“You give them something to eat.” Fr. Barnabe D’Souza, Rector, Don Bosco, Nerul, is doing just that during the current lockdown due to COVID-19.
By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | May 12, 2020
“You give them something to eat.” Although this was a direct command Jesus gave his disciples, he knew what he was about to do. The multiplication of loaves in the Gospel of Mark 6:35-38 is a classic example of trust in a crisis… or rather, peace in the midst of chaos!
By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”
The people who were following Jesus were hungry, and far away from home. No fast food joints around, Jesus is now testing the faith of his disciples. After all, he has a short ministry span on this earth and he has to pack in as much faith into His disciples as he can. The disciples find a boy with five loaves of bread and two fish.
Jesus blesses the bread, breaks it and gives it to his disciples to distribute… in the end they have 12 baskets full of broken pieces of bread and fish!
Fr. Barnabe D’Souza (SDB) has always been one with the street and its grime and the gems that come out of them. During the current lockdown due to COVID-19, his first reaction as Rector of Don Bosco, Nerul, Navi Mumbai, was to reach out to his immediate staff, workers and then to those less fortunate around Nerul.
You give them something to eat…
Initially, I started with our own staff, carpenters, and construction workers from nearby, slowly moving out to larger crowds. I still remember the day I was running out of food. It was March 31. Senior PI of our Police Station, Tanvir Shaikh was sitting with me and we were discussing how to distribute food in the evening that day. As soon as he left, he called me from down saying, “Father, I think we better distribute the food now. There’s a huge crowd.” It was 12.30 pm and we had 1500 food packets packed with grains, and essentials.
As we began, we realised the line had grown to around 4000 and the police (by then Shaikh had called in more force to help him) were announcing that everyone would get a packet. We saw that we were on our last few packets and feared the worst. I whispered a small prayer: “What is going to happen?” I asked the Lord.
As we were nearing the end of our supplies, a Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) van was passing by. They saw the huge crowd and asked us what it was all about. I explained to them about the shortage of food. “Don’t worry they said,” and opened their van full of supplies and continued with the food distribution!
Crisis averted, faith met with faithfulness…
Although there were no baskets of leftovers, there was not a hungry person who stretched out his hand whose need was not met. There have been times when I have been on my last Rs 1 lakh and have wondered what would happen the next day. My daily budget to feed the poor is around Rs 60,000 and one day when I was at the end of my funding, I sat before the Blessed Sacrament (wondering what would happen the next day) and prayed: ‘I don’t know what is going to happen, you know better. You handle this’.
The next morning I got a call from a friend from Quantas. I explained to him my need. He said, ‘Don’t worry; I will speak with a few people. That very day three people donated Rs 1 lakh each and from that day onwards, I have stopped worrying about funding because the Lord is taking care.
The reaching out continues…
Till date, we have reached out to more than 6000 families and we are now, along with my team from the Oratory Saira and Savita, moving to Belapur and Vashi also. Assumption, another Social Work Director, started connecting me with more needy people from other areas. We personally go to those places to double-check and ensure that there is a real need.
Initially, it was tough to manage the crowds, but we soon developed the coupon system where we have tied up with a kirana store to provide food grains and essentials of the upper range. They go there and pick up their packets which last them for a week. Depending on the need of the families, we have conceptualised four packets:
Big Packet: 5 kgs rice, 5 kgs wheat flour, 3 kgs dal and 1 kg oil
Small Packet: 3 kgs rice, 1 kg dal and spices, soaps
Medium Packet: 5kgs rice, 2 kgs dal, tea powder, spices
Super Packet: 5kgs rice, 5kgs wheat flour, 3kgs dal,1kg oil, 1kg sugar, tea powder, spices
As the donors come in, the updates continue…
Regular updates are being to those who have donated and to our teachers, parents and the school community, who help me in spreading the message. We have parents and teachers donating too.
There are three things I do every morning:
- Celebrating the Holy Mass where I pray for the current situation and for all the people suffering from the virus, the migrant workers and those who are hungry and for my staff and volunteers that they are safe form the virus
- Ensuring I have my 30 minutes of brisk walking before or after I get into the field.
- Praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament for half an hour and tell the Lord: ‘I’m talking care of the field you take care of the bank and people’s hearts.
Help from our local police, and NMMC…
Inspector Shaikh and his team have been very helpful. I don’t know what I would have done without them. Even the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation has reached out to help. It has been a collaborative effort, joining hands with the NMMC, CIDCO and the Police; we have supported each other mutually in bringing relief to their camps for feeding or getting us necessary permissions. Our reach has gone beyond just our zone to larger areas, numbers and the entire Navi Mumbai city due to the tie-up with these governing bodies.
They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
“How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”
You too can donate… For donation related queries, contact: Mr. Antony T. K. Mobile: +91 9324637388. email: email@example.com
ACCOUNT DETAILS FOR INDIAN DONORS
DON BOSCO SCHOOL SOCIETY
Plot No. 8, Sector 42A, Seawoods, Nerul, Navi Mumbai—400 706
(80G Receipt will be issued)
Bank Name: HDFC BANK
Account No: 50100254044486
IFSC Code: HDFC0001028
Branch Name: SEAWOODS
Bank Address: Giriraj Co-Op. Hsg. Society, Shop No.10/11/12, Sector 44, Seawoods (W) Navi Mumbai—400 706
Your Details: 1. Donor’s Name | Address | Contact No. |4. Pan Card No.
Note: You can donate via NEFT, RTGS, Net Banking- apps, Google pay, Paytm, etc.
ACCOUNT DETAILS FOR FOREIGN DONORS ONLY
Please specify purpose: Don Bosco Nerul Food Aid Programme, Fr.Barnabe
Currency of Account: INDIAN RUPEES (INR)
Name of Bank: SYNDICATE BANK
Bank Address: Gurudev Mansion, Matunga Estate, K A S. Road, MATUNGA—400 019 MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRA, INDIA.
SWIFT Code: SYNBINBB124
IFSC Number (India): SYNB 0005005
FCRA Number (India): 083780914
Bank Account Number: 50052010055700
Holder of the bank account and address: Don Bosco Development Society, Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga, Mumbai—400 019. INDIA
Address of holder of the bank account: Don Bosco Development Society, Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga, Mumbai—400 019. INDIA
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