by Father Blany Pinto for BISMumbai

As chaos reigns over the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, Don Bosco Lonavla social outreach staff, Sonali Shelke and Ravi Shelke have discovered that there are as yet unreached 'adivasi villages', without any documentation to procure food sustenance. Devoid of Ration-cards and Aadhar Cards, these villagers are the most impoverished poor, unable to access their rightful grocery-provisions or other entitlements. Determined to instruct, inform and accompany these unfortunate marginalised, Don Bosco Lonavla is initiating a collaborative network outreach with the 'gram panchayats', with the sole objective of empowering and enabling these to obtain Ration and Aadhar Cards ensuring a sustained survival.

Meanwhile, the social outreach staff together with Father Roque Green - Parish Priest St. Anthony's Shivaji Nagar, Allan Doulton and Punya Kumar from Pune, visited 04 villages, about 6 kms away from the highway, to distribute groceries, vitamin tablets and painkillers. The outreach managed to distribute the essential goods to 8 families in Audhe Katkarwadi, 12 families in Devle Katkarbasti, 20 families in Dudhir Adhivasi, and 35 families in Aapti Gevande Adivasi [accessible only by means of a small boat]. The financial aid for the procure and disbursement of the grocery items was provided by St. Anthony's Parish ShivajiNagar.

The 06 villages which were thus far being provided with food provisions by Unita Doulton and her team, have unfortunately been sealed, since a few people have tested positive for COVID-19. However, prior to this, in the week preceding, 188 families have been provided grocery kits. Yet, the problem now is to explore ways and means to provide grocery kits for sustenance, in the coming week. All the same, the social outreach staff along with Unita Doulton and her team distributed grocery kits to 30 families in Auduli Katkarwadi and 90 families in Vetal Nagar, thus reaching out to 120 families.

Yes, there are indeed problems galore with newer discoveries of yet-to-be-reached adivasi peoples, but Don Bosco Lonavla moves on sustaining hope with faith, thanks to the generosity of benefactors, the outreach staff, volunteers and sincere support of many prayers.