Chennai (India) The Communities of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the Province of St. Thomas the Apostle of Chennai (INM) urgently felt the need to network to reach the poor in difficulty due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Provincial, Sister Lazar Maria Nirmala, sent a letter asking the FMA to begin to help as an Educating Community, together with teachers, volunteers, staff, Past pupils, and workers to reach the people affected by the lockdown. The communities responded with creativity and generosity, first of all with daily Eucharistic adoration. All the employees of the FMA Houses receive a regular salary and are put in a position to live a dignified life with their families.
Provincial Headquarters, Kodambakkam
On 1 May 2020, the Provincial, the coordinator for Development Projects, Sister Kanikairaj Shermila, and her collaborators, went to the most isolated villages such as Vallalarar Nagar, Ramachandrapuram, and Soorapoondi in Gummidipoodi Taluk in the province of Thiruvallur, on the outskirts of Chennai, where migrants from the neighboring state, the families of the Irullar ethnic group, and the people who moved from the city of Chennai are without adequate homes and basic structures. There they distributed 200 food packages. Locals asked the sisters to offer them job opportunities and professional training for women, which could allow them to live a dignified life.
Mary Immaculate Community, Tirupattur
The Animator Sister Ambrose Arokia Jayaceli, together with some FMA and lay collaborators, tracked down the poor students of the School and reached the families of 100 students, distributing food packages and an economic contribution, ensuring proximity. With the help of the volunteers, the families were reached in Idhya Nagar, Tirupattur and received material aid. On Good Friday, snacks were brought to 200 police officers and the FMA spent time listening to them, assuring them of prayers. With the help of the police officers, they were able to reach four villages and provide them with food and masks, and raise awareness of the social distance to be maintained. With the help of a past pupil, they provided food for the elderly in various places around Tirupattur.
Nandambakkam – Marialaya, Chennai
Our Lady of the Road community of Nandambakkam supplied food parcels to 2,500 people belonging to 500 families displaced from the slums of Tamil Nadu in Kannagi Nagar. The Animator, Sister Mudiappaswamy Nirmala, and the coordinator Sister Shaiya, in collaboration with the parish priest of Thoraipakkam, distributed devices and protective masks, disinfectants, and medicines to the inhabitants of the slums, construction workers, migrants, ecological operators, and other workers.
St. Joseph Community, Arni
Sister Lutusus Ugini Fatima and the FMA of the Arni community contacted all the poor Catholic families of their parish and neighboring parishes, distributing rice and vegetables to 500 families in Arni; 50 bags of rice at the Parish of Mosavadi; 25 sacks in the parishes of Kasthambadi and Gangapuram, and 100 sacks of rice in the parish of Cheyyar. The FMA supplied 32 bags of rice to the families of lepers and 30 bags for families of nomads; 10 kg of rice to 110 families of school-age children, 30 teacher families, and 25 kg of rice for 45 worker families. With the help of the women, the volunteer groups have sewn over 4,000 masks. The community supported the police officers who work around the clock to maintain order with 120 food packages, soft drinks, 12 tons of rice and dhal, and other protective equipment. The FMA regularly help 450 families in 2 Sri Lankan refugee camps in Velapadi and R.M.C, near Arni, providing rice, supplies, and masks, thanks to the generosity of the benefactors.
Mary Help of Christians Community of Vellore
The FMA Community, together with the Animator Sister Antonyraj Christina, and the volunteers of the Educating Community, took action to reach 1,000 families in their neighborhood. Help was brought in three stages. On April 21, 2020, rice and vegetables were brought to 150 families in the Kaspa area with the youth of the parish. On 22 April 2020, 500 bags with rice and vegetables were prepared with the help of teachers, parents, and members of VIDES, distributed by the FMA to the people of Karugapudur, a small village near Pallikonda. On May 5, the community distributed rice and vegetables to 300 families of the students.
Auxilium College of Vellore – Katpadi
Since March 28, 2020, almost every day, the FMA of the Community of Auxilium College, with the Animator Sister Kunnathu Anna, have helped several groups of people distributing packs of food and bottles of juice to hundreds of people on the sides of the road, buttermilk and herbal drinks for police officers, supplies for 100 elderly people in the Shenbakkam retirement home near Vellore, 400 food parcels to working women, people in the village of Kazhinjur, Malai Valleys in Katpadi Road, Tiruvalluvar Nagar, VG Rao Nagar, Karigiri, and Rountana, providing 200 bags of rice and dhal to the population of the Sri Lankan refugee camp, Abdhullapuram Vellore, serving breakfast for a group of people (75) and providing services (rice and dhal) and distributing services to 30 people. Some FMA met and distributed 5 kilos of rice and dhal to refugees from Sri Lanka, to people from the village of Jogi, to Kaginallur, TK Puram, and to the Irrullar tribe surrounding Vellore.
Auxilum Home – Katpadi
The Auxilium Home Community led by the Animator, Sister Mariadoss Amala, got in touch with the populations of Kangeyanallur, Gandhi Nagar, T.K. Puram, Virudampet, Kilithanpattarai, Senur, Kalinjur, Vanjur, providing them with the “Provision Kit” which contains rice, oil, dhal, vegetables, and all the necessary devices. The community also supplied five bags of rice, supplies, vegetables, and firewood to the Mother Teresa home for the elderly in Shembakkam, which takes care of hundreds of people every day.
Mary Help of Christians Community – Polur
Sister Irudayam Nirmal Rose and Mary Help of Christians Community of Polur reached the poor in nearby villages. On April 6, 2020, 75 bags of rice, wheat, oil, dhal, and ingredients were packaged by the community and distributed in 3 provinces – Padiayampattu, Kalur and Kappalur – in collaboration with the Salesian of Don Bosco, Fr. Victor. On April 7, the same distribution was made to the nomadic families of Kondam and Allinagar, about 32 families. From 11 to 13 April, around 100 people from the parish and neighboring villages received the same help. On April 15 help was provided to 22 families of the Irullar ethnic group living in an isolated place. On April 30, 158 families from the Sri Lankan refugee camp in Thenpallipattu received rice, wheat, oil, rava, dhal, and ingredients.
Community of Sri lanka
The seven communities of Sri Lanka reached out to those affected according to their possibilities, with the help of benefactors. Sister Irudayanathan Agatha and the Sisters of Urimpirai helped 15 families in their neighborhood providing them with rice and dhal. Sister Paul M. Mary and the Community of Vavuniya distributed food packages to 100 families, including families of war orphans.