Campaign reaches out to over 1,000 pandemic-affected people a day in Karnataka state
CoronaCare Bengaluru volunteers hand out food packages to people affected by the pandemic. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)
A group of Christian organizations in the southern Indian state of Karnataka have initiated a food program to help people affected by the pandemic.
CoronaCare Bengaluru is a joint Covid-19 intervention by six leading Christian organizations in Bengaluru, state capital of Karnataka. The organizations are Hope, Breads, Echo, Aifo, Good Quest Foundation and Orione Seva.
Hope is the social initiative of the Claretians of Bangalore, Breads is the social wing of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Echo is the program of the Norbertine Fathers, Orione Seva is the social enterprise of the Servants of Divine Providence, Aifo is an Italian society working for the welfare of the persons with disabilities and disaster victims, and the Good Quest Foundation is a youth initiative of professionals.
“The program was started on April 25 when the city was witnessing an increasing number of Covid victims. We started with 30 persons and now are able to reach out to over 1,000 per day,” said Father George Kannanthanam, founder of Hope and national secretary of the Catholic Health Association of India.
“Our food package contains rice, bread, lentils, vegetables and eggs. Our volunteers go around the city and distribute cooked food that will help the victims with their lunch and dinner.
“Even when the country was facing the challenges of Covid-19 last year, we were able to distribute dry rations for the needy, but this time the situation is different, which prompted us to give cooked food.”
During the first wave, CoronaCare was able to provide more than 100,000 masks in the initial days and survival kits to over 26,000 during the lockdown in Bangalore covering those with leprosy, HIV and disabilities as well as refugees and migrants.
“We covered about 1,500 tribal families in the deep forests of Karnataka and supplied 40,000 cooked food packages,” Father Kannanthanam told UCA News.
“We were able to execute the Mother’s Meal program last year to provide support to families in distress and given meal kits to over 3,000 families.
This year CoronaCare’s partner, the Good Quest Foundation, has been able to mobilize volunteers through its network. Most are professionals and students. “To our surprise, many female volunteers also came forward to be part of this risky work,” the priest said.
Meanwhile, apart from the food packages, CoronaCare Bengaluru has reached out with survival kits to the most affected groups, a May 8 press release said.
About 100 leprosy-affected families and 55 families with disabled members were provided with 1,000 rupees worth of dry ration kits.
Volunteers have also reached out to ambulance drivers who wait for endless hours at crematoriums. In some places volunteers have given away their own food packages to beggars on the road.
“We are now collaborating with the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin to provide food security for Covid-affected 1,000 tribal families in Wayanad district of Kerala,” Father Kannanthanam said.
“Our latest effort is also to set up a Covid care center in Bengaluru for those who require primary care since there is a severe shortage of hospital beds. We plan this in collaboration with Niti Aayog of the Indian government that coordinates various civil society initiatives for Covid.”
India recorded 403,738 fresh Covid cases on May 9, taking the overall caseload to 22 million. The number of deaths climbed to 242,362 with 4,092 daily deaths as of May 9.
Karnataka reported 47,563 new Covid-19 cases and 482 deaths on May 8, of which 21,534 cases and 285 deaths were from Bengaluru.