Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Covid Care Diary: Keeping Clean & Sane with Soaps

MSJ Bangalore: 26th May 2020

One of the most important things that we need in the Covid - 19 era is  sanitisers. In fact, the availability of good sanitising equipments, supplies and articles are need of the hour. When the government makes a blanket statement that you need to clean your hands frequently, wear the face masks, put gloves into your hands in order to keep away from Corona infection, how will you follow it? Where will you get these things for 1.3 billion population. Even during the good times we do not think about sanitising our hands or wearing face masks and putting on gloves, do you think people will use now when they are scarcely available as well as highly expensive? 
Even though, we have heard hundreds of times in our schools "cleanliness is next to godliness", our Indian psyche really but hardly cares for that. "Shuddam manushya lakshanam" is the other phrase comes to us from Sanskrit asking us both men and women to be persons of character. Moreover, this begins with keeping ourselves sane and clean, starting with our body. Everything begins with one's personal hygiene. 

During this Covid lockdown, when we distributed groceries and vegetables to the needy, we found that people had no sanitisers, moreover they didn't even had soaps. When the shops were closed where will people get the supplies? One of the early distribution times we bought soaps from different suppliers and started to add along with the Covid care kits. This brightened the face of people. I suppose soap is a better sanitiser than liquid form of cleaner. All the more, at least soap is cheaper than liquid hand sanitiser. 
Recently, we received a consignment of 449 boxes full of Santoor soaps. Each box contained 300 pieces and in total there were 1, 34, 700 soap pieces. They come from the Azim Premji Foundation as a donation. We are incredibly grateful to them. So far we have distributed around 1 lakh soap pieces to people in need.

Interestingly, one of the important works that we did along with distributing relief work to the daily wage earners and stranded migrant workers was to educate them to keep themselves sane, clean and healthy. We would tell people to maintain social distancing, clean their hands frequently by soap and wear masks. Educating the people helped us also in a way to distribute relief in better coordinated way. People listened to us. By the distribution of soaps people also got an idea that we just do not say with our words but also provide them good soaps. I am sure this little contribution from our part is certainly a great help in protecting people from this Corona infection. 

- Reported by Olvin Veigas, SJ

26 May 2020

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Covid Care Diary: Loyola School Children Receive the Last but Large Stock

MSJ Bangalore: 22nd May 2020
Yes, we have done it! We are closing our shop!! In fact, on 21st May 2020 we concluded our Covid care kit relief work. We finished with our supplies. Since 28th March 2020, we have been doing this work of reaching the most vulnerable, deserving and needy daily wage earners and migrant labourers and their families during this Covid lockdown.

Children and their parents lining up with social distancing
protocol in Loyola School Grounds
On Thursday, 21st May, was indeed a big day for all the children of Loyola School. They had come to the school with their parents not to attend classes but take home something very special which they and their families need at this hour: The Covid care kit relief supplies. In fact, they had come with their small bags. But for their surprise they had either 25 kilos of rice or ragi (Finger Millet),  4 kilos of potato, 3 kilos of dal/lentils, 4 pieces of bathing soap, 2 kilos each of brinjal, cabbage, carrot, pumpkin and radish, 1 kilo each sugar, salt, and half a kilo each of Masala powder and tindi powder,  2 litters of oil and other stuff to carry home. In total 1500 large food kits were distributed. It was such a joy to see on their faces while carrying those big bags with large amount of stuff to keep them free from worries and stress for some more days.
Jesuits and lay collaborators at MSJ Covid Care Kit relief work

- Reported by Olvin Veigas, SJ

22nd May 2020

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Covid Care Diary: Mask Makers as Covid Care Warriors

MSJ Bangalore: 20th May 2020

During this fight with the Covid pandemic, face masks have made a significant contribution in saving the lives of people. By wearing face masks one could avoid getting infected with Corona virus. Corona bug spreads through the breath of the person. Before the spread of Corona infection ordinary people wore masks in order to avoid pollution either on roads or dust in work places, especially in Bangalore. Usually masks were sold in the medical shops with particular kind of brands and unusually they were all surgical masks. Unfortunately, they were all imported from China. With the government imposing strict rules on the use of face masks since the lockdown, all the medical shops in our vicinity went empty. Even if there were instead of five rupees per mask, the price short up to Rupees 35 per one piece.

Since Covid care kit relief team needed very urgently these face masks we asked those people who knew tailoring skills. Unfortunately, we could not get them at the earliest. Because all the fabric shops were closed indefinitely. For our bad luck we did not know anyone who had cloth shops and who could give us behind the doors. Therefore we asked those people whom we knew in our vicinity to help us in our venture of getting the face masks quickly. For our surprise one of the covid care kit relief receivers near Arekere, a lady by name Vanitha (name is changed) said to us please give me the groceries and I will make you face masks. She didn't want any money. She was in such dire need of groceries for her family's survival. She made for us 120 face masks for which we duly paid Rs 1200/-  (Rs 12 per piece) and also gave her two kits of ration; an extra incentive. Labourer deserves her wages, indeed (Lk 10:7).

It was easier to procure groceries for our distribution than getting the face masks. Even though government shouted from its roof top that everyone should wear face masks, it did very little either to open the fabric/cloth shops to make available the raw material for tailors or distribute face masks from its stock. Sadly, the government didn't make use of its factories in getting the required face masks at people's disposal. Therefore we had to look for people who could help us procuring face masks. Incidentally many of our city well wishers gave us masks and organised in getting them to us. We should call them angels of masks! Finally we could distribute around 3000 masks in villages and other locations where our relief work was carried out.

In another instance, we asked our neighbour prepare for us another 200 masks. Woefully, we had to get it done by used fabric. In this time of dire need of masks for our Covid care kit volunteers we needed a lot of masks and we got them for free from good souls. We would like to place on record some of our benefactors. The Holy Spirit Nuns stitched for us 130 face masks, Alverna Bhavan Nuns 50, Nirmal Jyothi Salesian Nuns 30, another donor gave us 30 face masks and 100 hand gloves. We also purchased 2200 face masks at a cost of Rs 8/- per piece. Finally, the face mania saved us from Covid!

- Reported by Olvin Veigas, SJ

20 May 2020

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Covid Care Diary: Wheelbarrows of Covid Care

MSJ Bangalore: 16th May 2020

Before the Covid care kits reach the needy, a lot of ground work takes place in our Loyola Schools campus which is turned into Covid care kit relief hub. Here we procure and distribute groceries, vegetables and other essential household items. This hub is almost abuzz whole day due to a number of things. There are a lot of things going on here. Volunteers and the organisational team are busy over seeing every detail of its purchase, classification, packing, loading and unloading and finally distribution. When we get things in a quantity of tonnes a lot of hard labour is required. In this context we make use of some machinery. 
In a country  like India machinery is still a distant luxury we try to use things that are at our disposal. Four of our wheelbarrows that we have been using have seen generations of Jesuits passing out Jesuit Novitiate at Mount Saint Joseph Campus. Two are with two wheels and the other two with four wheels. In fact all the wheelbarrows are from our Mount Saint Joseph house and its farm. Most probably they must have been made by the Italian Jesuits who built the Mount Saint Joseph complex. Surprisingly all these wheel barrows are still in perfect condition and have been using extensively these days at the hub. 
These wheelbarrows help us in some sense to reduce the weight of carrying. They also minimise the burden on our volunteers who have been already doing so much of work for quite sometime now. Using wheelbarrows is also a collaborative work. To pull the bigger cart we need not one or two persons but a number of people. These bigger four wheeled wheelbarrows are used to shift larger quantity of things from one place to another.

There is also a lot of fun in doing so. Any sort of confusion and careless working results in double work. There is a saying in Konkani, "Alshyak dodi kama", for a lazy person double the work. If you do not put the load on the barrows well and make a steady load, while pulling the barrows, the whole heap collapses. Since we are working in the school premises there are a number steps. Those who pull the wheel barrows should manure all these steps well. Otherwise, things go disarray. It so happened recently. You may see a video below which I happened to capture at that moment incidentally.

- Reported by Olvin Veigas, SJ
16th May 2020

Friday, May 15, 2020

Covid Care Diary: Moving into the Containment Zones

MSJ Bangalore: 15th May 2020

If someone is lucky then some others should be unlucky. 
Even though the lockdown started on the 24th of March 2020 everyone thought that 21 days of quarantine lockdown will heal all of us. In fact, it would heal the whole of India from Covid pandemic. Unfortunately things have been otherwise. As the Covid lockdown continued the cases reporting Covid infection increased day by day. After the second lockdown imposition things have not been very different. We have have been noticing an increase in number of people being affected by the Corona infection. Even though now this lockdown is lifted phase by phase contaminated cases haven't been contained. Meanwhile, all of us are learning to live with the fears of contamination of Corona infection.

Nevertheless, our initial Covid care kits reached those migrant workers and daily wage earners in our vicinity. Surprisingly, in the last few weeks our outreach has reached a radius of 20-30 kilo meters from our Mount Saint Joseph campus. Indeed, it is great feat! Even we ourselves cannot believe that such a massive work could be done if people of good will could come forward and sacrifice their comforts and even their lives. Along with doctors, nurses, hospital administration, police, and others who are called as frontline warriors by the government, we too should be called as  frontline warriors. We too risk our lives and wellbeing. All the more, we have stopped people getting into the streets in order to get food and other things  for their survival. Instead of they coming to us we have gone to them. Moreover, we have helped the administration of the country to help people to maintain a healthy life, which we did, not only by giving groceries to them but also educating them on how to keep themselves sane and healthy.

Fascinatingly during this difficult but challenging time we have been able to reach out those who have to maintain strict rules of not venturing out of their houses or apartments. This is because their localities are categorised under containment zones or areas. What are those containment zones? The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India defines the containment zone as a specific geographical area where positive cases of coronavirus are found. Strict movement restrictions are put in place in such areas to prevent further spread of the virus. The zones are conceived to map the local transmission of the disease and prevent the contagion from spreading. This means that aforementioned locality is put under strict lockdown for 21 to 28 days. These localities are different from hotspots where six or more people have tested positive for coronavirus are identified in that area.
Once the government announces the particular locality is under quarantine quickly that location gets sealed. People are unable to move out from that locality. Grocery or vegetable shops are closed for almost 21 to 28 days. It’s a maroon state of life. So far we have provided to such areas  our Covid care kits in order to help people in distress and dire need. The areas that we have covered so far are Bapuji Nagar, Malleshwaram, Padarayanapura, Begur, Shivajinagar, Hongasandra, and Rajajinagar in Banglaore.

When we provide relief kits in these containment areas we keep in mind a number of things. Our relief care kits should be larger in size because people cannot come out of their area for a longer period, i.e., 21 to 28 days. This means accessibility to outsiders is very minimum. Outsiders cannot enter the zone, even we are not allowed. Therefore they are provided with a larger quantity of vegetables and grocery items.

Unfortunately, even though we do whatever is possible from our side to help these people in containment zones, we have a great satisfaction that people will benefit from our service of widow's mite. We may not get any calls or any other communication from them but they must be thinking that this help must be coming from some quarters, perhaps from private agencies. We are glad that we could be of some help to them in this time of agony of waiting to get the skies to get cleared. 

- Reported by Olvin Veigas, SJ

15 May 2020

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Covid Care Diary: No Coincidence but Providence

MSJ, Bangalore: 13th May 2020

Each one is blessed with unique gifts. We cannot make judgements on why some are calm others agitating; my neighbour is peace loving while my sister's neighbour always picks up quarrel. During this Covid lockdown many have gone through depression, while others have  become very creative. Some have thrown themselves out in the field trying to help the stranded migrant labourers and daily wage earners. Whereas others have during this time been simply sitting inside and waiting for this lockdown to end. There are many who have little or nothing at all have been hoping and praying. Surprisingly, their prayers and waiting has been answered providentially.

Not Coincidence but Providence
Interestingly, something very fascinating happened when we visited Pillaganahalli. This tiny village is situated on the Bannerghatta area. As usual we had gone there with our Covid Care kits to distribute to those who are in need. We had received information that there are many families who are in dire need of ration. We don't give away our kits simply but we make a detailed study of the place and families. We ask  a number of questions.

We met a woman who is a widow with two children. After initial questions we asked her, "how are you managing these days". She answered in Hindi, "I ask Alla, and he provides. I pray for others and also for myself." "Well that is a nice way of saying, madam," Fr Teyol said. But he further inquired but, "how you have been managing these days?" "Until a week ago," she said, " I had ration for my family. Then while it was getting over somebody came up here and gave us two kilos of rice and dal. Two days ago it got over. For our surprise BBMP people came here and gave us two cooked meals. Then everything is over. And now you are here!" She gave a sigh of relief with a smile on her face. 

The woman with her burka on very calm and serene, when she narrated to us. It was simply an eye opener for us to see even in this distress people have tremendous trust in God and they are sure help is coming. They may not know who exactly is bringing, what they are bringing or when it would come. But help comes! God does not let His faithful down. This gentle woman's prayers for others and for herself brought cheers in this time of distress from unknown quarters. God loves not only a cheerful giver but also a hopeful receiver!

- Reported by Olvin Veigas, SJ

13th May 2020

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Covid Care Diary: Reaching out to the LGBTQ + Community

MSJ, Bangalore: 12th May 2020

Things have been unusual for all of us, especially during this Covid lockdown. However there are many who have been going through a life of hell due to various reasons. It may be because they are Auto Rickshaw drivers, fruits and vegetable push cart vendors, Ola or Ubar cab drivers, domestic helpers, drivers of small or big transport services, helpers, conductors, cleaners, helpers in various business establishments including dentistry, etc. The list goes on. There is also a particular segment of society which is tolerated not much by society even though they come from families like you and me. They are seen with scorn or a menace in society. It might be because of their sexual orientation. They are the least in our society just like widows or orphans. They too are the children of God. In fact, they are also our brothers and sisters.

The people whom I am referring are from LGBTQ+ community. A few years ago, we did not see them in public in the city of Bangalore. However, in recent years their voices are being heard. They have become visible in our market areas, stores, malls, streets, temples, and around us. We see many them from this community particularly at the traffic light junctions of Namma Bengaluru looking for some monetary help, when you are waiting frantically to change into green signal. Certainly, now a days these people are out of our sight. They are also under lockdown.

Quite recently, we had a group of people from the LGBTQ+ community at the entrance gate of our Covid care kit relief procuring and distribution hub at Loyola College Campus, Bengaluru. They had come to our centre looking for some Covid relief from a place called Dasarahalli which is almost 30 kilometers from our campus. The distance itself speaks about their dire need. Somehow they came to know our relief work though some contacts. After a bit of hesitation they entered our gate and felt comfortable to talk to us. Their condition has not been very good in this time of total shutdown. We provided them 25 kits containing a good amount of grocery items and other vegetables. They were fascinated to see such an amount of fresh vegetables. They are very grateful for how we treated them. We also got in touch with people at JD Mara area where there is a similar kind of people who also received our help.

One of our Jesuits Fr James Martin from the US, wrote a bold but challenging book "Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity" in 2017. Speaking about this book, Robert McElroy, Bishop of San Diego notes "Martin provides us the language, perspective, and sense of urgency to undertake the arduous but monumentally Christlike task of replacing a culture of alienation with a culture of merciful inclusion.”  I believe that unless and until we take up this task of welcoming LGBTQ+ community into our mainstream society, we would not be sitting together with our Divine Master when our mortal bodies vanishes away from the face this earth.

- Reported by Olvin Veigas, SJ

12th May 2020

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Covid Care Diary: What Makes Kits and What Breaks Ego

MSJ, Bangalore: 9th May 2020
Even though, Covid Care Diary was not updated for some time, our Covid care kit relief hub continued to function without any interruption. Meanwhile, we have been working tirelessly with our volunteers, relief distribution and procuring persons with same enthusiasm and vigour. There is continuous flow of grocery items and fresh vegetables into our centre. Perhaps ours is the only such a hub of free distribution of essential commodities in our vicinity to those people who are still stranded or unable to make a daily living due to Covid lockdown.

The Covid lockdown in our country is slowly being lifted. We cannot go on like this endlessly. We have to learn to live with Corona pandemic. The rat race has begun.

But the poor daily wage earners are still inside their jopady patties and homes. A lot of the migrant workers have moved or shifted since many of the State governments in our country have taken initiatives to transport their people back home. Their stories are pathetic. Even a person who does not feel any sympathy for any human tragedy looking at what happened in Visakhapatnam - gas leak and in Aurangabad - the death of migrant workers who slept on the railway tracks after their tiering journey to their homeland a couple of days ago should melt one's heart. This does not mean that every stranded migrant labourer and his family has left the place. How will the family move if someone is sick in the family, wife is pregnant, or infant is restless or father or mother is stuck to his or her bed with chronic illness?

Our Covid care kit procuring and distribution centre is busy trying its best to reach the unreached. There is a lot of life in our centre. As one of the main Covid care kit procuring and distribution centre in the city is shut down and many of their volunteers have joined the rat race, we would be continuing our services as long as resources  to procure care kits are available. We are already facing the shortage of funds. This means we are also counting our days to shut down. We cannot run a social service and relief centre without adequate funding or financial stability. Water will run in the tap as lang as tank is full. 
We are having varied experiences during this time too. We received a number of calls. We also see a number of people visiting our place seeking help. We have placed before us a certain system which should guide our whole distribution process without any black dots. Thus the real needy receives what  he or she deserves.

As the popularity of our work is making rounds, we get requests from apartment people who are asking us to give ration to their maids and security men. When we did some interrogation about those people we came to know these following naked facts. People living in that building are well placed with white coloured jobs. There are 130 families living in that building. Each apartment has a maid to work for them  and extra security to protect them. With the lock down, the apartment families stopped getting the help from the maids. Moreover they stopped paying salaries to them. Wages are given only if they come for work.

We replied the person who sought our assistance with due respect that we are ready to send you 130 kits of relief items provided you pay to each kit Rs 1,000/- which actually costs Rs 1,400/- for us. Once the money is paid we are ready to deliver at your door step. Unfortunately, the caller could not go forward with the deal. As it pricked person's conscious badly. Sadly, there are many well to do and people who can afford are trying their best to get Covid care kits gratuitously but unrighteously. Some how or the other ego is so much that they cannot empty their pockets when others' pockets already dried up. We hope something good happens to these people to open their eyes to see the stark reality of Corona pandemic. In fact, Corona virus does not see who has thick pocket or empty pocket, it empties completely the person when it attacks!

- Reported by Olvin Veigas, SJ
9th May 2020 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Covid Care Diary: New Arrivals - Unloading and Packing

MSJ, Bangalore: 29th April 2020

Today was a day filled with a number of activities. We received a number of loads of essential commodities like vegetables, oil, dal, etc. Grocery procuring and distribution hub saw many things happening today.

In the morning hours Jesuit Novices packed more than 500 kits filling them with rice, toor dal, oil,  soaps, masala powder packet, sugar, salt, and different kinds of vegetables namely, tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions, etc.

Making Covid care kits take a lot of time. But our Novices are very quick in their movements. They passed packets from one hand to another, shifted things from one class room to the main packing courtyard and did the miracle of packing 500 kits. It's almost like Jesus doing that miracle of feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. One care kit must supply food for at least 10 days to a family of four people. If a person has three meals per day then if we calculate it for four people means everyday 12 meals are cooked in a house. 12 meals into 10 days is 120 meals, that means 500 care kits should enable to have at least 60,000 meals. I suppose it's a good miracle indeed!
Our neighbours in the Mount St Joseph campus are Trinitarian Fathers. Their brothers too came in the afternoon and prepared another 500 care kits. So, in total we had 1,000 care kits produced within a day meant for 1,000 families. This in turn should produce 1,20,000 meals, in other words, 1,000 families with average 4 members in a family should be able to have meals for 10 days without any problem. 

We unloaded a few tonnes of vegetables mainly sweet pumpkins - two and a half tonnes, carrots - and capsicum - one and half tonnes each, onions and reddish - one tonne each. The person who provided us these vegetables told us that he provides a very fresh vegetables and comes directly from the farms around the Electronic City in Bangalore. Usually, he sends around 25 tonnes of vegetables on a daily basis to the markets during the usual days.

But due to Covid lockdown things are really bad with his business. As supply chain is broken people like us keep his business afloat. However, farmers are incurring terrible losses. I found Mani the dealer is very excited to help us. Through our conversation I found out that he is very passionate of marketing the farmers produce. According to him, he has already donated  25 lakhs worth of farm produce for various organisations who are doing relief work. We have procured these produce thanks to Fr Teyol's contact, who has sponsored these produce to our distribution. 
Another consignment that we got is 200 bags of Toor dal weighing each bag 50 kilos each. A total of one tonne. This is sponsored by the Diya Ghar Organization with whom we have been collaborating very closely since the beginning of our Covid care kit relief work in our surrounding areas. Our usual volunteers and workers in our institutions unloaded all these tonnes of loads without any complaints. Even though they are not used to this kind of work due to the urgency of the current situation, they are ready to do any kind of work. Certainly, we are not only adding value to our Covid care kits but also variety and healthy nutritions to people's diet.

 Reported by Olvin Veigas, SJ

29th April 2020

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Covid Care Diary: Reaching out to the Garment Factory Workers

MSJ, Bangalore: 28th April 2020

Another group of people who have been struggling during this time of Covid lockdown are garment factory workers. Strangely, majority of them happen to be women, both young and old, who run their families. Around our Mount Saint Joseph campus there are a number of garment factories. Usually, when they are working you'll find a number of buses coming from the rural Bangalore bringing the work force in private buses. We would see lines and lines of busses parked around. Some of the garment factories next to our campus produce world class export quality readymade clothings and shirtings. The brands are internationally well known and locally not sold. 
During our Covid care kit relief work we met a number of these workers who work in the garment factories. An area around the Bannerghatta Road is known as weaver's colony. A sizeable number of students who attend our Loyola Primary, Higher Primary, High school, Composite College and Degree College come from weaver's colony. 

The people who work in garment factories are marginalised people. They have no voice of their own. Recently, when we distributed our Covid care kits to these people many things came to light. Sadly, since the lockdown began, the garment factories are closed. People who have believed in their livelihood by working in these factories are completely shattered. There is no work, hence, no pay.

For our dismay, we found that owners of these garment factories are not paying them when they are not at work. Even though, government is insisting on paying the wages in the time of Covid lockdown, strangely it's not happening. Certainly, the owners must be having valid reasons. At least government should think of paying PF funds (Provident Fund) to the workers. It seems to us that garment factory workers needed only in good times. In other words, they are the people who can be made use of when profit is sure.

There are a number of factors that are troubling when you analyse the life of these garment factory workers. In spite of living within the city limits of Bangalore, some how or the other education has made very little impact on these people. What they have got is some kind of literacy, but badly received literacy.  Since women work in these factories, they are the bread winners of their families. A lot of families are run by a single parent. They live in rented places. How will they pay the rents now? Covid lockdown has really brought them on their knees.

Both the central and state governments are promising a lot to the daily wage earners during this lockdown. Unfortunately, so far nothing has reached the pockets of these struggling families. Looks like either the government does not know the ground reality of our people or does not like to know the reality itself.

Reported by Olvin Veigas, SJ

28th April 2020

Monday, April 27, 2020

Covid Care Diary: Relief Work among the Orphanages

MSJ, Bangalore: 27th April 2020

In this time of national Corona lockdown, families with small numbers could manage somehow or the other. But if a house has more than 10 members, then it is an herculean task to get things for everyone.  The hands will not reach the mouth in such a time comfortably.  Procuring groceries and other essential commodities for daily needs when every seller has closed the doors, means wait for good samaritans to arrive.
This is what happening during the lockdown here in Bangalore and especially in our vicinity. So far, we have visited five orphanages and centres of destitute. We have given the ration, the Covid care kits including fresh vegetables that was necessary for them during this crucial time. Among these five orphanages, four belong to Christian organisations and the other belong to another institution.  Among them the membership in each centres is like this, 28, 44, 150, 24 and 17.  For valid reasons, we do not like to name them here. 
Usually, the orphanages and centres of destitute women are depending on the contribution and the charity of people. Unfortunately, government does not fund them including giving them electricity and water at a subsided rate. When life is in full swing there is no dearth for funds and volunteers to ease the financial and practical problems.

Basically, people are good by nature to do such generous contributions.  But, what will you do when the volunteers are not allowed to visit these centres or give practical help to them? Where will they go to buy groceries for a center which has more than 150 mouths to feed in the morning, noon and the night? How will they get fresh vegetables and other commodities when everything is locked up and vehicles are not allowed on the roads?

In our effort to reach out to the people who are in dire need, we came to know these centres with a sizeable number. We could provide them fresh vegetables too, which are also important for these already battered bodies. These centres of new life to those destitute children and battered women depend on the good will of people. Many of the inmates are brought to the centre by the police themselves. These rescue centres serve as the beacon of hope and generosity in a world of greed and consumerism. 

As the economy is struggling and lockdown continues intermittently, the pockets of people are getting drained. That means orphanages and shelters of destitute women will find difficult to keep them afloat for a longer period. If the charity does not come in time means charitable work is not affordable any longer.

During our interaction with the heads and staff of these centres of good will, we noticed tremendous satisfaction. We ourselves did not know so many such centres in our vicinity with a large number of inmates. This was, indeed, a learning experience for us. If you are doing something worthy to the praise of God, then God will not allow such wonderful work go without His grace and pasture. 

Reported by Olvin Veigas, SJ

27th April 2020 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Covid Care Diary: Working in the Hub, No Resting even on Sunday

MSJ, Bangalore: 26th April 2020

Covid care kit relief work is possible only if there is regular supply from the stake holders. Here it would be vegetables from the farmers, other non-perishable items from shops and warehouses. 

Today is Sunday. However, our grocery procuring and distribution hub was as busy as a bee house! Early in the morning Jesuit Novices were in the hub trying to sort out vegetables and packing them up. We have very good and talented 20 Jesuit Novices for the Karnataka Province. They are the future Society of Jesus. When we have one or two tonnes of tomatoes invariably we have to sort them out especially picking up the rotten tomatoes. If you leave the rotten tomatoes in a big heap, they tend to infect the other good ones and get spoilt very quickly.

We also received a good amount of ration and other grocery items from the main hub at St Joseph's College, Museum Road, Bangalore. In order to unload the big bags weighing 25 kilos we need men who are capable of carrying them for at least a length of 250 feet. The grocery items are kept in the class rooms where as the vegetables in the courtyard of the school. By providence we have enough space to store, pack up and sort out the groceries and other items.

As we received a truck load of grocery and other items, our own farm workers and other people who run our place came to help us. Otherwise, it would be an impossible task. Our workers are very happy people. They did the job within a short span of time. They received Sprite and fresh egg puffs as part of the reinforcement. 

Along with grocery items and vegetables, we will be adding soaps into the Covid Care Kits. Due to the strict lockdown, shops are hardly open. Sadly, the stranded migrant workers are afraid to venture out into the market place too. We received a good quantity of boxes filed with soaps. Sorting out the those soap sheets from lengthy plastic ribbons takes quite a lot of your time. 

Jesuit Fr Teyol Machado has made Covid Care kit hub as his office, in fact it's an open office. He has his computer on the open table. He does most of his contacting job through mobile or WhatsApp. Whenever we receive a new consignment, he enters the data into his computer. He overseas the whole process. Being a Chief Coordinator of this whole Covid care kit relief work, his eyes are over everything, including encouraging the volunteers to keep the tempo of the work. He is rigorous in planning and executing, quick in decision making and implementing.  

Interestingly, in between this work he attends online classes at the Azim Premji University, Bangalore.  He is pursuing a Master's degree in Development. Unfortunately, due to the Covid lockdown he has do his classes online which he does very diligently.  It seems to me that these classes are a good distraction to him, because what he has been studying at the University as theory, Covid care kit relief work at Mount Saint Joseph has offered him a real practical laboratory. 

- Reported by Olvin Veigas, SJ

26th April 2020