by BISMumbai Correspondent

Covid-19 has impacted lives. Jobless, homeless, clueless and coping with the crisis confinement, the common people who cannot afford to stay at home otherwise, are at a complete loss. Across India, there is a surge in the number of ordinary people infected, isolated and recuperating. As per the Economic Survey 2019-20, Maharashtra has 14.90 lakh registered micro, small and medium scale industries generating employment for 78.92 lakh people., which are now in a semi-lockdown with looming uncertainty. Mumbai - Maharashtra's State capital and India's financial capital, is in total lockdown mode amidst the mass exodus of migrant daily wage labourers and others left stranded without food and other survival essentials. The sealing of district and state borders to prevent the pandemic escalation has brought about added anxiety and panic, even though remedial measures are being effectively implemented through a systematic and well-monitored civic administrative coordination.

The Salesians of Don Bosco in Mumbai, have risen to the occasion and are doing their bit in compliance with the administration's directives, to bring relief aid to the most poor and abandoned within Mumbai City limits. Mumbai Salesians in Matunga, Wadala, Andheri and Nerul are ensuring that the necessary daily basic requirements of the most poor, especially of those residing in the slum pockets of Mumbai are being addressed, in their battle for survival against the Covid-19.

The Don Bosco Development Society [DBDS], MumbaiSalesians; Planning and Development Office is spearheading an Outreach Campaign with its women Self-Help Groups [SHGs] to produce 12000 masks for free distribution to migrant workers and slum dwellers across Mumbai. It is also sourcing through corporate sponsorship from Mahanagar Gas Ltd. and procuring from D-Mart, a 16-item provision kit with food and toiletries per family, reaching out to 3000 families, to help tide over Lockdown21. MumbaiSalesians' Provincial Economer Father Manuel Murzello and DBDS Exec. Director Father Rolvin D'Mello are overseeing this outreach.

The Don Bosco Oratory based at Don Bosco Provincial House Matunga, in collaboration with DBDS, is reaching out to 100 of its registered young people with food and toiletries provision kit. These young people who participate every evening in cricket, football, hockey, dance and music coaching at the DBPH Campus come from fragile impoverished environments lacking basic amenities. The outreach - in the slum pockets of Dharavi, Sion Koliwada, Chunabhatti, GTB Nagar, Maheshwari Udyaan, Antop hill, Sewri, Mahim and Matunga Labour Camp - is being coordinated by MumbaiSalesians' Fathers Glenford Lowe, McEnroe Lopes, Bro. Bryce Rodrigues and Don Bosco Youth Services Volunteer Clifford Saldanha. Accompanied by their parent/guardian, each of these young oratory-goers with the Oratory I-Card are accessing specified drop-off points manned by Oratory Leaders, with due compliance-clearance from civic authorities.

Our Lady of Dolours Wadala [W] is reaching out to 23 of its poor parish families with Rs. 1000/- per family alongwith food packets on a daily basis, for Lockdown21 sustenance. Dominic Savio Andheri is reaching out to its evening study students' families with basic nutrition kits. Don Bosco Seawoods-Nerul is coordinating a relief aid package distribution for roadside dwellers, pavement dwellers and those on the peripheries at Karawegaon, especially for stranded migrant daily wage workers.

Prafulta - Don Bosco Psychological Services in collaboration with Project Mumbai has initiated a 'Free Counsellors on Call' facility for people across India with a team of close to 50 trained Counsellors from 8 am to 8 pm in multiple languages including Marathi, Hindi, English, Gujarati, Malayalam, Punjabi and Kannada. Perceiving that a support system of this kind is the need of the hour and since the Covid-19 has thrown up issues of anxiety, fear, and behavioural change resulting in sleeplessness, feeling lonely, low and depression, Prafulta is also committed to addressing issues faced by parents and family with special need members. Over 35 Special Educator Therapists are reaching out to parents and guardians on a daily basis. Both these online facilities are entirely free and are catering to those in emotional distress from across India.

Elsewhere, in rural Ahmednagar, the Bosco Gramin Vikas Kendra [BGVK] has made available its building for purposes of quarantine and isolation, if needed. It is now Over 32 migrant youth from Uttar Pradesh are being now sheltered there for quarantine by the Ahmednagar District Administration. Sacred Heart Parish at Yerwada-Pune is undertaking a parish-level area outreach. DBDS is also coordinating a outreach in Pimpri-Chinchwad with its support staff. In the state of Gujarat, the Salesians of Don Bosco are coordinating a DBDS-Mumbai programmed outreach to the poor and marginalised, in Vadodara and other smaller towns.

Co[WE]d Hope: Lockdown Fear, Together Forward - a daily homiletic reflection and Co[WE]d Scope: KuchCorona during Lockdown21 - managing lockdown tips, on the MumbaiSalesians Youtube Channel and across social media platforms, are providing consolation and comfort in these troubled times. The Don Bosco Youth Services [DBYS] Mumbai with scholastics from Don Bosco Youth Centre [DBYC] Koregaon Road Pune have prepared a set of AajCorona posters to assist young people keep busy and keep cheerful.

Amid the unprecedented 03-week lockdown, MumbaiSalesians are committed to journey with and accompany the most poor and abandoned, especially young people, offering them relief aid and inspiring hope in an attempt to allay concerns and fears.