KOLPING Asia: regional network as chance in pandemic
On February 2, 2021, the board members and representatives of the Asian Kolping Associations, the AsiKA (Asian Kolping Associations) from India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Timor-Leste met for their first virtual get-together. They thus followed up on the last face-to-face meeting in March 2019 in Ho Chi Minh City and welcomed the start of Dr. Hildegard Hagemann, who, based in Vietnam, will act as coordinator of the network for the next three years. Despite the great opportunity of this virtual collaboration, there are of course challenges. The internet connection to East Timor was not stable and was frequently interrupted. Fortunately, the exchange could be maintained via the detour between Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Particularly regrettable and worrying, however, was the shutdown of the Internet in Myanmar, which prevented participation. AsiKA members included their brothers and sisters in Myanmar in their prayers.
The content of this first meeting was about how the Kolping associations deal with the pandemic and an exchange on current developments in the associations and local churches. All Kolping associations suffer from the risk that dormant activities can also lead to a decrease in solidarity between the Kolping families. On the other hand, the Kolping Families draw strength and energy from the solidarity they experience and find ways of communicating with one another as well as the support of fellow human beings in their local area. Above all, the connection to the worldwide Kolping community through KOLPING INTERNATIONAL in Cologne was and is important.
The need to intensify cooperation and joint advocacy for urgent issues came out strongly: For example, the consequences of the encyclical Laudato Si and the urgent question of fair working conditions for migrant workers preoccupied the AsiKA as early as 2019. The vulnerability was particularly evident in times of the pandemic of migrants and workers in the informal economy. Therefore, the transformation of the informal economy into a resilient, sustainable and secure form of income generation is crucial for many Kolping members.
The participants decided to have a regular exchange every three months. A steering group with Father Dr Maria Soosai, National Director Kolping India, Paulus Parera, Kolping Indonesia and Dr Hildegard Hagemann will prepare the next meeting. AsiKA is confident that it will turn the global crisis into an opportunity for the regional network.
Dr. Hildegard Hagemann