Cutting across political differences, ruling and opposition parties have appreciated Church leaders’ decision to use their premises as COVID Care Centres
Amidst a spurt in Covid 19 cases and corresponding dearth in proper health facilities for quarantining the corona-afflicted persons, the church leaders in Mizoram have come forward with a unique proposal.
Two local Presbyterian churches in this Christian majority state have offered their halls to the state government to be used as COVID-19 Care Centres (CCC).
Ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) legislator and state health and family welfare board vice chairman Dr ZR Thiamsanga said that two Presbyterian churches in Aizawl and Electric Veng branch of the Young Mizo Association (YMA) have opened up their premises in response to the appeal of the state government.
Other church’es, there are reports, might very soon follow suit as Mizos are traditionally a close-knit community people and love their community.
“The church leaders, community leaders and the people are open-hearted. They set a good example by helping the government,” Thiamsanga said.
The minister, who is also the chairman of the medical operational team on COVID-19, inspected the halls, along with other officials last week, before they were thrown open as quarantine centres.
According to Mr Tetea, Hony Secretary of Mizoram Football Association and one of the church leaders, Mizoram always displays a unique brand of unity during hours of crisis.
“And this unity is evident through a combined work of the state government, NGOs and churches. Even common men, villagers, you may notice, are donating money, vegetables etc.”
Besides donating money to the churches, even those who aren’t rich, bare farm growers have been coming up with their produce at some points in the state capital and the neighbourhood to help those living in the containment zone
At least 14 COVID-19 patients are currently undergoing treatment at Venghnuai church hall.
Mizoram has only one dedicated COVID-19 hospital‑Zoram Medical College (ZMC)‑where symptomatic cases and those with co-morbidities are being treated.
COVID-19 Care Centres(CCC) offer care to asymptomatic patients, the minister said.
In fact, there has been no formal instruction from the state government to the churches in Mizoram to make their halls and premises available.
“It’s just a kind of appeal and the churches have decided to act spontaneously. Because we love to help people and we want to see people happy,” says Pastor Emanuel over phone from Aizawl.
His views are echoed by Pastor Lianhmingthanga: “It’s time to fight COVID with all our might and Mizos have so far displayed a rare humanity to live up to the aspirations of the society.”
Besides donating money to the churches, even those who aren’t rich, bare farm growers have been coming up with their produce at some points in the state capital and the neighbourhood to help those living in the containment zone.
LR Sailo, the retired director of information & public relations, was overwhelmed with joy and pride when he saw basketful of farm produces were being donated by couple of farmer at a containment zone in Aizawl.
Interestingly, political acrimony did not get the better of the dying need of the hour.
“Not that the opposition party has been supportive of every action of the state government. But the pandemic has erased the differences as students and other volunteers of MNF(Mizo National Front) have joined hands to fight the menace,” says Mr Tetea.
There is another reason too for the church leaders to come forward.
An appeal has been made by the Mizoram Kohhran Hruaitute Committee (MKHC) to the churches to offer their halls as CCCs to assist the state government which has been facing a shortage of facilities for treating COVID-19 patients.
MKHC is a conglomerate of 15 major churches in the state.
“The government will face a big problem if the number of COVID-19 patients increases,” the minister said.
The government has so far set up six CCCs to treat 300 security personnel and identified at least 33 buildings which may be converted into dedicated CCCs for keeping 1,500 patients.
“The government requires CCCs to accommodate at least 2,500 more patients,” a health department official said.
Photo credit – Mr L R Sailo
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The author has served no less than Al Jazeera and German TV, and India’s Parliamentarian magazine among others! To his credit goes a deep-rooted empathy for social issues and humans. He has wide experience in covering the northeast of India. His coverage on the 2020 Amphan cyclone in eastern India has easily been the best around the world