09 Mar Pandemic Pandora Box Opens
Started in Wuhan, but startles the whole World. The exodus of migrant workers. Thousands die. Students commit suicide due to the pressure of online classes. If we are sensitive, we can see the needs all around us. We need the compassionate heart of the Lord Jesus to see the people as sheep without a shepherd. Mark 6:34.
Migrant Workers: From March 2020, the migrant workers began to lose their jobs due to the unexpected and sudden lock down. They spent all their little savings. No money, no transport. Media’s horror stories of Covid deaths. So,more than one crore of them began to walk to their native places just with whatever belongings they can carry. From South to North, from the West to East – it was a big Exodus of thousands of kilometers.
Many died due to hunger, exhaustion, and suicide. 81,385 road accidents occurred and 29,415 were killed in this exodus. But there is no mechanism to record their details. So in September 2020,when compensation is sought for the migrant workers who died, officially it was told that because there is no data about the deaths, there is no question of compensation. The lives of poor people have no value. It is terrible. Again,migrant workers were not able to find jobs in their places. Many changed their jobs and did anything they can for survival. A man who had a little piece of land had no money to till the land. He used his daughter and wife instead of bulls to wplow his land.
Essential Services: These people risk their lives even at the peak of the Pandemic. Many sanitation workers have died due to Covid. Other such people are the delivery boys, grocers, vegetable vendors, chemists, milkmen,,etc. Then,there are suppliers of gas cylinders, the staff of the electricity board, banks, post offices, police, and other offices. We are called to recognize their sacrifice, appreciate them, and pray for their protection. The housemaids are another group. Most of the women come for household work as their husbands are drunkards or the family needs are too much. They were stopped as people wanted to stay safe. Those who work from home and get their full salary are hesitant to pay these maids and so their families struggle for survival.
Daily Laborers: If we go to the Chennai Camp Road Junction in the morning, we can see hundreds of laborers waiting with their skill tools, for people to hire them for the day. It is a common scene in most of the cities Matt. 20:1-7. In India, only about 10 % of the employees are with monthly pay, pension, and other benefits (most of the readers of this article come into this category, I believe). 90% of the workers depend on some jobs every day. I have witnessed in my father’s small grocery shop in a Chennai slum, how most of the people buy everything in small measures for each day’s needs. During the lock down, most of the salaried people work online from their homes. They save the traveling time and expenses, also they can have more family time. Agencies lime Amazon supply everything at their doorstep. But the remaining lot do not have jobs and that means no money to meet the ends for their families. A parent can go hungry, but it is not possible to see your little one go without food. That leads them to desperation, family fights, stealing, and suicides.
Work from Home:– At first, work from home sounded great. One can work and at the same time have a lot of time with the family. Travel can be avoided. But if there is no proper family relationship, living together with your spouse and children all 24 hours creates tension. If both spouses work, comparison and competition affect family relationships. Children’s demands and tantrums bring explosion at homes. Due to the loss of projects, some lost their jobs. This added to the burden of the work of those who remain. When I enquired about his online job, one replied, ”The online job is hard and demanding. But I have a job, that is great!”
On-Line Classes: No Smart Phones: Most of the students have smart phone or access to it from the parents. But 27% of the students do not have smart phones. So they have to forego the classes. So there is a huge inequality among students. This leads to dejection among the students.
On-Line Classes: Pressure on Students: Attending the classes at the supervision of the parents bring a strange unease to the students. When the serial or movie is going on in the hall, they have to sit in a room and try to concentrate on the online class. Also, they have the ridicule and disturbance by the siblings. Then there is the demand for assignments and tests. All these you have to do on a small screen. So physically also you have tension. You get irritation in the eyes. All these pressures have led a few to commit suicide, including a class topper doing her 10th class.
On-Line Classes: Teachers’ Struggle: Careless behavior of many students during the class irritates the teachers but they cannot do anything. Many schools divided the class into smaller units. So the work load of the teacher increased.
Online Classes: Phone Temptations: After the online classes, the phone is a very big lure for the students. Valueless addictive effect games, serials, movies, and porn sites are easily accessible to the students.. Illicit sex and forced sex becomes common among students.
On-Line Classes: Corona Batch: Across the world, there is confusion over the exams, promotion, and grades for the students in the school final and the colleges. Because of the varied announcements, the students are perplexed. The below average and average students may like to take advantage of the Corona situation for promotion. But the hard-working students will get dejected as they are not able to show their capabilities.
New Normal: “ The country must accept the coronavirus as the new normal, and facilitate the return-to-work of the able-bodied while protecting the most vulnerable. India could see more deaths due to hunger than from the pandemic if it continues to remain in lockdown to halt the spread of Covid -19. “ NR Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys.
Relaxation: Slowly the lock down is being lifted and people are getting back to their normal life. But there is the fear of getting infected with Corona. Still, there are restrictions for educational institutions and worship places. The world is limping towards normalcy, even though no medicine nor vaccine is found for Covid.
Our Response: Prayer –
1. People to be cautious to build up immunity against the virus attack.
2. Covid patients to get the right kind of treatment at the right hospitals instead of becoming prey to some private hospitals. For the healing of the Lord on all Covid patients.
3. Families of the people who died due to Covid, Migration problems, or suicides.
4. Teachers to have the needed wisdom and grace to handle the online classes or regular classes after such a long break.
5. Students to cope up with the pressure of classes and anxieties about their future.
Our Response – Helping Hand
1. We have to identify the people who lost their jobs to find alternative jobs.
2. Giving moral support to the teachers and others who are pressurized by online jobs.
3. Getting in touch with the students living in our locality to share their pressures and guiding them. If competent, we can help them in their studies by free tuition.
4. Introducing Jesus Christ as the best friend to others so that they can get peace and grace to face all the situations.
5. Helping financially to those who got affected due to the lock down.
Communist leader Lenin said, “ The scenes which we see must motivate us into action.” Yes, “Prayer is no substitute for action.” James 2:14-16.
I close with the Words of Wisdom from Solomon from Ecclesiastics 11:1,2 –
“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a serving to seven and also to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth.”
But the verse takes a different impact through Eugene Peterson’s ‘The Message Bible’:
“Be generous: Invest in acts of charity. Charity yields high returns. Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around. Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night.”
P. Jebaraj, UESI Field Partner lives in Chennai