Report by: Fr. Dr. John Rose, S.J., Director, Xavier Institute of Engineering
Towards the very end of March we were awaked in the middle of the night by a huge commotion just outside the campus walls. Someone who was infected by the coronavirus was refusing to leave his house to be quarantined in a hospital. He had to be forcibly dragged out by the medicos and police and taken away, and almost immediately the whole of Fishermen’s Colony, located at the edge of Dharavi, the Asia’s biggest slum, at whose southern corner we are situated, was under strict lock down and was declared as red zone overnight. At the same time a nationwide lockdown was also announced. That meant that about 26 immigrant workers, mainly from Bihar, UP, and Orissa, were without shelter and unable to go back to their homes. In collaboration with the local police, we had them accommodated inside our campus and given food and ration. They cannot get out of the premises and, like us, take precautions with salt water gargles and steam inhalation. They do it religiously every morning and also before going to bed. They not only not cause any trouble but they also help to keep the surrounding clean or do any work requested of them inside the campus. The city Collector’s office recently sent us a plea on behalf of poor widows and helpless immigrants, and an immediate response was to send to it 50 parcels, each containing 5 kilos each of rice, dal, oil, and atta. We could only do what comes naturally to any Mumbayite.