The COVID-19 pandemic has brought enormous change into our lives and the lives of the individuals we work with. Pressing needs are narrated to us in our daily calls to them and are shared openly by those who are coming to Shalom for treatment – savings have been used up, many have lost their daily income… and this coupled with their illness has caused deep fear and anxiety in their lives.
It has been a time for us as staff to listen to them, provide a sense of belonging to Shalom, and bring the comfort and the hope of Christ to hurting people. At the end of May and first week of June we responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing food hampers, hygiene kits and some financial assistance to the neediest.
One story from one of our families:
20-year-old Sneha* and her 14-year old brother, Sunil* come from an impoverished home, both are a part of our adolescent program and have proved themselves to be very sincere and responsible in everything entrusted to them. Poverty is such a part of their lives. Their parents, Manohar* and Geeta*, are a hardworking couple. 43-year-old Manohar works at a shoe factory and his wife is a daily wage earner. Both he and his wife were diagnosed with HIV and have been on regular Antiretroviral therapy for 6 years, along with dealing with various side effects associated with ART. These health issues have affected Manohar’s consistency at work. Geeta also has to stay back at home to take care of her husband when he is sick. They have been with Shalom for 4 years now. Free medical facilities, monthly rations, and educational support for Sneha and Sunil are some of the ways Shalom has supported them.
During the lockdown, the shoe factory shut down, ending their little means of income. Necessities such as food became a scarcity. They had to depend entirely on the people who were donating food kits at this time of crisis. Their days went by waiting outside government schools to get food. The small pension that they received monthly from the government as part of nutrition schemes for HIV patients got delayed. Paying rent became impossible.
It was at this time when our home-based care team began emergency relief work. Manohar’s name was one among many which made its way to the list of families for food hamper distribution. They were also given some financial help along with a dry food kit and hygiene kit. Someone once said, “A handful of dough…a heart full of hope”. It was the food we provided for their bodies, but hope radiated from their eyes.
Shalom would like to extend its gratitude to all the funders for supporting Shalom, without which this would not have been possible.
(Written by Merina – Staff at Shalom)