An opportunity to support responses to the crisis from Asha and Médecins Sans Frontières
The Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal has released €10,000 (equivalent to around £8,600) in emergency funding to support two frontline agencies responding to India’s second coronavirus wave: Asha, a Christian charity working in communities in Delhi; and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Donations in support of this appeal can be made online or by post using the reference ‘CIBA India Covid Relief’ and all details about how to contribute can be found at www.bishopsappeal.ireland.anglican.org/give
Asha has committed supporters across the world and enjoys good relations with development agencies, diplomatic missions and governments. It is well-placed to bring medical treatment and to model good practice in terms of hygiene and face-coverings.
Asha’s founder, Dr Kiran Martin, who has worked in over 60 slum communities in Delhi for 25 years, has made an impassioned plea for support. The agency needs N95 masks and medical masks, nebulisers, pulse oximeters and thermal scanners, steroids and anti-coagulants, or the funds to purchase the supplies. Her team is treating people who present with Covid in their homes. Dr Kiran says: “Asha has instituted a protocol for home treatment of Covid patients with mild, moderate or severe disease. The situation with hospital beds and oxygen continues to be horrendous. We are treating severely ill patients with amazing success. I truly think it’s a miracle of God through willing and compassionate hands.”
Holywood Parish, outside Belfast, became associated with the charity almost 20 years ago and has sent a number of teams to visit two projects in the slums of Zakhira and Peera Garhi. The parish has funded building work for community centres and the creation, resourcing and staffing of IT centres. The work of Asha has also been embraced by many schools in Northern Ireland where young people have learned valuable life lessons.
Canon Gareth Harron, Holywood Parish’s Vicar, says: “When you visit an Asha centre in the slums of Delhi the values of the society – dignity, empowerment, justice etc. – are not displayed on posters on the walls; they are held in the hearts of the people who have embraced them. Asha means ‘hope’ and I had the privilege of seeing their hope-bringing work first-hand when I visited with a team from our parish in March 2020. We flew home just as the number of cases of Covid-19 began to rise in Delhi, not anticipating the crisis levels that have now been reached there. Having stood alongside the work of Asha for some years, we are grateful and encouraged that Bishops’ Appeal has pledged its support as we know this will bring relief to the poorest residents of Delhi.”
Médecins Sans Frontières has restarted its emergency response amid a surging second wave of Covid-19 in Mumbai, in Maharashtra state. The city’s population density, poverty, and poor hygiene conditions are a triple trigger for the virus to breed, infect and spread rapidly.
“This is the largest upsurge since the pandemic started,” says Dilip Bhaskaran, Covid-19 Co-ordinator for MSF in Mumbai. “MSF stands ready to further pace up its services in support of the health facilities that are currently completely overwhelmed.”
Among many other responses, MSF is supporting two units within a jumbo hospital in Mumbai. The units will include two tents with the capacity for around 1,000 intensive care beds in each.