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India: Front-line workers receive psychological support

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Salesian missionaries provide psychological support to front-line workers dealing with COVID-19 pandemic

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries across India are working to provide support in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic rise in the country. The number of people who are testing positive continues to rise and hospitals are having difficulty keeping up. Many are faced with shortages of staff, oxygen and other medical supplies.

In Kolkata, psychological assistance is being provided for medical staff, including doctors and front-line health workers who are working in physically and psychologically demanding conditions. There have been cases of suicide by doctors who are overwhelmed by the enormity of the need and scarcity of supplies available to assist their patients. Currently, 100 volunteers have come together to facilitate this initiative. The volunteers speak 17 different languages, ensuring they are helping people across the country.

In New Delhi, BOSCO Delhi is distributing dry food rations, which will benefit more than 10,000 families by the end of May. Salesians are also providing direct financial support to 200 migrants. The money can be used for basic necessities, including the cost of rent. BOSCO Delhi is also helping the most vulnerable families, especially those headed by single or elderly women.

Support to help India is coming in from all over the world. BOSCO Delhi received 450,000 masks from the South Korean Embassy to be distributed for free to people in need. Funding is also being provided to poor families to pay for funeral expenses of relatives who died due to COVID-19. There has also been an online counseling program set up with a team of experienced psychologists and counselors. So far, 303 people have received emotional and psychological support.

In Hyderabad, the Department for Women’s Development and Child Welfare opened seven transit homes for children whose parents are currently in quarantine or hospitalized due to COVID-19. The homes will provide free accommodation, food, recreational activities and psycho-social support to the children. They will all be equipped with a caretaker, a doctor, an educator and a cook. Each house is able to accommodate at least 20 children, up to 14 years old.

“Salesians in India, with support of Salesian organizations around the globe, are working to help those in need with the rise of the COVID-19 virus,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesians have a long history of working in communities across India and are well-positioned to see the direct needs of the people they serve. They are able to customize initiatives to best fit the communities they are in and ensure aid is reaching the right people.”

India has the world’s fourth largest economy but more than 22 percent of the country lives in poverty. About 31 percent of the world’s multidimensionally poor children live in India, according to a report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. A multidimensionally poor child is one who lacks at least one-third of 10 indicators, grouped into three dimensions of poverty: health, education and standard of living.

Salesian programs across India are primarily focused on education. Salesian primary and secondary education in the country helps youth prepare for later technical, vocational or university study. Other programs help to support poor youth and their families by meeting the basic needs of shelter, proper nutrition and medical care.