Vulnerable People Project works to bring heat to Afghans facing harsh winter — By: Catholic News Agency

Founder and President of the Vulnerable People Project Jason Jones speaks to “EWTN News Nightly” host Tracy Sabol on Dec. 8, 2023. / Credit: “EWTN News Nightly”

CNA Staff, Dec 27, 2023 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Afghans are facing yet another brutal winter with millions struggling to buy fuel to stay warm. One Catholic organization is working to help with this burden during the Christmas season.

Jason Jones, founder and president of The Vulnerable People Project (VPP), joined “EWTN News Nightly” on Dec. 8 to discuss the work his group is doing to help those suffering in Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

“Coal for Christmas” is an initiative with the goal of bringing 20 million hours of heat and more than 2 million meals to poor communities in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Malawi, and Mongolia.

The Christmas campaign began on Dec. 6 and will run to the new year. 

Jones told host Tracy Sabol that the campaign began in 2021 in an effort to support the widows and orphans of Afghan allies who were killed in action as well as the Afghan allies who were left in Afghanistan after the United States withdrew from the country. 

“In the first two years of the program, we’ve distributed enough coal to provide 40 million hours of heat and 5 million meals to the widows and orphans of our allies who were killed, our allies in hiding, and to religious and ethnic minorities suffering acute hunger,” he shared.

“What we hope that we do through our ‘Coal for Christmas’ campaign, modeling our work after St. Nicholas’ example, is to stand with the poorest of the poor in the world as they suffer and strive to survive this brutal winter,” he added.

In addition to heat and meals, VPP has built a women’s medical center in Afghanistan and has provided security for girls’ schools. 

This year, “Coal for Christmas” has started to work with the Catholic community in Mongolia. Jones shared that they were able to purchase 40 tons of coal that would be distributed to the Christian communities in Mongolia.

VPP is also working to launch an effort in the Philippines. The group is working with Catholic communities in the country to start their “Vulnerable Parish Project” and open a VPP office in the city of Mindanao in 2024. 

The Vulnerable Parish Project seeks to provide “physical security, cameras, security guards, and also food security to the poorest Catholic parishes in the world,” Jones explained. 

After four Catholics were killed in a bombing during a Mass being celebrated in a school gymnasium in southern Philippines, the opening of a VPP office in Mindanao became the group’s top priority in regards to their work in the country for 2024.

“As a Catholic apostolate that seeks to serve the most vulnerable people in the world, of course we first seek to stand with our own co-religionists as they suffer persecution, extreme hunger, and exposure,” Jones said. 

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