What are the greatest needs today?
There is a great need for food and there is also a need for hospitals and quarantine sites. If one is contaminated in a family, that lives in a 5-square-meter room, how is it possible to maintain distance and isolation? The whole family will thus catch the virus. Yet despite the danger of being infected by the virus, people want to work: more people will die of hunger than coronavirus without work.
We know that with the heavy floods of these days, everything is more difficult and even more difficult to bring help. As a Church, what can you Salesians specifically do?
We have helped many people, especially migrants. As a Church, we have collaborated with the Government to put our hospitals, institutions, schools and colleges at the service of the Government to carry out tampon-tests, distribute medicines and house quarantines. The Salesians alone have reached over 2.5 million poor and young people, distributing a lot of food, disinfectants, and hygiene kits.
More than 100 million migrants in India: with the lockdown and total blockade, what has happened to their lives, what have you been able to do for them?
At the time of the lockdown in March, as all transport was blocked, there was a great exodus of thousands of migrants, who were on the move towards their destinations. Some walked up to 1,000 km in extreme heat and in difficult conditions. The ones to suffer most were children and women and families with small children. In general, the Church, religious and Salesians have been active in helping migrants to return to their villages of origin in various states of India. If we talk about the current situation, most migrants have returned home, but there they have no job, no opportunity, no money to buy food. We, with the Government, would like to be able to ensure that there is safe migration and better facilities, better wages for migrants and better living standards; and we would like to ensure that the children of migrants receive adequate education and training.
Even in your communities, as in the rest of the world, we imagine a high price has been paid in terms of infected lives. What is the situation in this regard?
It is nice to see so many many priests and religious who risk their lives in helping the poor and the most fragile people. In these days we have many priests, religious and nuns who have been infected by the virus and we already have news of the death of some of them who were very active in helping the poor.