Neel Mani Rangesh, Secretary, JAAI

The COVID-19 pandemic marks an unprecedented time in modern history that will require the best of humanity to overcome. The world is grappling with possibly the worst public health crisis seen in more than a century. The new coronavirus has taken thousands of lives and spread to nearly every country in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has gripped nations, compelling governments to impose countrywide lockdowns to contain the spread of the deadly virus. This crisis threatens everyone’s way of life, but it is especially difficult for people who are already vulnerable, including those with pre-existing medical conditions, older adults, individuals experiencing homelessness, refugees and migrants, wage workers, and those with inflexible jobs. Jesuit Alumni Associations of India (JAAI) believes that Jesuit Alumni/ae deeply rooted in local communities are best positioned to lead and give the communities on the front lines of the crisis the resources they need to act quickly and protect the most vulnerable such as helping in delivering essential items to struggling families and individuals quarantined, arrange doctor, health care persons and other front line responders to communities in need, support hygiene awareness efforts and much, much more.

Many Jesuits and Jesuit Alumni Associations are working in coordination with local administration and providing critical medical support and meeting critical needs of communities around the country. Jesuit Alumni/ae are making efforts and living by the JAAI motto “to give and not to count the cost”. Although it will be very difficult to compile all the activities, but I have tried to include activities which have come to our knowledge through social media or other sources. I am very much sure that many services to humanity done by Jesuits and Jesuit Alumni/ae may have been so pure service and goodwill that they could not reach us and thus may not be included here. I sincerely apologize for non-inclusion of any such activities inadvertently. In the next issue of the report, we will surely try to include all such activities. The major activities in response to COVID-19 pandemic and critical situation of lockdown by the Jesuits and Jesuits Alumni Associations are as follows:

  1. Association of Past Xavierites (APX), Ahmedabad

The COVID-19 pandemic marks an unprecedented time in modern history that will require the best of humanity to overcome. The world is grappling with possibly the worst public health crisis seen in more than a century. The new They have formed a small group (all are either APX members or connected to St Xavier’s High School Loyola Ahmedabad) and are preparing food packets and distributing the same, for those daily wagers and needy who have no jobs and work currently. Ten Thousand food packets per day are being distributed under directions of Mr Vijay Nehra (IAS), Municipal commissioner of Ahmedabad. A task force has been formed by the Municipal Commissioner and APX, Ahmedabad is part of one such group and given this responsibility as well as tapping resources for bed sheets, pillows, mattresses, pillow covers, beds, sets of plate, spoon, bows and glass etc. 1000 beds, 1000 Mattresses and 1000 sets each of plate, spoon, bowl & glass, 1000 pillows, 1000 bed sheets, 1000 pillow covers, 1150 tooth brushes, 1150 tooth pastes, 1000 bathing soaps, 1040 hand wash, 1000 packets of paper napkins were supplied at Tapi facility, Nikol till 9 April 2020. With the help of Police, they have distributed milk, bread and Parle-G biscuits to the needy people of Khatraj & surrounding villages and outskirts of the city of Ahmedabad. They have already raised around Rs 1.55 Crores and as need arises; they are ready to raise more.

2. Loyola Alumni Association (LAA), Jamshedpur

Loyola Alumni Association (LAA), Jamshedpur is having a structured plan of action to support to needy people for at least 6 weeks rather than giving them just one meal. This a joint effort of Loyola & XLRI. The main challenge was to identify the ones severely affected & the ones who do not have necessary documentation like BPL card & Ration Card. With the help of the Adarsh Seva Sansthan, an NGO which has been working in the 26 bustees of Sonari and Kadma for the last 30 years, they have found that there are close to 1100 families out of the total of 3554 families in these 26 Bustees who are in this category. They started with a lot of 489 packets. Each packet consists of 4 kg of Rice, 1kg of Dal, 1/2 ltrs. of oil, Biscuits, salt etc. which will be good enough for a week for a family of 4/5 for 2 meals a day. The cost for 500 such packets is roughly Rupees One lakh Fifty thousand (approximately Rs.300 per packet). Every week, they are trying and delivering 500 such packets through Adarsh Seva Sansthan and their team of Volunteers. XLRI team works on procurement and packing of the material while LAA team are responsible for transporting the packets from XLRI to Adarsh Seva Sansthan in Sonari.

3. Old Boys’ Association, Loyola School (LOBA), Trivandrum

Kerala State government is planning to setup Corona Care Centers (CCC) across the state in anticipation of community spread (Stage 3) of the novel corona virus pandemic. LOBA, among others, is tasked with setting up a CCC when such a situation is called upon. Each Corona Care Center is a 24-hour facility that has to be manned by 50 people across 10 roles. The center is headed by a person appointed by the State Government just like how flood relief centers are set up at institutions and managed by the State Government. Old Boys’ Association, Loyola School, Trivandrum (LOBA), has been tasked with planning, setting up and running a Corona Care Center (CCC) at Loyola School, Sreekaryam, Trivandrum.

4. St. Xavier’s College and St. Xavier’s College Calcutta Alumni Association (SXCAA), Kolkata

Jesuit Priests of St. Xavier’s, Kolkata and the Xaverians donated Rs. 40 Lakhs to the West Bengal CM’s Relief Fund to fight against COVID-19.

On the holy day of Good Friday, SXCAA under the leadership of its President and Principal of the College Rev. Fr. Dominic Savio SJ and other Jesuits of the college distributed food packets to the needy local people with the assistance from Kolkata Police.

5. Doranda Old Xavierans (DOX), Ranchi

DOX has partnered with their alma-mater in supporting three shelter homes run by St. Xavier’s, Doranda and District Administration and sponsoring food for 50 families of the outreach students of the school for a month. They have raised Rupees 2,28,000 for the Project in less than 24 hrs. They have supplied groceries including rice, dal, soya chunks, onion, potato, mustard oil, soap, sanitary pads etc. for a month for 49 families of school’s outreach students and 38 families of non-teaching staffs of the school. They have also supplied rice, dal & potatoes to 20 families at C.F. Andrews Memorial English School, Tharpakhna, Ranchi with the help of local authorities. They are continuously suppling food provisions, bedsheets, pillow covers, etc. for the shelter homes. Stress Bursting messages are also being circulated in alumni group to get one motivated during the critical situation of lockdown.

6. Bokaro Old Xaverian Association (BOXA), Bokaro

Food Bags are being distributed to families of mishra colony, sector-1 and villages in Bokaro such as Balidih village under the supervision of local administration led by CO & BDO of the area. The St. Xavier’s School, Bokaro is the Nodal Centre for planning, packing and distribution of food bags. They are also proving masks, gloves and caps.

7. Andhra Loyola College Alumni Association (ALCAA), Vijawada, Andhra Pradesh

They have collected donations for free distribution of food and water for poor and needy people and migrants. They are also distributing thousands of eggs per day to police colonies in Vijaywad and Guntur. The college campus has been given to poor farmers for selling vegetables and auditorium is being used by the Police to lodge quarantine victims.

8. St. Michael’s Alumni Association, Patna

St. Michael’s Alumni Association, Patna is distributing food & essential items such as rice, jaggery, chewra, biscuits etc. on daily basis starting from 5 April 2020 to the poor people living behind St. Michael’s High School, Patna, Makhdumpur locality, Bind toli and other localities of Digha area of Patna with direct involvement of Digha Police personnel.

9. Loyola Ex-Students Association (LESA), Margaon

LESA committee member Ryan Vaz has invented a hard face mask and given them free of cost to help frontline brave medical brethren at ESI Hospital. They have also distributed perishable and non-perishable items to underprivileged senior citizens and others who have no means to get the essentials or too poor to purchase. They are also providing food for homeless daily. 1996 batch alone contributed Rs. 62,000/- towards provision of food for homeless and 150 biryani packets were distributed to people stranded at Navelim, Goa on 7 April 2020.

10. Darjeeling Jesuits of North Bengal

St. Joseph’s School & College, North Point, Darjeeling and Xavier Educational Society of North Bengal sent and distributed the load of essential materials such as food provisions, personal hygiene materials etc. to needy people of different areas such as Soam Tea Garden Villages, Lepcha Busty, Singla etc.

11. St. John’s Jesuit Community, Tamar, Ranchi

Ranchi Jesuit Society under the umbrella of Ranchi Archdiocese are running two shelter homes – one at St. John’s School, Dorea, Tamar and another at Ursuline Convent Girls High School, Muri. St. John’s School, Dorea, Tamar shelter home is taking care of 200 males & 200 females migrants mostly coming from Uttar Pradesh & Bihar and few locals as well. All the essential things, food provisions etc. are being providing to them with the support from Jesuit Institutions such as XISS, St. Xavier’s, Doranda and sisters from Samlong, Ranchi.

12. St. Aloysius Primary and High School, Mangaluru

St. Aloysius Primary and High School, Mangaluru distributed food grains and essential items to around 200 destitute families on 7 April 2020 to help them to cope up with the lockdown period. Many families of Kannada medium students studying in St. Aloysius High Primary and High School and even families of other more impoverished students benefitted from this move.

13. St. Xavier’s School, Jaipur

St. Xavier’s School and St. Xavier’s College, Nevta, Jaipur distributed food kits worth Rs. 2 Lakhs to 200 deserving poor migrant families in 5 villages of Nevta Panchayat, Jaipur on 4 April 2020.

14. Arul Anandar College, Karumathur, Madurai

Arul Anandar College, Karumathur, Madurai distributed food packets to impoverished people during the lockdown period.