Patna Jesuits’ Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
The Covid-19 Scenario in Patna
The state of Bihar after the nationwide lockdown declaration had more than 50,000 migrant labourers coming back to its land. Nobody wanted to go near the migrant labourers and they were facing social boycott because of the stigmatization of COVID-19 pandemic.
Patna Jesuit Society has reached out to poorest in poor families, by collaborating with IRCTC Indian railways, Government agencies, educational institutions, religious congregations, overseas friends and volunteers and is carrying out the COVID-19 relief work substantially both in urban and rural areas in various districts of Bihar.
The province has been providing cooked food, ration kits, distribution of masks, creating awareness on Govt. welfare schemes, sanitation, hygiene, social distancing, isolation etc., is done through passing on information, phone calls, and occasional visits of field staff, teachers and volunteers. Patna province scholars have written articles in “Indian Currents” about the COVID-19 situation and the measures to be taken in the plight of migrant labourers and suggesting measures for the post lockdown period.
Key Activity &Updates
- Cooked Food were distributed to 13275 poor migrant labourers by Manthan & BDVS, Patna and will continue to distribute the same to an average of 1000 people daily with the help of IRCTC Indian Railways.
- Ration Kits containing mostly rice, dal, atta, soap and some cases edible oil, sattu, beaten rice, and biscuits distributed to 5762 poor families.
- St. Michael’s School, Patna is earmarked as quarantine centre in Patna.
- Awareness is being created about Govt. welfare schemes, sanitation, hygiene, social distancing, isolation etc. is done through passing on information, phone calls, and occasional visits of field staff, teachers and volunteer.
- Over 4000 masks were distributed out of which 69% were rural tailoring. Some masks were stitched by SRA sisters of Jeevan Sanhgham, Bodhgaya institution and some were given by Holy cross sisters. More masks are being stitched by our unit partners.
- More than 5700 soaps were distributed along with the ration kits.
HELP DESK SET UP
- Helpdesks has been set up to facilitate poor families to avail govt. schemes and especially ration. Nearly 867 families have been guided to receive the ration facilities provided by the government.
INFORMATION/UPDATES ON ORGANIZATION’S WEBSITE W.R.T. COVID 19 OUTBREAK
- www. ashadeeptech.com
- Respective schools and colleges that are associated in the relief work are updating reports in their websites.
HUMAN RESOURCE ENGAGED
- Human Resources engaged in reaching out to the Covid-19 lockdown affected migrant laborers are the staff, volunteers of the institutions, woman religious collaborators, Jesuits, local panchayat, ward leaders, govt officials like BDO, local MLA, District Magistrates, and especially the police.
VEHICLES DEDICATED FOR RELIEF WORK
- Vehicles such as two and four wheelers have been allotted for distribution purposes.
- More than Rs.16 lakhs from Patna Jesuit Society and institutions has been earmarked to provide relief in future.
- Financial aid of Rs.500 was provided to 28 victims/migrants.
- We are also depending on the local contribution from the alumni, students, staff and well-wishers.
- Province scholars have written articles in “Indian Currents” about the COVID-19 situation and the measures to be taken in the plight of migrant labourers and suggesting measures for the post lockdown period.
- Manthan & BDVS, Patna will continue to distribute the cooked food to an average of 1000 people daily as long as we receive support from IRCTC.
- Jeevan Sanhgham, Bodhgaya will continue to stitch more masks and distribute to the poor families.
- Ratnapurwa partner will continue the dry ration and mask distribution.
- St. Xavier’s College of Management and Technology, Patna; St. Xavier’s School, St. Michael’s school, Patna; Patna; St. Ignatius School, Aurangabad, etc., will continue to do the relief work by themselves and also through the rural centres.
- The Nine Social Action Centers of the Patna Province along with the Patna Jesuit Society ( PJS) will continue to engage in relief services, creating awareness about sanitation, distributing mask, medical help, etc., in collaboration with the Patna Jesuit educational and pastoral institutions, women religious , other NGO’s and likeminded people and our own staff and volunteers.
- The Patna Jesuits will consider concessions to students in our schools and hostels in the present scenario and taking into account the individual cases.
Special Interventions / Unique Case Studies & Practices
Jeevan Sangham, Bodhgaya: We have found that poverty is hidden in villages. Outwardly, certain houses may suggest that they are not poor. Households which depended on income from migration, found themselves in difficult situation. The sudden fall in their income, caused much hardships in their life. Such was the case that we encountered in Belaganj. The young man who migrated to Delhi for work used to send money home for his wife and three children. For the last two months he could not send money. He is held up in Delhi. The family found it difficult to manage. A few days, they managed with borrowing rice from neighbors. This household do not have ration card either. As a result, the household experienced much hardship. She found it difficult to feed her children. In desperation she called up the help line number of labor commission who contacted us in turn to help this family. This experience helped us to encounter poverty hidden in many households which are not so easily visible to naked eye. Even the neighbors do not have patience to know the actual situation of the one living next door.
-Fr. Anto Joseph, SJ, Community Leader, JS, Bodhgaya & Dir, BDVS, Patna
Manthan, Khagaul, Patna: In the first week of the lockdown, we were not doing anything much other than taking stock of the situations in the villages. On the 03rd of April, Fr. Juno, SJ, Director, Manthan, visited a village (Murgiya Chak) to find out the situation. In my interaction one Old lady told me, “We may be saved from corona virus, but we will die of starvation for sure”. Another woman told me, “I have not eaten anything for the last three days”. These two things made me to think loud and take a step to reach out to the needy as soon as possible. Then we came in touch with the Indian railways catering department and started distributing cooked food to people in different villages. Then I also requested our friends, well-wishers and the Province to help us to respond to the situation. All of them helped us generously. My deepest experience during the lock down is that that “our hearts are opened” to the reality and to the least and the last.
-Fr. Juno Sebastian, SJ, Dir, Manthan