Canon Dr Vinay Samuel, former General Secretary of EFAC and his wife Colleen lead Divya Shanthi Christian Community Ministry in a part of Bangalore, India where many low-income families live.
He reports on the Lockdown:
Our government has declared a lock down in Bangalore city. Of course, it is not followed by a lot of people.
We have locked down our Divya Shanthi compound/complex. Only those living in the compound will carry on some basic duties and care for the children and the facilities. We have one 96 year old, 3 in their seventies, 15 other adults and 46 children and youth from a 4 month old to 18 years living in our compound of less than an acre. That makes it challenging.
Our Health Centre will remain open with one nurse and a doctor on call. The ambulance will be available as needed. A maintenance staff have been asked to move on to the compound to help keep the place going.
We are thankful that my family have lived long periods in the west and managed without any domestic help. So it is not difficult at all to care for ourselves. All the people who help clean and cook live in very crowded and not very hygienic places. They do have a bath when they come in and change their clothes to the ones provided by us but this does not seem adequate for the present situation. So we have asked them not to come in and we will have to care for ourselves and the children for the next two weeks. All the staff are told not to come till March 31 and work from home where possible.
The situation in India is dire according to the doctors who are very worried about what could happen. Some politicians are understandably concerned not to spread panic among the people and so put a hopeful spin on the situation.
The best medical diagnostic company in Bangalore and possibly India has branches all over Bangalore and several of our cities. The Vice President of the Lab came to see our health facility last Saturday as they are willing to open a diagnostic centre at our health centre to serve the low income/poor families of our area. Many are living in extremely congested and unhygienic conditions. We are asking them to take good care of themselves.
The Lab is keen to open a testing centre immediately as we are close to more than 15,000 families living in crowded slum like conditions. Sadly the VP told me that they have no testing kits as the State will not allow then to import any and has the monopoly over the supply of the kits. The State has not allowed private medical centres to do any other testing related to the virus till they tell them what to do. So we are in a difficult situation. We have at least two of our staff who show symptoms of the virus and were sent off today to the Government Hospital for testing. We live from hour to hour and need your prayers.
Our ministry to the community has to continue as it is more needed now. Our shelter for elderly homeless women can only accommodate 15. And as they cannot go out now they need to be fed three meals a day. Christian folk offer to provide some meals and it is encouraging to see that ministry to people in need continues in the midst of much fear.
From the Church of England Newspaper, March 26 2020