Mask Distribution to St. Joseph’s Hospital

Greetings from Bishop Thomas Paulsamy, Diocese of Dindigul, Tamil Nadu, India!

Thank you for your prompt response to my mail. It is heart-breaking to hear the impact of COVID 19, the pandemic threatening the human existence all over the world. Of course, the worst affected countries include America and the European countries. We really sympathize with all the nations affected severely.

The situation in India is not very different. A 21-day Corona Virus lockdown – the world’s largest – is wreaking havoc on India, where more than a quarter of its 1.39 billion people live below the poverty line. The unprecedented lockdown has stung millions of poor in the world’s second-most populous country, leaving many hungry and forcing jobless migrant labourers to flee cities and walk hundreds of kilometres to their native villages. The informal workers form the backbone of the Indian economy, comprising about 85 percent of all employment, according to official data. Many buy food with the money they make each day and have no savings to fall back on.

In an economy already reeling under a demand depression, rising unemployment, and lowering of industrial output and profits, all of which happening together for several quarters now, a supply-side constraint delivers a big blow, jeopardizing growth prospects and social and economic wellbeing of a large number of people.

Though India was not severely affected by COVID 19 till 31st March, the pandemic has started spreading fast in the last four days and the infected rate had doubled in four days. In India, Tamilnadu was least affected till March end. But now our state ranks the second most infected state with high prevalence rate. Still heart breaking is that within the state, our District of Dindigul stands in 3rd place with high prevalence among the 37 districts. 45 infected cases have been identified in our district.  

The pandemic also brings with it enormous human suffering not seen in decades. The human cost of the coronavirus is unimaginably high. Many vulnerable people like the differently able, the blind, the slum dwellers who are daily wage labourers, domestic workers, rikshaw-pullers, scavengers, construction workers, truck drivers, the beggars and street dwellers are begging for food and basic necessities. The government did not plan ahead of announcing the 21-day lockdown. The worst affected are the poor who are struggling for their survival in the absence of daily work. It is mostly likely to be extended for another 28 days after April 15th.

The unprecedented and unplanned 21-day lockdown has brought daily life to standstill, the poor is facing the most hardship. In this miserable condition, the vulnerable people need our philanthropic gesture for food and other basic necessities like nutrition for children, sanitary items, basic medicines etc.

The poor are struggling for survival. The Government offered a relief package of INR.1000 (USD 12.5) cash and provisions that can at the most last for 5 to 7 days. But it is not at all adequate. Instead of planning solid relief measures, the Central government at Delhi and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces unscientific populist programmes like Switching of lights for 9 minutes and lighting the candle at night on 5th April and earlier clapping hands in gratitude to the doctors etc.

However, communication on and awareness of the pandemic coronavirus, the mode of transmission, symptoms and scope of accessing treatment services  are made through all kinds of media. It has reached out the nook and corner of the rural mass. Prevention of the spread of the pandemic is done effectively by the state government. People are permitted to go out for procurement of provisions in the markets in the morning hours. The importance of wearing masks and keeping social distance etc are communicated

However, the ruling political party at the centre is communalizing the coronavirus by cornering the Muslims as the cause for wide spread of the pandemic. The distribution of fund to the state is not done as per the needs but the ruling BJP states are provided more funds than needed while the non BJP ruled states like Tamilnadu is given very minimum comparatively. The fact is that the central government’s response to this major crisis is insignificant and inadequate.

Our Response:

The Diocese is doing its best in response to this crisis in the following ways:

The Diocese entrusted the responsibility to its social entity, Dindigul Multipurpose Social Service Society (DMSSS) which is deeply engaged in communicating the awareness of spread of the pandemic.

The Diocesan Social Service Society being a lead NGO in the district, it is consulted on the preventive measures to control the spread of the virus. The Director of DMSSS, Rev.Fr.A. Samson Arockiadass is attending the weekly meeting organized by the District Administration under the leadership of the District Collector. DMSSS represents the sufferings of the poor and their basic needs including food, nutrition and other essential services that they have no access to.

DMSSS, Diocese of Dindigul prepared thousands of Face Masks with the support of its tailoring unit and supplied the same to the people in rural and slum areas of Dindigul district with the help of the faith based organizations and the Community Based Organizations promoted by the diocese of Dindigul.

Similarly, DMSSS arranged for supply of food and dry ration to the Blind and Physically challenged, the aged in its operational area. DMSSS is permitted by the local administration to distribute relief materials as it runs the 24 hours Child Help Line.

DMSSS has identified 50 volunteers and supplied to the local district administration for carrying out essential services and ensuring social distancing in key places. The lockdown period is going to be extended for a further period of 25 days. If it happens, the situation will go worse. Already cases of suicides due to various issues in families are reported.

The demand for humanitarian aid is large but there is no resource. We have made use of the available local fund considerably and we are not in a position to spend any more. We are hesitant to ask the donors as they too are affected by the endemic. We are looking forward to humanitarian aid. We pray that some of the needy get some help.

Please find attached some of the photos on our interventions.

Thank you


Yours in Christ

Bishop Thomas Paulsamy