Headlines across the world scream of the unfolding humanitarian disaster that is occurring in India. Deaths have just passed 200,000 with over 350,000 new infections identified daily. Tragically, the numbers are greatly underquoted, with those who are not tested included in these horrific statistics. The health system is collapsing, crematoriums are at capacity. Fear and panic pervade households and communities. These are the big numbers, faceless numbers, but statistics have faces.

DFN Update: COVID-19 Crisis in India

Our team are on the ground, in the villages and slums, demonstrating God’s heart of compassion in the midst of pain, suffering and despair. Staff provide health care augmented by tele-health capability to ‘the least of these’, social workers tackle domestic violence and alcoholism, and help the illiterate access aid, and our Community Village Leaders continue their fight against human trafficking and the heinous Jogini practice.

Bishop PV, who is recovering from COVID himself, told us that he is arranging the funeral for a young church member who has left a young wife and 3 year old daughter, and also caring for a 25 year old parishioner whose parents (both on our team), also died from COVID. He said, “Quite a few of God’s people have died here in Lucknow, the situation is grim. But we carry on with the hope that is within us and try our best to care of the team we are entrusted with.”

Joseph D’Souza who spoke at CityLife in October last year, today said, “We are swamped and exhausted by this nightmare. We are dreading what May will bring. There is no Indian who is not affected by this epidemic one way or another as it wreaks havoc on their friends, fellow workers, relatives and loved ones. Our beloved friend *L who was fit and healthy and has two young children died yesterday and we are in shock. Many of our co-workers across the various ministries are infected, including Hajamma and her daughter.” (Hajamma is one of our key Jogini leaders)

But in the midst there is hope.

*Lakshmi (57) is a widow who lives in a tiny two-room hut in slum with her son *Balu and his family. Balu has been unemployed for many months due to the pandemic and earns daily wages when he possibly can.Lakshmi recently fell sick with fever. Balu took his mother to a nearby hospital which cost most of his money. Despite treatment, the fever persisted. Her health deteriorated and she developed a cough. To add to his anxiety, his 5 year old son and wife also fell ill.

Knowing that COVID cases were increasing, Balu was deeply concerned, however he had no money left for tests, so took his family to the free government hospital two hours away where the family waited in a queue the entire day. Sadly they were too far down the list to be tested. Discouraged, they returned home.

The following day *Alina, one of our health workers arrived at their hut. Both of Balu’s sons attend the Good Shepherd school and Alina was checking up on the school community. She quickly saw their desperation and arranged an appointment at the Good Shepherd clinic that same day including all the necessary referrals.

Balu was immensely grateful and immediately took them to the clinic where they were kindly treated and received free COVID-19 tests. Three of the family tested positive including the small boy, and fear and panic gripped them all. The health staff counselled them about the disease and were encouraging. They lent the family a pulse oximeter and thermometer to monitor themselves, and instructions from the doctor via telehealth monitoring.

Over the course of 10 days Lakshmi received daily follow ups and medication. The rest of the family recovered quickly, and Lakshmi is slowly improving. The family is so grateful for the care and intervention they received. “We felt helpless and had lost all hope,” Balu said. “And then Alina came and gave us help and hope – giving more than we could afford, caring, treating us with dignity, and even lending us what was needed. Thank You!”

The crisis in India is catastrophic.

We cry out to God for mercy, that many will turn to Him during these dark days filled with fear and grief.

We are thankful for the prayers and support of CityLife, and thankful for the emphasis on missions, especially as we head towards World Impact Week.We are thankful to be in a congregation who have a desire to ‘impact communities, cities and nations’. Including India.

Posted in May 2021

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