On March 24, government officials in India implemented a national lockdown to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. With little more than four hours to make arrangements, the country’s 1.3 billion people were banned from leaving their homes. In-turn all non-essential businesses were closed, and all public gatherings were banned. Air, road and rail transport systems were suspended, and millions of poor daily wage workers lost their livelihood.
The Migrant Dilemma
Many unskilled people, including families with children, had migrated to large, urban cities in India seeking work. They worked in construction sites, small hotels, shops and street markets, just to name a few. Like many of us here in the United States, they suddenly had no jobs, no money and no possibility to make a long journey back to their villages and families. Daily wage migrant workers generally live hand-to-mouth, earning between 138–449 Indian rupees ($1.84–$5.97) per day, according to the International Labor Organization. Stranded and penniless, these migrants are wandering the streets, cities and towns. They are hungry and now homeless.
Children Suffering from Hunger
In India, there are more than 470 million children, with 40 million of those children living at or below the poverty level. Many children are left to fend for themselves, sometimes by working on farms in rural areas or as rag pickers in the cities. According to one estimate, Delhi alone has more than 70,000 street children. Many local charitable organizations are helping to feed these poor children with small meals, but many of the children only get to eat once every other day.
Franciscan Relief and a Plea for Help
Franciscan missionaries from the Shalom Friary in south central India are serving poor families, homeless migrants and street children in the neighborhoods of Hyderabad. Small daily meals are prepared and distributed by the Friars together with local Hindu and Catholic friends. Franciscan missionaries in other cities are distributing food, supplies and medicines to the most vulnerable families and children.
The Franciscan missionaries in India are pleading for help. Please find God’s love in your heart. Your generous gift will provide food, clean water, safe hygiene and sanitation. Access to sanitizer and sanitation is very important to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Help us support our Franciscan missionaries and vulnerable people around the world as they face the same challenges that we do—keeping our families safe, healthy and fed.
Together, we can support our brothers and sisters. Any gift you send would be a blessing. Your generosity reflects God’s mercy. Please make a generous gift to the people in India during their time of need at franciscanmissions.org
Thank you and may God bless you,
Br. Andrew Brophy, OFM
Executive Director of the Franciscan Missions