Aid from Canada and the Church to help a tribal village in Maharashtra
by Nirmala Carvalho

Bishop Alwyn Barreto of Sindhudurg on Friday handed out aid to the poor tribal people of Beradki, 34 families in all, mainly landless farm workers. “Two or three families live per mud house,” Bishop Barreto said. “I went into one house. It's all dark because there are no windows.”

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Bishop Alwyn Barreto of Sindhudurg last Friday brought aid to the poor tribal residents of Beradki, a village in the state of Maharashtra, through the Sindhudurg Diocesan Development Society (SDDS), the diocese’s social wing, with help from the St Joseph's Community, Foymount (Canada).

“The Berad are a forest dwelling community whose living conditions are precarious,” Bishop Alwyn Barreto told AsiaNews. “The lockdown has pushed the tribe into deeper poverty,” he explained. “They have no means of sustenance and are struggling for their very existence.”

“Through SDDS relief, we are not only trying to alleviate their poverty, but are affirming their human dignity, showing them that the Church gives hope and compassionately accompanies them in their hardship.”

“Some 34 families or 80 people call this village home, living in 20 houses,” SDDS director Fr Melwin Pais explained to AsiaNews. “There are 34 women, 22 men, 24 children, 12 of whom go to school. They are mainly landless farm labourers and daily wage workers.”

“The men are paid Rs. 300 (about US$ 4) and women Rs. 150-200 (about US-2.65) per day if they are lucky to find work in the fields. Literacy is very low: only one girl has completed her higher secondary education.”

“Two or three families live in each house,” Bishop Alwyn Barreto noted. “I went into one house. It's all dark because there are no windows.”

The Berad tribal community is living in inhuman and cruel conditions with absolutely no facilities. Their hamlet has no proper access road, no water connection nor wells.

They get drinking water from a flowing stream, which also floods their village during the monsoon season. They live in makeshift houses built of hay, bamboo and mud.

They face a constant threat from wild animals such as wild boars, bears, leopards, bisons and wild cats.