04/23/2020, 14.22
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St Catherine of Siena School helping people without food

by Nirmala Carvalho

Every afternoon, volunteers (ex-students) distribute 300 lunch packets to migrants and destitute people on the streets of Bandra, at the railway station and at a bus stand. “The orphanage is for destitute and orphaned children, so our children learn to share with others.”

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The lockdown in India has caused unspeakable suffering to migrants in the cities who lost jobs, earnings, livelihood and home. However, the humanitarian crisis has inspired many good Samaritans to help those affected by the crisis.

In Bandra, near Mumbai, amid this terrible situation, a Destitute Home is serving people in extreme need. The St Catherine of Siena school and orphanage for poor children, located in Bandra West, hands out 300 lunch packets every day to the poor, migrants, destitute and people with mental issues.

“Every afternoon, our volunteers (ex-students) distribute 300 lunch packets to migrants and the destitute on the streets of Bandra, at the railway station and at a bus stand,” said school director Brother Joseph, speaking to AsiaNews. A “nutritious lunch is cooked by St Catherine’s kitchen.”

“From 24 April we will serve breakfast at St Catherine’s gate (pictured), 50 packets of Poha (a popular breakfast snack in Maharashtra).” And “One set of lunch packets is also distributed in the slums to the elderly.”

“Migrants come from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar as well as the interior of Maharashtra, [. . .] day labourers who have become homeless and jobless due to the lockdown.” In Bandra, the railway station and the school gate “are some of the places where we distribute lunch packets. "

“People with mental or physical disabilities also find themselves in a difficult situation. Because of their appearance, they are shunned, get nothing to eat, nor water. Hence, in addition to food, we provide migrants and the destitute with water as well.”

Most migrants “are day labourers who shop daily with the money earned each day. They sit at labour junctions (nakka) or in streets waiting to be hired by contractors, for any job, eight or ten hours a day, as plumbers, painters, carpenters and semi-skilled bricklayers.”

“The lockdown has also seriously affected women day workers. And when women are affected, children also starve.”

Asked by AsiaNews why his organisation helps the poor, when they already have to look after their 120 poor children at the home, Brother Joseph said: "Our name is Welfare Society for Destitute children. For us, the poor who are rejected get help regardless of their situation.

“The orphanage is for destitute and orphaned children, so our children learn to share with others. Our founder, Father Anthony Elenjimittam, called the poor and orphaned children 'Angels in rags’ because they too are children of God. We also have a small Ignatian prayer that begins with ‘give without counting the cost’. Ultimately, Saint Catherine of Siena, our Patroness, served among the poor.”

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