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Church cares for pandemic-hit poor in eastern India

Regardless of ethnicity or faith, the Archdiocese of Ranchi is feeding the disadvantaged

Church cares for pandemic-hit poor in eastern India

A free lunch distribution stall run by the Archdiocese of Ranchi outside the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Jharkhand's state capital Ranchi. (Photo supplied)

An archdiocese in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand has launched a free lunch service for relatives of Covid-19 patients hospitalized in the state capital’s biggest hospital.

The Archdiocese of Ranchi started the humanitarian initiative on May 4 outside the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS). More than 300 people receive a free lunch every day and the number will gradually increase in size, Auxiliary Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas of Ranchi told UCA News on May 5. 

“Our Heavenly Father has been good to us and this goodness needs to be shared with the less fortunate, especially at this difficult moment,” Archbishop Felix Toppo of Ranchi said during a  speech inaugurating the food stalls near RIMS. 

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The free lunch consists of rice, lentils, chicken and vegetables with bottles of mineral water.

While India was in lockdown last year because of the pandemic, the archdiocese took humanitarian aid, solidarity and consolation to victims without any concern for their ethnicity, religion, culture or social class, the archbishop said. 

The Ranchi prelates, together with priests, seminarians and volunteers from archdiocese youth groups, have helped over 300 needy Muslim and tribal families. 

The Church will continue this service daily as long as it can as those tending the patients neither have the time nor resources to prepare a meal for themselves

“We are living in a very difficult time and the pandemic shows no signs of ebbing. At this moment it is necessary to follow the government rules and regulations of social distancing and public safety," Bishop Mascarenhas said.

"The Church will continue to work for the poor and we are able to help the needy only because of the generous contributions of good people. The Church will continue this service daily as long as it can as those tending the patients neither have the time nor resources to prepare a meal for themselves."

He said the RIMS hospital is a government-run hospital mostly frequented by the poor. The program is being conducted with all safety precautions.

“As of now, we are doing the work through the help of local people's donations and hope many NGOs and the government will help with the funding,” Bishop Mascarenhas said.

“On May 4, the first day, we were able to feed some 300 people, but our aim is to serve at least 2,000 people per day. We will serve the people as the circumstances require — maybe 20 days or even months.” 

India reported a record 3,780 coronavirus deaths on May 4, the highest daily toll since the pandemic began. The pandemic has killed more than 222,000 people in the country.

Government data shows that over 900 deaths were from Maharashtra, while Delhi and Uttar Pradesh reported 338 and 351 respectively. At least 13 states are reporting more than 100 deaths a day.

Jharkhand has some nine million tribal people who form 26 percent of the state’s population of 33 million. At least half of the state’s 1.5 million Christians are Catholic.

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