You may remember Sr Nirmala and Sr Clara, two Salesian Sisters who work with vulnerable children and women in India. Last year, thanks to you, Missio was able to support the Sisters with a grant from the Pope’s COVID-19 emergency fund. Sr Nirmala recently got in touch to let us know what’s happening in Kannagi Nagar – one of the Asia’s largest urban resettlements, 25km south of Chennai.

Resettlement without resources

‘Kannagi Nagar is home to around 100,000 women, men and children who previously lived along the streets, coast and rivers of Chennai city.

They have been resettled into this small area, without adequate facilities such as schools and health centres. Women and children in particular are vulnerable to violence, trafficking and abuse. Without enough schools and access to education, many children drop out of school, which in turn has led to many social problems in the community.

Resettlement, in any form, threatens the social fabric and ultimately the equilibrium of the society. Families who live in Kannagi Nagar are relocated from 72 different urban settlements. They face serious challenges of poverty, crime, unemployment and low educational attainment. And above all, the children are losing their childhood at a very young age and are falling prey to the social issues.’

Families in need

‘We have been working to support families in Kannagi Nagar for many years. But now COVID-19 has totally changed the lives of the people in Chennai once again. They have no jobs, no income, very little to eat, and no immunity. Families who contract COVID-19 are suffering; other people are not willing to accept or help them. They can’t to go to work, and the government subsidy isn’t enough to survive on. Most depend on charity.

Kannagi Nagar families are mostly women-headed families. Most of them work as housemaids, and now all the houses where they work don’t let the servants in. There is no way they can earn money and with the long lockdown, people are unable to go out and search for jobs. Meanwhile, schools closed from March and there was no possibility of learning online, because most of the families don’t have internet access. Day by day the children are losing hope.’

Your help is the difference between life and death for families in Kannagi Nagar. Please give whatever you can to support our COVID-19 Mission Response fund>>

What we’ve done

‘With your help, and the money from Missio England and Wales last year, we were able to sustain our 405 children who were suffering so much physically and psychologically. We did our best to help, with tuition classes, counselling, extracurricular activities, meals and safety measures such as masks and sanitisers. Our counsellors offer them tele-counselling and try to save them from depression.

We will always remember you and your timely help given for our children.’

But there is so much more to do

‘Now the situation in Chennai is very bad. Every day more than 24,000 people are getting affected and hundreds of people are dying.

Last year the children seemed to be saved from the pandemic, but this time children are also getting infected. Some say this is the third wave.

And many of our children’s parents are affected. Their houses are very small (100 square feet) and they are very close to each other. Two families share one rest room.

In one family, the father, mother and four children were infected. There are lots of sad stories like this; every day we hear the news that people we know have died from the virus.’

Please give whatever you can to support our COVID-19 Mission Response fund>>

We are struggling, but we won’t give up

‘When people get infected, the government immediately shifts them to the hospital or special care centres. But then the children depend on relatives and others to look after them. So it is up to us, with your help, to provide nutritious food, vitamin and zinc tablets, milk powder and vegetables and save children from hunger and depression.

Now we too are finding it difficult to sustain them. Because of the financial crisis here, our local benefactors are not able to help us.

We need your assistance to keep these children alive and active, and also nourishment to increase their immunity to stay fit enough to fight the virus.’

Can you help?

‘You have helped us in the past and we are so grateful. But the pandemic continues and with it, the struggles our children and families face. If you can, please continue to help our kids during this pandemic period. Please remember the poor children of Kannagi Nagar.

Thanks once again for coming forward to help us.

God Bless you all.’

Please help the Sisters reach families in need. Please give whatever you can to support our COVID-19 Mission Response fund>>