INDIA: Salesian Center Nerul provides food and water to migrants trying to leave Mumbai
(MissionNewswire) The situation in India remains a challenge as the country continues to respond to COVID-19. Many migrant citizens are still looking to return to their home states within the country. Numerous special convoys have been organized, but social distancing measures and the large number of people involved make everything slow, complicated and painful. Father Barnabe D’Souza, director of the Salesian Center Nerul, and his team are helping those seeking to get out of Mumbai.
There is a long wait for those looking to leave Mumbai on the trains and buses made available by the authorities. People checked in three to four weeks ago for their trip but must wait until their names are called from the computer-generated list. When they are called, they must go to the local police station to verify their identity four to five hours in advance. They are then taken on a municipal bus to the railway station. There, their temperature is checked and they stand in line waiting for their seat to be assigned. The whole process takes about six to eight hours. If all goes well, their train leaves the station. But sometimes the train is up to six hours late or canceled. It is a nightmare for them because they are not used to living on the street at night.
The Salesians Center is providing migrants with a package of nutritious food for the trip and a bottle of water. Many of them call to thank the Salesians after arriving at their destination. One of them noted, “There was no canteen on the train, no stalls opened for even a cup of tea in the stations where we stopped. Your food packet was what kept us going.” Another migrant wrote, “Thank you Father, your food packet was the only food we received for our entire three day trip. God will surely bless you and all those that helped us.”
Fr. D’Souza said, “Every time we give food to migrants on the road, we accompany it with a word of encouragement. 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.”
India has the world’s fourth largest economy but more than 22 percent of the country lives in poverty. About 31 percent of the world’s multidimensionally poor children live in India, according to a report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. A multidimensionally poor child is one who lacks at least one-third of 10 indicators, grouped into three dimensions of poverty: health, education and standard of living.
Salesian missionaries living and working in India place special emphasis on rescuing and rehabilitating children engaged in child labor. There are Salesian-run programs throughout the country that have helped hundreds of thousands of vulnerable youth through the years, and this work continues today.
Missionaries will continue to assess needs for prevention and support during this challenging time and work to support youth and their families in ways they can during this pandemic.
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Salesian Missions – India
World Bank – India