India’s COVID-19 surge has overloaded its struggling heath system and is causing thousands of deaths per day.
Uniting Church partners, the Church of North India (CNI), are not immune. Battling to keep people fed as a second lockdown wreaks havoc, and spreading critical health information to help beat the spread of the disease, they’re on the front-line of the response in their communities.
“The ‘Corona Tsunami’, if one could say that, has left all of us paralysed,” Bishop Khimla of the Diocese of Durgapur told UnitingWorld. “There is immense suffering as the medical and social infrastructure struggles to cope with the pandemic. The church has also lost many ministers, both Pastors and Bishops.”
Project Officer, Sanjay Khaling was recently hospitalised after contracting COVID-19, while several staff of the Durgapur Education and Social Empowerment project have contracted COVID-19 along with family and friends. Despite the dangers, the church continues to serve the community as best they’re able. Bishop Samantaroy of the Amritsar Diocese said the church is working on immediate interventions, including free distribution of cooked food, dry rations and hygiene products like masks, sanitiser and soap.
Schools have been closed across the area, so girls attending the hostel project in Amritsar have gone home to their villages for at least a month and possibly two.
At the Amritsar Social Empowerment and Education project, study centres will continue in each village and the team are doing what they can to support people remotely.
“There has been a drastic rise in cases everyday here in Punjab,” Project Co-ordinator OP Prakash said. “In some [rural] villages people have tested positive, but the situation seems under control.”
While this team has experience from last year’s lengthy lockdown, the pandemic is reaching new heights in other areas.
The Eastern Himalayas Education project has had to close the school and move all activities online. Teachers are navigating the difficult task of teaching online while resourcing children who have little or no access to internet or devices.
“We are assured that UnitingWorld continues to be with us in spirit and prayers and believe that this too shall pass,” Bishop Khimla said. “We very much appreciate your prayers.”
UnitingWorld is supporting church partners to divert project funds to their COVID-19 responses where needed.
Donations will be very gratefully received to support their work. Donate now at unitingworld.org.au/india-covid-19-crisis.
Mardi Lumsden, UnitingWorld
Top image: Uniting Church partners, the Church of North India, supporting their community with food distribution.