Salesians in Chennai: "People are helping, the government is slow"
Inter-religious solidarity and prayers in churches for tsunami victims.
Chennai (AsiaNews) Aid delivered by the government is "slow" while local non-governmental organisations are turning out to be "more active" in assisting survivors of the tsunami, says Indian Salesian, Fr Clave Hurley. Fr Hurley is based in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, the state of the Union hardest hit by the quake (there are 6,000 confirmed deaths so far).
"There is a massive movement among local people who are bringing relief to the injured and homeless. Aid coming from abroad is administered by the government, while we are receiving and managing what is donated by local people," says Fr Hurley. "People are bringing medicine, food, clothes, blankets, which are then distributed to the needy." One of the most urgent needs is the "presence of doctors". Items distributed to the displaced, continued the Indian priest, include text books for the time when schools reopen next week.
Salesians have been present in Chennai formerly called Madras for more than 60 years. After the disaster wrought by the tsunami, they opened their St.Bede home to take in displaced and homeless people: "We welcome everyone without distinction based on religion, whoever is in need is welcomed". Lay people and religious are doing their utmost to alleviate the suffering of survivors. "In church" said Fr Hurley, "people pray for victims and survivors; meanwhile, close by at the bell tower, aid is distributed to the needy."
Salesians are also present in the southern Andaman Islands, the region which suffered the worst destruction in this disaster. There, there are three Indian religious: "Our brothers are alive," confirmed Fr Hurley. "They are seeking to reach out to people suffering as a result of the quake, visiting families and taking help.
Tamil Nadu has 62 million inhabitants; of these, 88,1% are Hindus, Muslims account for 5,6% and there are 3,700,000 Christians in the state, which adds up to 6,1%. (LF)