By Sister Angelina Mitre, El Dorado, Panama

I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. (Mark 8:2) You give them something to eat. (Mark 6:37)

I first became acquainted with the immigrants when they started coming for psychological care at the center where I work.

One day, we heard that the coronavirus was knocking at our doors. The government instituted a quarantine, making the situation very difficult. For people working in the informal sector, that means there is nothing to eat; 44 percent of the population—many of them immigrants—make a living through informal work.

An immigrant-volunteer from Venezuela, left, and Sister Angelina Mitre fill food bags for distribution at the Centro de Orientación y Educación Familiar in Panama City, Panama, where Sister Angelina works.

I awoke to the impact of COVID-19 when immigrants began sending me messages saying: “Sister, we have gone three days without eating, help us.” This struck at my core of maternal mercy. Like our founder Catalina McAuley, I felt challenged by the people’s hardship. I received a list of 234 families. I felt lost. So many people and I didn’t have enough money to offer relief. I said, Lord, what am I going to do? I cannot multiply loaves and fish like You.

We took money from the funds of the Family Education and Counseling Center, our place of ministry. It was insufficient. Where to turn? I sought help in the archdiocese, from well-known people and through our Facebook page. Fortunately, a donation came to the archdiocese. In cooperation with an organization of Nicaraguan immigrants, the bulk of the food and vouchers was distributed. The center is closed, so they came to our house: Nicaraguans, Venezuelans, Colombians and Dominicans, during the allotted time, since we are on quarantine and can only go out for two hours, three times a week. The word has spread, and I keep receiving messages asking for help.

I am still astounded by the people who have joined the effort to provide food to the hungry. I put myself in God’s hands and know that the miracle of multiplying loaves and fishes is possible, with the help of God and of people of good will.