There is a long wait for those waiting their turn to leave Mumbai on the trains and buses made available by the authorities. People checked in 3 or 4 weeks ago. Then their names had to climb the boundless computer-generated list. They were then called by the police to the local police station to verify their identity 4-5 hours in advance. There they are then taken on a municipal bus that takes them to the railway station. There, too, their temperature is checked, and they stand in line waiting for their seat to be assigned. The whole process takes about 6-8 hours, if all goes well, and eventually, their train leaves the station.
But sometimes the train is 4 or 6 hours late, or canceled. It is a nightmare for them, because they are not people used to living on the street at night.
The Salesians in the center of Nerul provide internal migrants returning home with a package of nutritious food for the trip and a bottle of water. Many of them, arriving at their destination, call to thank the Salesians. “There was no canteen on the train, no stalls opened for even a cup of tea in the stations we stopped ... Your food packet was what kept us going,” said one of them.
“Thank your Father, your food packet was the only food we received for our entire 3-day trip. God will surely bless you and all those that helped us,” added another who made it home.
For his part, Fr D'Souza says: “Every time we give food to migrants on the road, we accompany it with a word of encouragement: 'God be with you on your journey, pray for us and for those who have helped give you these packages'. And while I give him the blessing, they answer me in chorus: Bhagwan apka bala kare, that is, 'God bless you all', they reciprocate the blessing. One feels the deep sense of gratitude for a small packet of food and water, as if it were their most valuable gift received for their journey.”