Challenges and Responses to combat the COVOD-19 pandemic

Challenges and Responses to combat the COVOD-19 pandemic

We feel impeded by the lockdown. The urgency and challenge of the situation is evident to all of us. I need not remind you. News, both international and national, is all over the place—TV, Press, Social Media. This pandemic has definitely been hit the heart of the humanity—Wealthier countries which never, ever imagined that such a medical emergency would hit them, have been shaken. And this has rattled everyone, everywhere.

  1. Brief description of the COVID emergency in St. Camillus Province in India such as:
  2. The number of confreres infected with COVID-19 and the seriousness of his health condition. In India, PM Narendra Modi declared a three-week nationwide lockdown starting midnight Tuesday, 25th March, explaining that it was the only way of breaking the Covid-19 infection cycle. This essentially extended the lockdown from most states and Union Territories to the entire country and provided a more definite timeline.Social distancing is the only way to break the cycle of infection.As of now, we have 109 deaths and the number of infected cases identified are 4067 but the actual number would be more of it. We are locked down inside of the community/seminary/social rehabilitation centres/hospital and we get out only for the purchase of necessary and required materials for the community/centre. No confrere is infected with COVID-19 so far in India and also those confreres who are in abroad (Italy, Ireland, Germany, USA, Philippines and Uganda), though active in the pastoral care ministry in the hospital (On Call) are not infected by the grace of God and by the grace of our Charism of Mercy.
  3. infected personnel in our healthcare facilities: Secondly, none of our health personnel is infected with
  4. The closed ministries:Thirdly, we continue to serve the poor sick people in our social rehabilitation centre and the hospitals too.
  5. Major difficulties: Frankly speaking about the difficulties that we face in our province and in the society are;
  6. It has affected the vocation promotion program
  7. Hindered the exams and holiday program for the brothers
  8. Postpone the dates of Ordination, Temporary profession and Retreats
  9. Confreres got up in different places/centres/communities due to this lock down
  10. Lack of enough financial resources to meet the challenges of the time/Fund raising programs have been stopped
  • Strategies and initiatives being done to combat the pandemic

There is also another tragedy or “pandemic” caused by this virus and our response to it. In a country where 9 out of 10 workers are employed in the unorganized sector—with no insurance or permanent job or pension—the closing down of business meant: No job, no salary, no food. Plus, often, no place to stay. Hence the thousands of migrant workers struggling to get back to their home state, even walking hundreds of kilometres.They need food and shelter—urgently.In every situation we face, God has a message for us, which we need to hear, and respond to. The question facing us, Church in India (and elsewhere), especially its leadership and its special cadre (priests and religious) is: What is God asking us to do? How are we supposed to respond?

  1. THINGS TO DO (for our own protection)
  2. Follow all government rules and guidelines (on staying at home, on quarantine, etc.).
  3. Practice social distancing: When we need to interact with people, keep a distance of 1.5 to 2 metres. (This prevents droplets from an affected person’s cough, sneeze or talk from reaching others). There are religious communities in Italy and Spain where most of the members fell sick with COVID-19.
  4. Practice respiratory hygiene: Cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue into a closed container. This is to protect others.
  5. Wash hands frequently and when coming from outside, or touching objects handled by others (e.g., vegetables, newspaper, door knobs, …). Wash WITH SOAP, thoroughly, for 20 seconds. This is better than using sanitizers.
  6. Keep a few sanitizers in the house.
  7. Support people through social media contact—phone calls, SMS, WhatsApp, etc. This is the time to show more love and concern towards one another. Avoiding physical contact should be supplemented by more contacts of this type.
  8. Prayer: Gives us strength and peace and shows us how to love and help one another.
  9. Be more attentive to the more vulnerable, namely, the elderly and those with existing medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease).
  10. Self-isolate oneself (stay in one’s room) when we have cold or fever.
  11. Gargle with warm saline water twice a day.
  12. Simplify life. This is a good time to check what we really need and what we don’t.
  13. Start a kitchen garden if you have space.
  14. Establish guidelines (in consultation with doctors) on what to do if a community member or employee gets sick.
  15. Have an agreement with the government officials and the police for helping the needy, e.g., providing food, providing buildings for quarantine, etc.
  16. Plan to have one or more rooms for isolating sick people, should the need arise.
  • THINGS TO AVOID
  • Travel, even going out of the house, except for necessities.
  • Meeting in groups
  • Being physically closer than 1.5 metres
  • Getting visitors
  • “Touching M-E-N” (mouth, eyes, nose). This is how infection spreads from the hands to our organism.
  • Touching surfaces and objects on which the virus may be found. (So, wooden, plastic and metal surfaces should be cleaned with a cleaning solution, since the virus can survive on them for many hours. Since newspapers have no cover, and we do not know who or what they have been in contact with, it may be good to discontinue getting newspapers. But pay the one who brings it; local distributors are often poorer people who need that money.)
  • REACHING OUT TO THE VICTIMS:

While we have the means—clean, well-maintained houses with good rooms and much space, good food, medical care, time and space for work, prayer, meals and relaxation, and tremendous financial security—many thousands (and millions) in our country do not. Their immediate cry is not escaping COVID-19, but for food and shelter. A number of good people and institutions are reaching out in very loving and effective ways. Let me list a few, so that we can learn from them, contact them, if we desire, and do our part. Let me mention a number of things (small or big) that are making a difference, from whose example all of us can learn.

We need to MOVE FAST. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!

The initiatives and strategies that we have been involved with in the Province, along with other NGOs and Government agencies are the following;

  1. CTF: We are also providing a kit with essentials (rice, dal, etc.) and distributing it in several places. We can reach out and help—by getting clearance and support from the government (e.g. collector or local MLA or the police Commissioner).
  2. Martyrs of Charity: A Prayer Group:As Camillians, having the great legacy of embracing the Martyrdom of Charity, we continue to pray in every moment in this group by its members (Apostles Creed, Divine Mercy Chaplet, Holy Rosary, Novena to St. Camillus, Memorare and Psalms) in solidarity with people who are infected, affected and deceased due to COVID-19 and for those take care of them.
  3. Fr. Biju Sebastian (National Coordinator of CTF and Asian Coordinator of CADIS-International): “you can talk to a counsellor at no cost”; Online Psychological support, Information and guidance to the infected/affected by COVID-19. He is making himself available (7/24) to everyone.
  4. Fr. SibyKaitharan: Motivating hundreds of people through his video program which is very informative, effective and helpful.
  5.  Urgent needs, such as supplies, personnel, funds, etc.

The urgent need here in India is to listen to the cry of the poor sick, the homeless, the hungry and people in the observation/quarantine and to pragmatically and practically respond to meet their requirements. The needs and necessary requirements are the following”

  • The daring healthcare volunteers; we need to mobilize this resource as everyone is afraid to put himself into it
  • Enough financial support and resources to buy the food provision kit to supply to those in need, particularly to the migrants
  • Need to shelter the homeless people in our social centres, particularly for the people who are under the observation period
  • Weneed to come together and do something and we can reach out to many by providing kits with essentials, distributing food packets, making and distributing masks, putting our buildings at the disposal of the needy, providing vehicles and drivers to help poor or sick people to get home, and finally we can make a huge difference
  • Spiritual support and fraternal encouragement to our dear healthcare workers
  • To have a common platform to share the updates, challenges and needs of our great Camillian Charismatic Family

LET US MOVE FAST, WITHOUT WAITING FOR PERFECT OR EASIER CONDITIONS. GOD WAITS FOR OUR RESPONSE. He is suffering in our suffering brothers and sisters.

Fraternally in Jesus

Fr. Baby Ellickal MI

Provincial