Sri Lanka featured in news reports recently when X-Press Pearl, a 610ft-long vessel carrying tonnes of chemicals and cosmetics, caught fire and sank to the west of Colombo. Inevitably the focus of concern was upon the environmental impact, together with the knock-on impact that this will have upon both domestic fishing and tourism – both of which are important industries. However what hasn’t been so widely reported, perhaps because of its close proximity to India with its far greater population and consequent greater problems, is the impact of Coronavirus.
Presently Sri Lanka is in the midst of a further series of lockdowns in an attempt to halt the virus spreading. Unlike the prosperous Western nations, there is no nationwide vaccine programme. Essential services are permitted to open, which means, in theory, that it is still possible to purchase food supplies. However the impact upon the families of day-wage workers is massive; if it is not possible to work, then it doesn’t really matter if the shops are open. Without an income it is not possible to pay for necessary supplies and people are increasingly going hungry.
If you have money there is food available, and the Mission has been able to devote its limited funds toward ensuring that each family in the congregation is provided for. Not every family has the same level of need, but most have required some assistance and have greatly appreciated the rice, flour and vegetables that have been distributed. Not only is it difficult for workers to support their own families, it also means that available funds at the Mission are quickly depleted with few able to support the Lord’s cause financially. Services meanwhile are broadcast electronically.
Similar to the UK where NHS workers were given additional access to supermarkets, because Parthee’s wife Dino is a nurse, it has been easier for them to move around under lockdown and gather and distribute necessary supplies in the Mission car. This of course puts an additional burden upon Parthee – but it has been a valued, vital lifeline for many of his contacts.
The Home & Foreign Missions Committee has already sent what funds were available to assist. When Parthee addressed the recent General Assembly he appealed to the Church for further financial support, to ensure that sufficient supplies are maintained. Any such gifts can be directed via Mrs Muriel Smith, the Church’s Financial Administrator.