Sisters of Missionaries of Charity provide aid in Ranchi; build community kitchen for marginalized

Catholic churches all over the country have stepped up relief efforts

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As the coronavirus spreads its tentacles in the country, people from all faiths have joined hands to help those in need and curb the spread of the infection.

In Jharkhand, to help the vulnerable and marginalized amid the ongoing 21-day lockdown, the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity have joined hands with the district administration and opened a community kitchen that will feed 600 impoverished people every day for a month, reported The Telegraph India.

The Ranchi administration had reached out to different organizations for help with kitchens and shelters and many such organizations came forward too.

One such community kitchen was formally opened for local residents, many of whom are inflicted by leprosy and on the verge of starvation with their stock of ration about to dry up. It was inaugurated by Archbishop Felix Toppo and Auxiliary Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas at Indiranagar Colony in Jagannathpur.

The archdiocese opened 14 shelters across the district for migrant labourers, who are stranded in the district. While shelters at Muri, Tamar and Khelari have some occupants, others are ready to receive more as and when they arrive.

A source from the Ranchi Catholic Archdiocese explained how the community kitchen is ensuring that the community comes together at this time. Contributions for the endeavor have poured in from individuals too, apart from the church taking up the onus to run the kitchen. The district administration is set to provide rice and pulses, while a donor called Punit Poddar has agreed to supply cooking oil, onion and garlic. The church is set to procure vegetables, potatoes and firewood. The food will then be cooked by the villagers under the guidance of the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity.

“We have always been doing our bit to help the poor and the needy and will continue to do so,” said a sister at the Missionaries of Charity, adding they would soon open such a community kitchen in another area in collaboration with the Catholic Charities.

Even the Vasai Diocese in Mumbai, are taking care of Dalits and tribals, migrants of every caste and creed who are rendered homeless due to the lockdown, said Archbishop Felix Machado, the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India.

“The Church is always a Mother, looking after her children, especially those in need, and in these special times, the Church in India is indeed a Mother, providing for her children, the Tribal, Dalits migrants. In Vasai, there are particular parishes, where these people are concentrated. All help is being given to them,” Machado told Crux.

In Nashik too, Bishop Lourdes Daniel who heads the Diocese there and is serving all who come to the church in need, said, “No one will go hungry. In these times, with the lockdown, many of our migrants have lost their jobs, but our Church is for everyone, a place for refugee for every Dalit and Tribal migrant without discrimination; our priests are helping our people.”

Serving people in Nagpur, Archbishop Elias Gonsalves told Crux, “My heart goes out to them. I have instructed both Nagpur and Amravati social work directors to start the relief work especially for daily wage labourers and brick kiln workers. May God help us to help others.”

In Bangalore, Archbishop Peter Machado has taken initiatives to distribute grocery items to the poor and provide temporary shelter to those stranded.

In Uttar Pradesh, Father Anand Mathew, the convener of the Sajha Sanskriti Manch (United Forum for Cultural Diversity) is carrying out relief efforts throughout Varanasi, serving the lease privileged and marginalized Dalit communities – the ‘musahar’s or ‘rat eaters’.

He said, “This campaign has been a big blessing for them because they have no money in the hand: They live a life hand to mouth. This campaign will go on as long as the lockdown continues and as the funds keep coming from individuals in the city and their friends in different parts of the country.”

In Lucknow too, Bishop Gerald J Mathias, with the help of the social services wing of the local Church is providing families with rice, pulses, lentils, sugar and hygiene products.

Migrants, daily wagers and contract labourers were the most affected by the 21-day lockdown. After the lockdown was announced, hundreds of them started walking back to their native villages for security and sustenance. Some even died on the way – some due to the cold, some in accidents and some due to starvation. The government hadn’t factored them in, when the lockdown was announced and when the relief measures were announced, they were too little and too late.

Before the government aid could trickle in, it was different volunteer organizations and religious organizations like the church which came to the rescue of such marginalized people. It is heartening to see members from all faiths and communities stepping up to provide aid and relief to the last person in need, especially at a time when such impoverished are short of means to sustain themselves.


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