"The shortcomings in the country are beyond our normal competences: hospital beds, intensive care units, lung ventilators, oxygen, crematory ovens ...," testifies directly from India, Fr George Menamparampil, Head of the Salesian Mission Offices, and now over a year, the Coordinator of the “Don Bosco Solidarity - Covid-19” project, the Salesian global coordination initiative in the face of the pandemic emergency.
“In this context, what we are able to do for people in the current situation is:
- Distribute groceries, cooked food, protective equipment and toiletries, which we manage to deliver directly to the poor.
- Provide oxygen concentrators and/or mini oxygen-producing machines to hospitals and other treatment centers.
- Conduct awareness campaigns in favor of vaccination.”
Fr Menamparampil echoes Fr Noel Maddhichetty SDB, Director of the “Don Bosco Network - South Asia”, who believes that this new wave of infections has not yet reached its peak. “I expect a significant increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks. Public life has again come to a standstill.”
Those who have not been able to prepare now face enormous problems. In rural areas, especially, many people have not been swabbed, adds Fr Maddhichetty. “One priest from near Mumbai told me about villages in the region where many of the inhabitants had symptoms but where no test kits were available. Nor can the people here hope to receive any medical care or supplies.” As a result, it is very likely that coronavirus-related infections and deaths are still higher than the already tragic official figures.
The Salesians were forced to close all their schools in India. Students cannot take their school-leaving exams. There have also been cases of Covid-19 among teachers, staff and families of students and many are putting themselves in self-isolation as a precaution.
In recent months alone, according to Fr Maddhichetty, the Salesian intervention network has provided food and health products to more than seven million needy people in India, giving priority to people in street conditions and the most marginalized.
“Now Covid test kits, vaccines and medicines are urgently in need,” concludes Fr Maddhichetty.
Fr Menamparampil invites us to support the 11 Salesian Provinces of India in their efforts to meet the needs of the poor.