Divya Shanthi selected as vaccination centre for 59,000 in Bangalore

Canon Vinay Samuel continues his Bangalore Diary of Christmas and New Year activities.

The New Year began with bad news of the virus, closure of schools and the lockdown of much of the UK. We have been much in prayer for our colleagues, friends, family and the people of UK. Our own situation has not gone worse. Daily new infections have settled at around 700 and daily deaths have come down to just above a 100 in our State.

We thank God for enabling all our Christmas and New Year activities to go without a hitch. Our targets were met of providing a month’s provisions to 350 families (200 Christian and 150 from other faiths) still struggling with no regular employment or income. 150 of the 550 families who belong to our congregations are also very poor and were given, in addition, a Christmas hamper with a Chicken for Christmas day and money for Christmas clothes for their children.

400 Christmas gift packets were made with sweets, an orange and a toy and distributed to street children on Christmas Eve. They were gathered together in small group ,the Christmas story was told, the gift packet given and we had no trouble with the police!

Our yearly visits to youth in the State Remand home and the home for Children with HIV Aids with gifts and food also went as planned. We were able to do more than in previous years and our congregation members gave time to participate in all the sharing we did. The Young Adult group was particularly active and also generous with their financial support.

All the costs for the activities came from gifts given by local Christian friends in response to our appeal that we sent by Dec 3 this year.

Our Christmas and New Year’s services were also well attended both in person and on line. We are particularly encouraged by the growth in numbers in our Kannada speaking services. We have two services and, after years of poor numbers, we are beginning to grow with young families, youth and children.

The State Government agreed that in person classes for students in Standard 10 to 12 can start from Jan 4. Each child had to come ready with a Covid negative certificate of a test taken three days earlier. We knew that most of our children would not be able to get such a test done. The Municipal medical team agreed to test our children last weekend and provide the certificates. The certificates reached us on Tuesday and we could start the in person classes from Wednesday Jan 6.

We are delighted all the students attended classes today. Online classes are continuing for standards 2 to 9 and teachers are conducting them from our own classrooms and not from their homes. An Inspector of Schools did a surprise visit to our school today and was quite impressed with safety measures we have taken, our computer equipment and the teachers doing online classes from the classrooms. We are very encouraged

It is also most encouraging to see the results of the training for online teaching that Ruth conducted for four weeks last month. I attended their presentations and was very impressed with their use of white board, screen sharing, power points, videos, etc and the Google class room. They seemed very comfortable with technology and also very creative. Thank you for your gifts that made so much of this possible. I am also delighted that Colleen is now quite used to Zoom meetings, Google class room and online learning.

The Area Municipal Medical Officer came to see me yesterday (January 6) and requested that our health centre be the main centre for Covid vaccination facility for the area. We expect the vaccinations to start in 10 days. Both our facilities will be used and we need to cover about 59,000 individuals. Dr Venkatesh was himself hospitalized with Covid for nearly a month. Our team visited him and prayed with him regularly. He is very keen on partnership with our health programmme. We will also provide about 15 volunteers to assist with the vaccination programme. Being chosen as the vaccination centre for the area is a big boost for our primary health programme and will expand our community health work significantly.

We are preparing to restart our vocational training programmes by the end of this month. A three month training in basic computing skills including accounting packages is under preparation and will be done in partnership with Barnabas India team.

The Elder Care training programme that was put on hold will restart in a month or so once the main trainer lets us know her availability. Our Tailoring programme has continued in a very low key way. We hope to get back to normal this month training 50 women in our six month programme. Our carpentry training will also start soon once we have at least three young people keen to become carpenters.

Spiritual ministry continues with our team of seven. Lhama our youth worker has dropped out as she is still keen on returning to the outskirts of Bhutan to train young Tibetan believers. Divya Shanthi will always be her home. Naveen has taken up youth work and is doing well focusing on Tamil and Kannada speaking youth. Joseph is working with our young adults team and enabling them to minister to English speaking youth.

We thank God for his protection in the past month as there were a number of meetings when “outsiders” were present. We could not keep our doors closed at Christmas time. We need your prayers as we seek God’s will about what we should focus on and what we should avoid. The needs are many and we have many opportunities to address people’s needs.