Many workers are unable to reach the countryside because of the lockdown. About 80% of the population lives on agriculture, and rice is the main food. The missionaries were inspired by Pope Francis' Laudato si.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Farmers need arms to harvest rice and are receiving help from 20 Holy Cross missionaries. Many farmers cannot reach the rice paddies because of the lockdown decreed by the government against coronavirus.
To address the pandemic, the authorities imposed strict social confinement measures. Agricultural activities are allowed, but public transport is suspended, and workers cannot move from their homes.
This is a problem for the country. About 80% of the population lives on agriculture, and rice is the main food. Local farmers expressed gratitude to the volunteers of the Holy Cross, mostly young people. The harvest takes place between the end of April and the first half of May: if done late, the rice risks spoiling.
In Bangladesh there are 110 brothers from Holy Cross, who generally perform pastoral work in schools. For them, life in the fields is hard, but it is lived with joy and participation. “The ground is clayey, and it was very tiring for us, but we are happy to have given our contribution. In two days we harvested 2 acres of rice, ”says Ujjal Placid Pereira, one of the missionaries involved in the harvest, to AsiaNews.
Ujjal, who works as executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission for youth and school, reveals that what the brothers have earned will be distributed to people who have lost their quarantine jobs, and have nothing to feed themselves on.
He recalls that this is Laudato Si 'week, marking Pope Francis' encyclical which relates the environmental emergency to humanity's social crisis: "The pontiff teaches that everything is connected in the world. By working in the paddy field, we can take care of nature, greenery, soil and help the needy ”.