On the 27th March 2020, the Mount Saint Joseph Jesuit community took a decision to venture into the Covid Care relief work at the wake of national Covid lockdown. The target group was initially our poor parishioners of Kalena Agrahara, Bangalore. Prerana Ignatian Spirituality Centre agreed to cook the food and supply. Since then we have turned our house into an important large-scale hub of food distribution in the form of Covid Care Kits.
Our target groups are: Daily wage earners, widows, and stranded migrant workers from other parts of Karnataka and North of India
Through our Jesuit Fr Francis Guntipilly, we got in touch with Covid Relief Bangalore (CRB), an association of Jesuit Alumni of XLRI in Bangalore.
We work in three phases:
- Identify an area and make the survey
- Verification of the survey with coupon distribution
- Ration distribution
Expansion: From our parish territory we have moved beyond our Mount St Joseph campus. We cover around 15 kilometers from our campus. In the last 30 days we have distributed 9000+ Covid care kits reaching out to more than 36,000 people. Everyday 40-300 care kits are being distributed in the surrounding areas. Our Loyola College building has turned into a relief procuring and distribution hub with a number of young adults working as volunteers. Senior Jesuits have been involved in making paper bags and the young in reaching out the people in various locations.
A Covid care kit contains rice, dal, oil, masala powder, salt, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cabbages, beetroot, capsicum, etc. This has added to the nutrition of the people and enhanced the quality of the ration. Since supply chain is broken in this lockdown, the farmers are unable to sell their products in the market. So, we directly buy from them at the fair price.
Partnership: We are working in partnership with many NGO’s, Catholic religious houses, auto drivers, fruit vendors, women and youth. This has built our local contacts tremendously and network is happening.
Lockdown distress: Daily wage earners’ livelihood is affected, businesses are closed, salaries of people working in garment factories are not paid, daily wages of domestic workers are not given, children have lost focus, youth are in crossroads as exams are postponed, elderly are scared, spiritual assistance is scarce as temples, mosques, and church’s closed.
Good news: Like-minded people have come together to help the people in distress, Covid care kits has brought people closer as people are least bothered about caste, creed, religion and gender. Everyone feels that they need help and need to help each other.
MSJ Covid Care Kit Relief Work Coordinator: Fr Teyol Machado, SJ, +918867360195, Email: [email protected]
Report by Olvin Veigas, SJ, Bangalore, 25th April 2020