Further food aid distributions

Sadly the coronavirus continues to spread In India, with more than 1 million cases now recorded. Unfortunately it is the communities already suffering from poverty and disadvantage that are most vulnerable in the present crisis.

The fundraising by supporters to our appeals for emergency food and medical supplies in response to the COVID-19 lockdown and Cyclone Amphan was remarkable. As a result, thousands of people received basic assistance in a time of great need.

Most recently supplies were distributed at two non-formal schools located at Bhowanipur Cemetery and Scott Lane that are run by the Cathedral Social Service, a sister organization of CRS. 150 families received food packages and medicated soap.

The help given to poor communities in Kolkata and surrounding rural areas has been facilitated by CRS working in close collaboration with the Diocese of Kolkata.

The Church has been able to utilize its wide network of parishes, projects and people to reach so many needy communities. We’re also very grateful for the commitment and leadership from Bishop Paritosh, who has personally joined in many of the distribution events.

Renovation at Pally Mangal underway

Last autumn we issued a fundraising appeal to extend the CRS centre at Pally Mangal. The tiny one-roomed building was a real squeeze for women attending empowerment and training classes.

CRS supporters Paul Stuttle and Jo Whitehead generously gave £2,400, which with recoverable gift aid, was enough to cover all the costs to build an extra floor.

Renovation commenced in March but had to stop when the coronavirus lockdown started. However, as of June, work resumed and good progress has been made on building a staircase and an upper floor.

New book about Kolkata-Derby partnership

Two of the Trustees of the UK Friends of CRS, Alison Brown and Anita Matthews, have written a book about the experiences of setting up partnerships between schools in the UK and India.

They have been actively involved in building the links between the Diocese of Derbyshire and the Church of North India over recent years, including the group visits by headteachers, teachers, classroom assistants and trainee teachers each year which have paired primary schools in Derbyshire with CRS education centres.

Sustaining Global School Links, which is available from Grove Books for just £3.95, explores some of the theological and educational reasons for setting up and maintaining global links between schools. Reflecting on the partnership between Derby and Kolkata, it seeks to give an honest appraisal of benefits and challenges that are involved.

 

Assessment of cyclone damage

The flood waters have receded, and water and electricity supplies have largely been restored, but the damage wrought by Cyclone Amphan will take a long time to repair. With the help of partner organisations, CRS has been able to make an assessment of the damage to communities and buildings.

In Hastings and Brace Bridge, many of the families that CRS support live in makeshift shelters, and these were very severely damaged by the cyclone, leaving women and children in very vulnerable circumstances.

Example of a house with a thatch roof that has collapsed Significant damage was also sustained to houses in the slum communities at B D Colony and Bibibagan, where many families live in single-room houses with roofs made of tin.

In rural areas, where many houses have roofs made of thatch, the high winds and torrential rain caused much damage (example on right of a collapsed straw roof). The communities that CRS supports in Mahamaya and several villages in Jharkhand have reported numerous families impacted.

Overall, an estimated 1,150 families supported by CRS have been rendered partially or fully homeless. In the short term, CRS will be distributing tarpaulins and basic cooking utensils to all these families. In the longer term, these communities will need support to rebuild their homes and livelihoods.

Trees uprooted and signs blown down at CRS office In terms of the community buildings that CRS uses in different locations, there was damage to the roof at B D Colony, Dum Dum, Bibibagan, G B Lane, Mahamaya, and Jharkhali.

Due to fallen trees and debris there was damage to the access paths and areas around the centres at Sukantanagar, Bibibagan, Dum Dum, G B Lane, and Mahamaya. Trees were also uprooted and signs blown down at the main CRS office in the campus of St Paul’s Cathedral (photo left).

The generous donations from supporters across the world to the coronavirus appeal are now being used to provide further relief for communities suffering the double blow from the lockdown and the impacts of the cyclone. If you are able to give more, all the funds will be used to help families in great need.

Relief for remote Sunderbans village

The low-lying Sunderbans delta is always vulnerable to extreme weather, and the recent Cyclone Amphan certainly left its mark. Large areas were flooded, and settlements and cropland were destroyed.

Through the local partner organisation, Arpan Mahila Samity, CRS was able to provide emergency supplies to the remote area of Jharkhali on 07 June. The food packages will help families suffering the double blow of the coronavirus lockdown and the impacts of the cyclone.

Meanwhile the school building is being used as a quarantine centre for people with, or suspected of having, coronavirus.