indian media picked up the event and reported the activity in television, radio and newspapers in the area.
Santos added the Indian Aid to Humanity was a successful follow-up to the recent North American Lingap caravan last August.
Santos said similar aid events were held a month earlier in Washington, DC and New York, Illinois, Arizona, Tennessee and California, with an estimated 4,000 beneficiaries receiving similar care packages and several humanitarian organizations getting financial assistance.
The Indian event included a brief film showing on the INC’s outreach initiatives in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Australia-New Zealand.
Last May, INC provided assistance to needy and marginalized groups in Montreal, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver.
In late 2018 and early 2019, huge Aid to Humanity and Lingap sa Mamamayan programs were held in Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Macau and Hong Kong, with close to 8,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) attending.
“Iglesia Ni Cristo’s aid and outreach activities circle the globe and provide needed assistance without regard to nationality, gender and even religious and political affiliation. INC Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo’s vision is for us to be at the forefront of the fight against poverty. That’s what we try to do with each Lingap,” Santos said.
“Several other Aid to Humanity events are lined up this year. We plan to make them bigger and more far-reaching. Part of our aim is to make people realize that we Filipinos can be effective providers of material and spiritual support even to those outside of the Philippines,” he added.
Santos said the Indian leg of Lingap was held on September 27 to 29, 2019.
The Aid to Humanity program is conducted under the auspices of the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation.