Videos of their work have gone viral. The country has reported 160,000 cases of infection and 2,000 deaths, including a dozen Christians. Fearing contagion, very few people are willing to touch the bodies of the infected. Catholics are grateful for this service.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Groups of Muslim volunteers are burying Christians who have died from the coronavirus. This is seen as a great example of interfaith harmony, and videos of their work have gone viral in Bangladesh.
According to World Health Organisation data, almost 160,000 cases have been reported in Bangladesh with about 2,000 deaths, including a dozen Christians. Fearing contagion, very few people in the country are willing to touch the bodies of infected people, living or dead.
Muslim volunteers, who live isolated from their families, have been trained to bury those who die from the respiratory disease.
As part of the burial process, they first spray a disinfectant (a mixture of water and alcohol) onto the body of the dead, then bathe it with a solution of soap and water, and rub it with a cloth. Finally, the body is wrapped in a shroud and placed inside a special plastic bag.
Sahidul Islam, head of Al-Manahil Foundation, a charity based in Chittagong, notes that the burial of Christians is a new experience for his group.
"We received a call from the health authorities and responded immediately, regardless of the faith of the deceased. We have seen many difficult situations, even cases where children refuse to touch their father's body."
The Al-Manahil Foundation is funded by private donations and does not ask money for its work. “We carried Mary Stela Roy, a Christian woman, from the hospital to the cemetery. Her family has been very grateful to us, "Sahidul told AsiaNews.
Another volunteer organisation, Man for Man Force, deals with burials in Dhaka. Recently, it buried Rony Gomes, a Catholic from the parish of Dharenda.
Mohammad Rajib, one of the volunteers, said that the pandemic is a global challenge; for this reason, all religions should unite to fight it.
Catholics are also trying to get together to ensure a worthy burial for COVID-19 dead. Father Albert Rozario, parish priest in Dharenda, notes however that Catholics have not yet acquired the proper knowledge to bury infected bodies. Hence, he is grateful to Man for Man Force volunteers for their help.
(Video by Al-Manahil Foundation)