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India’s Ranchi Archdiocese to the rescue of cycle rickshaw pullers

Ranchi Archdiocese celebrated Trinity Sunday distributing food ration and sanitation kits to impoverished cycle rickshaw pullers have been left without a livelihood under India’s Covid-19 lockdown.

By Robin Gomes

On Trinity Sunday, the Church celebrates the mystery of the Three Divine Persons in One God - the Father, the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit – the most fundamental tenet of the Christian faith.  

Love of the Trinity

During his midday “Angelus” prayer on Trinity Sunday in the Vatican, Pope Francis stressed the dimension of love of this holy mystery.  “God the Father loves the world so much that, to save it, He gives what is most precious to Him: His only-begotten Son, who gives His life for humanity, rises again, returns to the Father and together with Him sends the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said.  “The Trinity is therefore Love, all in the service of the world, which He [God] wishes to save and recreate,” he said. 

It is in this spirit that the Catholics of Ranchi, in Jharkhand state in eastern India, lead by their Archbishop Felix Toppo, organized a charity event at the city’s Loyola Grounds.  They distributed food rations along with personal protective equipment (PPE) to more than 1000 rickshaw pullers. 

Livelihood affected

A cycle rickshaw in India is a 3-wheeled cart to ferry two passengers.  The flatbed version of the cycle rickshaw is used to transport goods.  A common form of transportation, the cycle rickshaw is a source of employment for many. 

Pope Francis was offered a ride in a cycle rickshaw in Dhaka, Bangladesh on December 1, 2017, during his visit to the country (see photo gallery). 

When the Indian government ordered a nationwide lockdown on March 24 to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of daily wage earners in India were suddenly deprived of their livelihoods, including rickshaw pullers. 

They have been allowed to ply with the government gradually easing the strict Covid-19 measures. 

Sharing God's love with poor

While handing the rickshaw pullers the kits, Archbishop Toppo explained that the Church understood their pain and suffering over the last 70 days when they could not ply their trade and feed their families. 

He said the Catholic Church was providing them food and other essentials in a spirit of sharing God’s love with them. He offered a common prayer for the safety of their families and thanked the benefactors who made it possible for the Church to help people in need.

Auxiliary Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, explained that the rations were being distributed to all the needy cycle rickshaw pullers without distinction of religion, caste or tribe. 

The bedraggled rickshaw pullers and their vehicles spoke much about the ravages that the lockdown has caused them and their families.  

Each food packet contains rice, cooking oil, lentils, grams, soya beans and condiments and spices.  Each PPE kit contains reusable masks, reusable gloves, sanitizer and soap. The aid packets also carried a small message: “May God Bless you”. 

Ranchi Catholics in the forefront during Covid-19 

The Catholic community of Ranchi Archdiocese has been in the forefront of relief work during the COVID 19 crisis, reaching out to all categories of people in difficulty.  It has been running shelters for stranded migrants for over two months. These shelters will gradually roll back its services as the migrants return to their homes. 

For nearly two weeks, the Sisters of St. Anne, the Missionaries of Charity sisters of Mother Teresa, Catholic youth volunteers of the archdiocese had been distributing dry food packets to thousands of travelling migrants.

Even in remote villages, where people are facing great hardships, priests, nuns and the lay faithful have been distributing rations to thousands of needy families.  The Catholic Church has provided PPE kits also to thousands of policemen and public utility workers. 

09 June 2020, 14:31