Millions of people in South Asia are wondering how they will provide food for their families as the COVID-19 pandemic escalates.
India has now reported more than 10,000 cases of COVID-19, and a government-imposed lockdown has kept people at home since March 25. Hoping the mandatory lockdown will continue to stem the spread of disease, India’s government hinted at plans to extend the lockdown an additional two weeks until April 30.
The lockdown has left millions of people jobless, including rickshaw and taxi drivers, daily wage labourers, food service workers, rag pickers and retail workers. Many of these workers already struggled to put food on the table, and now they, along with millions of homeless people and people who beg for a living, face a dire situation. Many do not know how to request government assistance.
Awareness Programs Educating Thousands
In the days leading up to the lockdown, GFA-supported pastors and their congregations in Delhi, India, worked to educate people about the virus. On March 20, a GFA-supported pastor and members of his congregation held a COVID-19 awareness program and distributed 1,500 pamphlets teaching people how to prevent the spread of the virus.
On March 18, a group of Sisters of Compassion and church leaders conducted a coronavirus awareness program in Madhya Pradesh, India.
“Coronavirus is a germ that causes severe illness, and its symptoms are coughing, fever and difficulties in breathing,” a GFA-supported worker told the audience. “It is spreading rapidly across the globe, and there is no vaccine ready for its cure yet. However, we can prevent the virus by following a few steps, like washing hands properly and regularly, practicing social distancing, maintaining proper hygiene and seeking a doctor’s advice if sick.”
The audience listened attentively, and at the program’s conclusion, the Sisters of Compassion gave the attendees educational handouts titled “Be Cautious, Be Healthy.”
“When we hear about [the] coronavirus, our heart sinks, but I am happy to know that it can be prevented by following simple steps,” shared a 50-year-old woman who attended. “Every one of us should take precautions, and we can together defeat this deadly disease.”
A group of Sisters of Compassion in Maharashtra, India, organized an awareness campaign to inform people about the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak and how to take preventative measures, such as frequent handwashing, social distancing and maintaining proper hygiene.
The Sisters of Compassion and their GFA-supported pastor got permission from the local government to take a small number of believers to distribute grocery kits to people in need. On April 3, they gave groceries to 30 families and handed out 50 face masks. They plan to help more families as the lockdown continues.
Local Governments Reach Out to Church for Help
A local government official asked church leaders in Uttar Pradesh, India to help as many people as they can.
On April 3, GFA-supported workers sewed face masks and prepared a meal of vegetable curry and flatbread. Then they prayed and went out to villages to distribute the food and face masks, seeking especially to help homeless people and slum residents.
“Thank you so much for helping me,” shared one recipient. “I was hungry and was not able to buy food. But I am grateful to you for giving me tasty food.”
“For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink.”
—Jesus (Matthew 25:35)
On April 6, GFA-supported workers used a school bus to distribute bags of vegetables to people in need. They hung the bags on the school bus exterior and encouraged people to come pick up the food while maintaining an appropriate social distance. This blessed 150 families with enough staple produce items to last three to four days.
GFA-supported workers in Uttar Pradesh are moving forward with plans to provide groceries to at least 5,000 people during the lockdown.
Please pray for:
- God to protect GFA-supported workers, giving them wisdom in how to help people while observing government guidelines.
- The needs of believers and each person impacted by the lockdown would be provided for.
- GFA-supported workers can minister effectively, in Christ’s name, to those in desperate situations.