Fr. Joseph Gomes, OMI Reports on Covid-19 Efforts in Bangladesh
May 6th, 2020
Inspired by the spirit, knowing the outreach geographical location of the villages, illiteracy and the ignorance of our people, I felt the desire to do something immediately. With me were the Indigenous Leaders, Rt. Rev. Bejoy N. D’Cruze, OMI, Oblate Fathers and few other organizations. Therefore, we called for an urgent meeting with some of the local leaders at IPDS office in Kulaura, Moulvibazar on the 8th of March 2020.
The Strategic Plan that we have undertaken as safety nets and protective measures:
1. During the spread of COVID-19 we decided to be present with our peoples; to deepen their spiritual and moral strength, to give them proper orientation about Coronavirus Covid-19, to continue the sacramental and pastoral care with proper precaution and protection, to mentally prepare the leaders to face the worst case scenario; to distribute sanitary materials and to look for possible food assistance for the poor from different sources.
2. We thought of printing safety net measure leaflets according to the directions of the World Health Organization (WHO) both in Bangla and Khasi languages and distribute them to each village as quickly as possible. It was decided that Mr. Ross Pohtam would do the Khasi translation and the office of the Indigenous Peoples Development Services (IPDS) would prepare the Bangla version. Accordingly, it was done; printed and distributed into the villages.
3. The above mentioned persons had formed small teams and carried out Awareness Campaign in twenty- two (22) villages namely: Lokhipur village, Bongaon village, Marina Tea Estate, Gazipur Tea Estate, Meghatila punji, New Rangi punji, Balarma punji, Amoli punji, Purancholta punji, Jhimai punji, Singur punji, Islachora punji, Amchori punji, Balukoona punji, Puthicherra punji, Nooncherra punji, Ichachora punji, Panai punji, Kukijuri punji, Lutijuri punji, Muroicherra punji and Ewlachora punji. And I was present in most of the villages during this campaign.
- The following areas were covered during the campaign:
- Distribution of leaflets: read out and explained to the people present.
- Proper orientation was given on what is Covid- 19 and some Precautionary Measures:
- Importance of the washing of hands for 20/30 seconds before entering into the house.
- Avoid coughing and sneezing in front of others.
- Importance of maintaining social distancing in order to avoid infection.
- Keeping a separate room available to isolate a person found with positive case.
- Quarantine for fourteen days for anyone coming into the village from a distant place.
- Restricting movements as much as possible to avoid community transmission.
- Importance of cleanliness: inside the house and around the village.
- Money handling: always wash hands thoroughly after every money transaction.
- Restricting vendors and business people coming into the villages during the lockdown.
- Collaborative initiatives/ measures undertaken:
It was providential to meet with some of the generous institutions to organize collaborative initiatives to help out our peoples affected and victimized by Covid-19 in four districts under the jurisdiction of The Sylhet Catholic Diocese. Among them The Sylhet Catholic Diocese, the Oblate Delegation in Bangladesh, the Caritas Bangladesh, KUBORAJ Inter-Punjee Development Association, the Government Agencies, Indigenous Peoples Development Services and the Missionaries of Charity Sisters are worth mentioning.