By Emily Drooby
There were over 114,000 new COVID-19 infections in India on Sunday, June 6. That might sound like a high number, but it’s actually the lowest the country has seen in months. It’s still a sliver of hope as the country continues to fight the second wave.
“The second wave was worse than the first,” explained Father Felix Raj. “In the second, many people have died. Every day you hear people dying. Every day you hear people going to the hospitals.”
Father Raj is the Vice-Chancellor of St. Xavier’s Catholic University in Kolkata, India.
He watched the disease devastate his country: a shortage of vaccines, a shortage of hospital beds, with pain and fear taking over. So, his school took action.
“We couldn’t sit idle and watch what was happening outside,” Father Raj said. “We were moved. We were touched by the sufferings of our people, especially our neighborhood. So we said it is time for us, as a university community, to respond to this call.”
He set up care centers, equipped with doctors, nurses, beds and oxygen to take overflow patients.
Using a university building and help from a local hospital and the government, they started with 40 crucial beds. Together, they took on the risk and the cost because of their faith.
“This is an inspiration from God himself, because he gave us the courage to respond to this call,” Father Raj said. “And not only the center in this university, but to start centers outside the university, outside the city.”
The result will mean opening three more of these care centers in Catholic buildings in rural areas. That’s an additional 130 beds, bringing the total up to 170.
They teamed up with the Diocese of Asansol to find the spaces, which were all located in Catholic buildings.
Father Raj says he hopes cases will continue to decline and vows to keep the centers open while they’re needed.
He’s not asking for donations, but he needs something equally as important.
“We require your prayers,” said Father Raj. “If you pray for us, that’s more than enough.”