The world over, people are presently wrestling with the unprecedented implications of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. It is a human crisis unlike any experienced earlier.
By way of providing immediate relief during the pandemic, we – The World Zoroastrian Organisation Trust and The WZO Trust Funds – have played a reasonably proactive role by supporting from our own funds, Masina Hospital (Mumbai) to create isolation facilities, as also recommended to and facilitated overseas donors to support this initiative; and supported the distribution of food packets through volunteers of ‘Pehchaan’ to migrant workers and slum dwellers of Mumbai suffering hardships.
With the lockdown scheduled to be progressively lifted mid-May onwards, the time is now on hand to plan and focus on providing relief and rehabilitation to Zoroastrians who have been adversely affected economically due to the pandemic.
Given the severity of the pandemic one can foresee that once the lockdown and travel restrictions have been lifted or eased, the focus will have to be on continuing to provide relief, as well as to organize rehabilitation of Zoroastrians who have been severely affected – in cities, towns and villages. The tasks are undoubtedly extremely daunting and will require long-term effort and commitment.
When the lockdown has been lifted and travel restrictions eased, it will be necessary to not only continue relief but also to plan rehabilitation strategies, as may be necessary, for Zoroastrians who are facing immense hardships as a result of the pandemic.
Providing relief is a temporary measure, whereas organizing rehabilitation is a distinctly and extremely long process that entails first counselling distressed minds to be optimistic, followed by assessing what would be the most practical and quickest manner of rehabilitating entire families who would have lost their jobs or means of livelihoods and / or suffered from illnesses during the troubled times and finally raising resources from donors that would be used to bring affected families back into the mainstream of society.
To successfully rehabilitate Zoroastrians affected by the pandemic, it will be essential that all hands (volunteers and donors) will need to be on deck, doing what they can do best to alleviate the suffering.
The main impacted areas of the lockdown that will need to be addressed, are:
|Arranging food grains packages for Zoroastrians in cities, towns and villages, who have suffered economic hardships.
|Financial difficulties being faced by families of white-collar workers, having received only half their regular salary, and in many cases, no salary.
|Financial difficulties being faced by families of blue-collar workers, not having received salary, as the factories/workshops have had to shut down.
|Financial difficulties being faced by individuals involved in modest Self-Employment initiatives, such as driving autorickshaws, commercial taxis, auto-mechanics, stationery shops, etc., who have been unable to go about their professions.
|Full time Mobeds, who are not employed by Agiaries, but are daily wage earners, many who presently have no income.
|Supporting agriculturists who have been unable to harvest their standing crops, that have decayed on account of non-availability of labour force.
|Dairy Farmers who have suffered financial setbacks as milk collected from livestock is unable to reach the processing dairies; difficulty in obtaining feed for their cattle.
|Poultry farming having come to a standstill, as it has not been possible to transport the fully grown fowls to processing units.
|Brick kilns are an industry having a short 7-month window (December to June); Zoroastrian beneficiaries who have established kilns in their villages have suffered severe financial setback as the migrant labourers have left for their native places leaving half-baked and unbaked bricks, causing immense hardships.
Service to our people is the need of the times. We can, at best, play a proactive role by using all the means available to us in terms of manpower and by raising resources from donors.
We request individuals and institutions from all over the world, having the means and resources, to dig deep into their pockets and donate generously to enable us to undertake rehabilitation of the many Zoroastrians who have suffered untold misery during the pandemic.