A city-based church on Sunday distributed groceries to over 150 families in a pocket of South 24-Parganas who are struggling to make ends meet because of the Covid-19 curbs.
The distribution camp was organised at Bakrahat in Bishnupur block, around 28km from the heart of Calcutta. One hundred and sixty-five people got a kit that included cereals, pulses, edible oil, potatoes, onions and soaps.
The drive was organised by the Calcutta St Thomas Orthodox Cathedral, a church of around 80 families who trace their roots to Kerala. Besides a charitable dispensary, the organisation runs a chapel and a school in Thakurpukur, a 10-minute drive from Bakrahat.
“Most of the recipients have lost their income because of the pandemic. There were many senior citizens in the queue as well,” said Ajit Kuruvilla, one of the organisers.
One of the beneficiaries was Prasanta Sardar, who rolls bidis for a local wholesaler. He used to go to work “at least 25 days” a month in April. The production was halted in May. It has since resumed but the production has halved.
His wife used to work at four homes in Behala as domestic help. Two of the households terminated her services.
“The ration we got today will last a fortnight. But beyond that, it is the same uncertainty that has haunted us since the start of the pandemic,” said Sardar.
Noor Nehar Bewa, 70, was another recipient. Her son ferried people on a van. But the fresh curbs imposed since May led to a significant drop in the number of people stepping out for work. As a result, his income has dropped substantially.
Sunday’s drive started at 2pm and lasted for a little less than two hours.
Father Anil Varghese, the priest at St Thomas Orthodox Cathedral Church in Smith Lane in Taltala, was at Bakrahat on Sunday, distributing kits.
“This pandemic has affected so many people. So many of us have lost our loved ones. People have lost their jobs and source of livelihood. We are a small community of Orthodox Christians from Kerala and have been doing various charitable activities. There was a feeling amongst us that in our own small way at least, we should do something to ameliorate the sufferings of the poor,” he said.