It is a work of mercy and with a spirit of compassion that the Archdiocese of Bangalore, in the state of Karnataka, in southern India, launched the “Here I am” program, an initiative to support families for the funeral of their loved ones. Hundreds of people are succumbing to Covid-19 and many families are suffering. In response to this situation, the Archdiocese of Bangalore designed and implemented the “Here I am” program which “aims to guarantee a fundamental human right, that of having a decent death and burial”, notes to Agenzia Fides Fr. Santhosh Royan, Program Director. Thanks to a team of volunteers, it provides means of transport, coffins and funeral services to poor families and all those who ask for help. The pandemic is putting a strain on people – physically, emotionally and spiritually.
People are desperate and losing hope as their family members continue to die, and there is a shortage of hospital beds, oxygen and medical care.
“There is great fear and a great need for comfort and support in this period”, says Fr. Royan. The initiative aims to contribute to the celebration of the last rites for the deceased, regardless of their religion, their status and other social categories. The Archdiocese of Banglore covers all the necessary expenses thanks to the support of certain donors, explains Father Rajesh R., deputy director of the “Here I am” initiative. The team takes care of at least 15 to 30 burials or cremations per day and has so far accompanied 1900 burials. At each funeral, program volunteers continue the work of consoling families, ensuring that a dignified farewell is given to loved ones, a sense of solidarity and the certainty of human and spiritual closeness, showing and saying to families “We are with you”.
“All the families affected have expressed immense thanks to the team for their service during these difficult times”, says Fr. Rajesh. New Covid infections have increased further in recent days. The total number of COVID-19 cases in the country is now over 29 million, while the total number of deaths is over 356,000, according to data from the health ministry. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 10/6/2021)