Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: June 03, 2020

Feeding the Multitudes Amid Lockdown in India

On March 25, 2020, India’s government placed the country in full lockdown in order to address the looming threat of COVID-19. By most accounts a necessary response, the decision nonetheless gravely affected those who were already living in adversity. Immediately, Salesian missionaries leapt into the void, providing food and other humanitarian aid to more than 1 million people with nowhere else to turn.

They are the penniless migrant workers, stranded far from home. They are the struggling day laborers with no prospects in sight. They are the isolated and impoverished elderly, cut off from essential services. And they are the children, families and refugees living in city slums all over the country.

“As is so often the case during times of crisis, our missionaries are perfectly suited to respond,” explains Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “They instinctively know who in their communities need the most help, and can get to them quickly and efficiently.”

Leveraging the immense reach of the Don Bosco Network, which comprises more than 350 Salesian-affiliated non-governmental organizations across the country, these dedicated missionaries, staff, program participants and volunteers launched meal sites and distributed food kits that have already nourished over a million people. They also manufactured 400,000 face masks for those without access to them—and have done much more. From prevention campaigns to medical camps, psychological counseling to shelter and transportation, the Don Bosco Network “has partnered brilliantly with local administrations in many places to coordinate relief work for the maximum benefit,” observes one Salesian missionary on the ground.

“Our missionaries are unbound by the kind of red tape that can often hold up official response,” says Fr. Gus. “That’s why we are willing and able to augment such efforts whenever and wherever possible.” During COVID-19 and beyond, Salesian missionaries in India remain committed to serving those most in need.

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