A Catholic priest in Myanmar started to offer low-price meals for the poor beginning from December 13.
Father Mercian Thet Kyaw, the parish priest of Epiphany Church in Myanmar's Yangon Archdiocese, began what is now known in the local language as ‘500 Kyats Charity Meals.'
The meals help the poor with an affordable price of 500 kyats (500 Myanmar Kyats is around USD 0.30).
The priest was inspired by others who started selling low-price meals during the covid pandemic and amid political crises.
"In a time of food scarcity, people are trying to solve problems according to one's inspiration. With this, I ask myself, why can't we do such thing to help make the people's lives easier," said Father Mercian.
The words of Pope Francis inspire the priest: the light of Christmas makes us rediscover the sense of brotherhood and urges us to show solidarity with those in need.
Father Mercian felt that people support their pastors. "When people are in difficult times of COVID-19 crisis, it's the shepherd's responsibility to take care of the flock."
The Charity Meal in the local language means Karuna Meal.
"How can the parishioners reveal their compassion towards the needy in concrete action? Selling 500 Kyats meal is counted among their charitable activities," the priest said.
Father Mercian himself started to invest 500,000 Kyats (around 300 USD) and the amount of 3,200,000 (around USD 2,000) was collected within two weeks from the people supporting the activity.
The priest intends to continue the Charity Meals for three months. The Karuna Meals is carried for five days a week from Monday to Friday.
On day one, around 200 people showed up and over 30 volunteered for the event. The priest increased the number of meals per day according to the response of the beneficiaries.
Ma Barbra, the first president of parish women's association, said that it is "an opportunity for encouraging the parishioners to help the people within and outside of the parish community of various faith."
"It is a way for the parishioners to sacrifice their ability for others. The idea of Father Mercian is making the lives of people easier," she said.
The meal is mostly beans and vegetables, but occasionally, the Charity Meals contain chicken, pork or eggs.
"It is strengthening the unity in the parish. Since our activity is mainly meant to make the lives of the poor easier, said Daw Alle, the second president of parish women's association.
Marcus Htun Htun Oo, president of St. Vincent de Paul association of Epiphany parish, urges people to be charitable during Christmas time.
"It can be a kind of charitable activity during Christmas time. It seems appropriate to the season in which we are invited to give and share whatever we can with the poor," said Marcus Htun Htun Oo.
Under the leadership of Father Mercian, Epiphany parish distributed rice, cooking oil, salt and other goods more than ten times to the less fortunate since the beginning of the pandemic.
The parish church facilities also serve as a caring center for COVID-19 patients, irrespective of faith affiliations.