FMA OF GUWAHATI PROVINCE IN ACTION IN THE COVID-19 CRISIS – Sr. Penny Rose Chinir FMA
COVID – 19 pandemic which broke out in Wuhan, China in December 2019 has become a global issue as it has reached out to 209 countries and territories around the world. According to the statistics of 9 April 2020, it is reported 1425468 cases and 81939 diseased at world level. While in India 6637 have been confirmed, 5840 active, 598 recovered and 199 diseased. Due to this global pandemic, the 21-day lockdown in India resulted loss of livelihood amidst social distancing rules disproportionately affecting migrant workers, daily wage-earners, the urban poor and other vulnerable groups. The lockdown has rendered many jobless and penniless, leaving families without the basic necessities of daily survival; needless to mention about the anxiety and uncertainty looming large in their hearts. Hunger, lack of sanitary kits and loss of income has become the plight of many people in various pockets of towns and cities.
In solidarity with the Church and with the suffering humanity, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA), also known as the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco of the province of Guwahati under the leadership of Sr. Alphonsa Kurinsingal, provincial carried out various activities to the neediest. They are expressing their sense of solidarity and reaching out to the people who suffer the brunt of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemics in the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur, working in eight dioceses of the Northeast India.
In her circular letter, Mother General Yvonne Ruengoat said that prayer becomes a tangible sign of witnessing love when it is actualized in action; it is all the more significant and meaningful when it is translated in accompanying the Church and the world in ways that are compatible to the signs of the time (cf. Cir. 995). Bearing in mind her words, Sr. Alphonsa Kurisingal and the provincialate community at Christian Basti, Guwahati responded to the clarion call of the present situations of COVID-19 by distributing packages to the poor families of the slum dwellers, migrants and daily labourers from 7 April 2020 onwards. Each package consisted of 5 kg of rice, 2 kg dal and 1 kg salt which have been distributed to 40 families, consisting of more than 200 people. It is done with an act of solidarity with the suffering brethren and a gesture of Christian charity without any distinction of caste, creed, culture and language. The Sisters continue to witness daily the plight of the poor people who have nothing to sustain their daily basic necessities and stand in queue to get something. “Their joys know no bound as they receive the little that they are being served. They return home with much gratitude” reported by Sr. Teresa Aibanti Narah.
Sr. Catherine Kannampuzha and community of Holy Child School Guwahati reached out to 120 families mainly, migrants, domestic workers, wage labourers and construction workers. They were provided with dry ration relief packages on 7 April 2020. Each relief package contained 5 kg rice, 2 kg cereal (dal) and detergents. Sr. Annie Inchenat, director of Auxilium Reach Out, together with her team distributed masks for them simultaneously.
The community of St. Mary’s Guwahati under the animation of Sr. Bridget Chittappanattu reached out to a group of daily labourers who could not go home due to the lockdown and they had neither food nor money. So they gave 10 kg of rice, two kg of dal, 5 kg of potatos and 2 kg of sugar each along with a cash of Rs 3000/- (three thousand) The community also contributed to the fund of Guwahati Gana Seva Society an amount of Rs 20,000/- (twenty thousand only) by bank transfer.
The humanitarian services provided by the Salesian Sisters of Guwahati province as documented in the FMA Provincial Office, so far, 30,000 (thirty thousand) masks have been stitched and distributed. The beneficiaries are the migrants and other poor families who live in the tea gardens, slums and interior villages where the Sisters work in the different parts of the of the North east region.
There were 74 volunteers to stitch 30,000 masks in the 10 houses of the FMA Guwahati province: 1) Auxilium Troncati Home, Sonabheel Tea Estate, Bokajen, Assam, 2) Auxilium Convent, Village Bodofa, NWGWR (Kodomtola), Assam, 3) Auxilium Convent, Dotma, Assam, 4) Auxilium Reach Out, Chandmari, Guwahati, Assam, 5) Little Flower School, Dibrugarh, Assam, 6) Auxilium Convent, Bordumsa, Arunachal Pradesh, 7) Little Flower training Centre, Kohima, Nagaland 8) Auxilium Convent, Shajouba, Manipur 9) Sneha Bhavan, Imphal, Manipur and 10) Auxilium Convent, Maram Centre, Manipur.
The community of Little Flower School, Dibrugarh also contributed 200 masks to Mr. Prakash Topno, Municipal Office Staff Dibrugarh.
On 8 April 2020, St Joseph’s Convent, Tezpur under the leadership of Sr. Ashiho Kaini Maria reached out to the neighboring daily wagers and families who have been affected by the pandemic lockdown. The Sisters distributed to each one a package consisting of 5 kg of rice, 1kg of dal, 3 kg of potatoes and masks. A contribution of Rs 15,000/- was also given in collaboration with the diocese of Tezpur in the partnership wake of who in joining the raising of chief minister’s fund to fight against the covid-19 pandemic. Besides praying and monetary help in collaboration with the dioceses and co-operation with the government, the FMA make every effort to fight against the global corona virus pandemics and gives its humanitarian services for the cause of the humanity especially the poorest that have been affected by the pandemic lockdowns.