COVID19 – RELIEF WORK
COVID 19 Relief operations by St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous) Kolkata
COVID-19 Relief work was organized by St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous) Kolkata from the main as well as the rural campus. The College Principal Rev. Dr. Dominic Savio, SJ, organized the relief operations within the city as well as in the villages. At the Park Street Campus, Fr. Principal along with the Vice Principals distributed relief materials on 10th & 12th April to about 500 families consisting of rickshaw pullers, families from the nearby slums and to the families of the evening and night school children. About 300 PPE kits were distributed to the doctors and health workers of a charity hospital with support from the College Alumni Association.
In our adopted villages, COVID-19 Relief operation work was organized through the rural campus at Raghabpur. In all, 1920 families, spreading across ten villages, including the UBA villages, were sponsored by the College. The distributions began from 27th March 2020. On 7th April, UBA Coordinator, Prof. Cheryl Francis along with UBA Cell member (invitee) Mr. Bobby Biswas, visited two adopted villages – Debipur and Shalpukur and distributed relief materials to about 100 families. The 6 days long relief work was carried out by about 40 volunteers from the villages around the rural campus for packing and distributing relief materials. The Nepalgunj Police Force helped the initiatives and supported with all the necessary logistics.
A core team consisting of Rev. Dr. Dominic Savio, SJ, College Principal, Rev. Fr. Johnson Padiyara, S.J., Vice Principal of Raghabpur campus, Prof. Cheryl Francis, UBA Coordinator, Mr. Sanjib Koner, the Secretary of Alumni Association, Mr. Dilip Mondol, Local MLA, Mr. Bobby Biswas, UBA Cell member (invitee), Mr. Bholanath Sardar, Panchayat Pradhan, Panakua GP, and Mrs. Rita Naskar, Panchayat Pradhan, Kulerdari GP were responsible to plan and implement the relief operations maintaining social distancing protocol.
COVID 19 LOCKDOWN: The NSS online Out Reach facility!!!
The whole world is under Lockdown trying to slowdown the COVID 19 pandemic spread, and the government and other social sectors, NGOs, Educational Institutions are attending to the fallout on a war footing. Known as the COVID warriors, doctors, nurses, medical staff, people supplying essential goods and commodities, our municipal workers, and some volunteers are battling it out and we salute all of them. The race for a vaccine is on and we hope for the best to happen soon.
We, the NSS family of St. Xavier’s College Kolkata, decided to reach out to one another. Since the young are affected in a big way with lot of uncertainties about their future, we felt that we should also do our small bit to strengthen them. During normal circumstances, this NSS group is engaged in social activities spread across five to six villages per week, apart from coordinating in house activities and programmes throughout the year. This NSS group consists of students belonging to various social and economic structures. We have students from the very rich communities to the rural students whose families depend on daily wages. In fact some of these students were prospective bread winners for their families post their graduation. We understood their plight.
So we began our outreach with the NSS Board members and the NSS active volunteers, a small core group of about 28 who form the inner circle, from both the NSS Units. We first formed a WhatsApp group on 4th April and soon we realised that students were being very formal and not opening up much. Then we decided that we would call them up individually and then see how it works. It worked! We started on 13th April and we are continuing the same.
Some students shared how their families were in doldrums with no income, leaving them with no means to buy their groceries or basic necessities. Some students whose family members were closely working in the frontlines were worried about the safety of their entire family. All the students expressed their fears about their examinations and not having enough books to refer for preparing notes. Some of the outgoing third year students were anxious about their future studies, admissions and job scenario. The students did share that their faculty members circulated notes etc. but few also expressed that they did not have online facilities at home and they shared their phone facilities with other members of their family too. We were told that some students, who had business related to essential commodities, were helping their parents to run their shops as they didn’t have their workers. All of them were helping their mothers at home in the kitchen and taking care of general cleanliness.
Most of the students were pleasantly surprised to receive calls from us. It made them feel good and connected and also strengthened. Now they themselves call us and share about their feelings with us. In this way we have been able to connect with our small group and we hope to keep this going. In the process we have also updated the birthday list of all these 28 people on board and we have decided to celebrate them together over phone.
Apart from this, the NSS department has been coordinating with the Rural Campus for distribution of essential provisions to our adopted and nearby villages. We have also connected with the village contact persons through whom we coordinate all our rural outreach programmes. We have connected with some of our partner NGOs with whom we work and send our students for service.
The Department of Social Work & NSS started working from home since 13th April from 10.00 a.m. to 12. noon formally from Monday to Friday. The day begins with Staff meeting on conference for an hour where we share about our experiences not forgetting to keep confidentiality and then we assign our tasks. However, we are available to our students throughout the day. We have also taken our support staff on board and they become part of our meetings once a week. Alongside, we have been working on the department reports.
We all have our roles to play in times of crisis. No matter how big or small it is, it makes a difference and that’s what matters. We are trying to make a difference to as many persons as possible. We are trying to burn one candle in one room which can provide some light to the entire room. We hope that this too will pass and that we continue sharing our light with others. Of course post COVID 19, lots of candles will be required. So let’s prepare ourselves.
We are planning out strategies on how to keep this Outreach alive and how to involve and train the NSS volunteers who could be actively involved post Covid 19.
This initiative was planned and implemented under the leadership of Ms. Cheryl Francis, Director of Social Work & NSS PO, UNIT I, along with Ms. Sucheta Mukherjee, NSS Coordinator and Ms. Shrawani Jha, NSS PO of Unit II.
Relief distribution Centre: St. Xavier ‘s College (Autonomous) Kolkata, Raghabpur Campus
Raghabpur, P O. Nepalgung, South 24 Parganas District, 700103, West Bengal, India.
In the context of COVID-19 pandemic St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous) Kolkata, in its efforts reached out to 2500 families of daily and migrant laborers, Rickshaw pullers and the poor sections of the society with essential food provisions for each family in the surrounding area of St. Xavier’s College Raghabpur Campus. On 27th March under the initiatives of Fr. Dominic Savio SJ, Principal, St. Xavier’s College Kolkata, in collaboration with Alumni Association of St. Xavier’s College distributed relief materials to 60 families in Paikala Village under Panauka Gram Panchayat, South 24 Pargana District.
As per the instruction of Fr. Dominic SavioSJ, another 2500 needy families were covered in COVID-19 relief distribution under six Gram Panchayats namely: Panuka,Kulerdari, Keoradanga, Amgachhia, Bonhoogly and Bishnupur. Two thousand five hundred Poor and most needy families spread over in thirty-four villages under these six Gram Panchayats were selected as beneficiaries of relief distribution. Adequate Inputs and guidance were taken to select and identify the neediest as beneficiaries of relief.
2500 relief beneficiary families were identified by the Professors of St. Xavier’s College Raghabpur Campus, Department of Social Work St. Xavier’s College Kolkata, Teachers of St. Paul’s High School Raghabpur, Panchayt Pradhan of Panuka Gram Panchayt, Panchayat members of Panuka Gram Panchayat and Panchayat Samity members of Bishnupur Block — I, and by other ten village representatives in different villages near St. Xavier’s College Kolkata, Raghabpur Campus. Selection of 2500 needy families were done in a broad perspective involving the local governance and government representatives and Bishnupur Police Force and other local institutions, in order to include all the sections of society and most importantly to care for the most marginalized in our area.
The major part of the relief distribution was done at the premises of St. Xavier’s College Raghabpur Campus, and for the rest relief materials were reached to the village which had been identified for relief distribution.
Relief work at Raghabpur Campus was carried out by 36 village volunteers from Raghabpur area near St. Xavier’s College Raghabapur Campus. The six days long (13/04/20 to 18/04/2020) relief distribution went off well peacefully with the help of many committed villages volunteers who gave their selfless service for this mission. The Panchayat Pradhan of Panuka Panchayat and many Panchayat members and the Nepalgunje Police Force also helped in our initiatives and supported us with all the logistics.
JOHNSON PADIYARA SJ