How our Vincentian Family are coping with Covid in India
Our Twinning Officer Kate Kelley has been in touch with our fellow Conferences in India and had updates on how they are coping in these times of Coronavirus.
Below are the texts of some of these letters. Normally we would edit for a website post and just use a selection of information, however, there is something valid in sharing the full text of these wonderful letters. We wanted to ensure you as members were able to have a full flavour of what life is like right now in India for our brothers and sisters and also read the good wishes and prayers they send for us. The whole world is suffering with Coronavirus but in a nation where poverty is so widespread and modern conveniences limited then the nature of keeping everyone fed and cared for is that bit more complicated.
Beloved Sr. Jacqueline M Laird
In the name of merciful Jesus Christ we wish you to get relieve, to recover and heartfelt condolence those who are being affected by corona. We are from Our Lady of Rosary conference N.Gangapet, Vettavalam area council, Vellore central council, Tamil Nadu regional council ie. South India. On 19th March onwards we are in lockdown, no school, no transport, no marketing, totally arrested. Only the police make very frequent patrolling on streets, bazaars and in all important places where the people gather. No church ceremonies even Sundays. Still lockdown continues.
Yesterday evening news, out of 34 districts in Tamil Nadu, three noted districts including our district Tiruvannamalai, are under very serious check up because of increasing more infections daily. We are going to be under severe lockdown and medical supervision. Our spiritual advisor Rev.Fr. Vincent, conducts special prayer with prayer group throughout the day. Likewise it continues. Rosary, today’s message from the Bible, its message, general prayer and song on glory to Mother Mary, this month May is for her are included.
We lost our loving bishop Soundararaj periyanayagam Salesian Don Bosco on 20th March and his lost rites done on 24th March in Diocese Mother Mary Church and very Rev.Fr.I John Robert, Vicariate general performs diocese in charge.
Today 14th May the Pope instructed to follow sincere prayer, fasting and helping the needy people and to fight against corona. For the last 5months the world leaders have been struggling more to save the people from the infection of corona.
The world countries believe on our almighty Jesus Christ to have mercy on us to get free from corona. We continue our prayers for his mercifulness. Family prayer in the homes are being encouraged nowadays. This will give us great hope.
Thanking you, Kumar, Secretary, Our Lady of Rosary conference, N.Ganagapet
Thanks for concern and prayers you offered. We understand in spite of more bitter difficulties you are facing, your enquires shows how much you all really love India. In reply to your queries, I am trying to brief you about the present scenario in India developed from Corona-Covid 19 epidemic.
India is going through 21 days country wide shutdown. Really tough time. Both Union (Central) and state governments are trying their best to contain the disease. We are not sure how much it already spread as initially it was not seriously managed by all provinces, except Kerala Government. The return of Indian diaspora from West Asia and students and traders from China caused sudden rise in the spread of epidemic. Scarcity of protective devices, medical masks, sanitizers and gloves risks the lives of health workers in rural remote regions. If 6 % of Indian population is affected, as projected, it will be 80 million. If 5% of 80 million require ventilator for a span of 21 days, it will be 4 million. One ventilator costs 4000000 Indian rupees, the base model costs Rs.1500000/-(1.5 Million). It’s beyond the reach of an Indian rural hospital. Only urban medical facilities have ventilators and hi-tech life-saving equipment. So, the only effective option is to prevent the spread. Hope this shutdown works positively by the Grace of God and co-operation of people. But illiteracy, ignorance and superstitions may hinder its results.
India is staring at a severe economic crisis. On urban side, stock markets plunged. Demand and supply chain of milk, veg and fruits strained. Indian rural population, which is otherwise poor, depends mainly on agriculture and farming. Wheat, mustard, paddy, maize and soya bean are being harvested mainly in this season. Poultry rearing farms are facing dearth of feed. Now everything stands still. Agri markets closed. Delay causes huge loss and damage. Fishing harbors closed. No sufficient storage facilities. Most companies declared salary cuts. All skilled and unskilled workers forced to leave factories due to unexpected lockdown. Displaced migrant workers, families stranded, but forced to stay where ever they are, due to unexpected total shutdown, at remote locations en-route to their home which is far away , 100 – 800 miles, now battle hunger as no one to feed them.
As per statistics, last year, working days available for average rural family was only 47 days. It means, by calculating at the rate of 300 Indian rupees per day, the family had only Rs.14000/- annual income , less than Indian Rs. 40/- per day for a family of four individuals. This is poverty. But even with that they managed to survive; the present episode, an economic recession in pipeline, will derail that income too. Approximately, 54200000 families come under this category. So, poverty will grip more Indian families uncharitably.
Our Vincentians are trying their best to support the deserving poor families in their localities, mainly adopted families, by supplying food kits of rice/wheat, grains, veg, bath soap, and hand sanitizer. One such kit will cost Rs.600/- . Some of our conferences/ central councils are producing Hand sanitizer and masks for free supply to poor families. Some conducts awareness programs on hand hygiene. In some areas Community kitchens were opened with the support of Government. As mobility is restricted, we need to wait for more reach out activities. We may have to evolve more poor oriented self income projects to generate sufficiency to overcome the contingency. As middle income families also may suffer, who are our main local benefactors, our local income may not meet our fund requirements.
We had joined the prayer of Pope Francis and our International President. Rosaries and novenas are being offered. We do pray for all Vincentians all over the world. We are reading saddening reports from Spain, UK, United States, Italy, and France and, it’s painful.
Joining in prayer, let St Vincent and Blessed Frederic pray for us.
Litto Palathingal, Project Officer for Kerala, National Council of India.
Dear Sr. Kate Kelley,
Greetings in the name of Bl. Frederic Ozanam from Visakhapatnam Central Council, INDIA. I hope all our brothers and sisters are doing well.
Here everything is going on well except COVID-19. It is shaking the whole world just like anything. Our country is announced LOCKDOWN from 22nd March to 14th April. All our liturgical services are stopped as per the Indian Government instructions. We are watching the sermons, Masses, Holy Hour, Adoration through television only. It is the first time in the history I think. We cannot celebrate the Easter also. Since we are in quarantine, we have to spend most of the time by meditating the word of God, reciting Rosary and Way of the Cross. No one is coming out of their houses. What about in your country, I hope doing well.
All the weekly meetings, Managing committee meetings and some spiritual programmes which were planned are also cancelled due COVID-19. Still we are distributing provisions, vegetables, sanitizers and nose masks to our adopted families and to others also. By the grace of Almighty no Vincentian is affected by COVID-19.
I remain, Fraternally Yours, R. Rama Rao, President
298 Indian conferences are twinned with 229 Scottish Conferences(some Scottish Conferences have more than one twin), paying £30 per quarter each to be sent to SSVP India. The total for 2015/2016 paid via this scheme was £25740.00, making a huge difference to the people who are supported by the Indian Conferences.
Conferences also have donated more for special projects affiliated with the SSVP in India. Conferences donated a total of £17644.58 for 2015/2016 which paid for projects ranging from a cow bank amd fishing net distribution to the provision of clean drinking water.