PIO ESTEVES talks to Anthony Fernandes of Street Providence and learns that his organisation has been doing yeoman service in various spheres including providing care, shelter, food, clothing and even blood donation
‘Street Providence’ is a volunteer-based set-up working with volunteers based at Sangolda in Bardez taluka. It has a 24-hour food bank, clothes bank, employment bank for the poor and needy across Goa.
‘Street Providence,’ approved by the State government through Collector (both north and south Goa and Goa police), picks and cleans up people lying on the streets across Goa. It picks up street people up from Mapusa (at times Panjim) every Saturday and provides them a bath, shave, dress wounds, clean their nails, give them a warm meal and a new set of clothes and slippers.
“The blood bank helps people who need blood, besides setting up a virtual blood bank with 100 donors right across Goa,” said Donald Fernandes of the Street Providence.
“We are starting a medicine bank (backed up with doctors and two medical dispensary one in north Goa and one in south Goa), across Goa for the poor and needy,” he added.
We are starting technical classes for the poor and needy free of cost like computer hardware (to repair computers and laptops), carpentry, electrical, air conditioning and tailoring, he pointed out, adding that the they were planning to assist in providing free education to poor children across Goa for 2018-19.
Elaborating on the services provided to the poor and needy, Fernandes said, “In the food bank we have been collecting food in various places across Goa and have been serving food to the poor and hungry and needy. We collect food daily from various bakeries and hotels in Goa.” “Also people put food in the fridge which is situated on the Chogm Road at night,” he said, “we also connect a lot of food from wedding halls and private parties for old age homes and convents late night and as such food is not wasted.”
“In the 24 hours food bank for the poor we currently serve around 1000 people food each day. And we serve every day, including Sundays,” Fernandes said.
“On the streets of Mapusa in the afternoon, on the streets of Panjim every night, at Guirim church every evening 7pm till 7.30 pm we offer birthday cakes free of cost to families whenever there is a function in our parish at Guirim.”
Fernandes said they offered extra food to 15 to 20 old age and orphanage homes across Bardez and every day three meals of men picked up from the streets are provided. “We have approximately as of date we had 80 men under our care,” he informed.
Fernandes revealed that each month they collect and save approximately food worth Rs 20 lakh, which would have been surely thrown out and said this food was served to those in need.
With regards to the clothes bank, Fernandes said they collect and accept clothes at six different points in Goa, Porvorim, Calangute, Mapusa, Sanvordem, Caranzalem and Margao.
“These clothes are then sorted out at New Creation Home, Calangute, and the men’s clothes are used for the men we pick from the street and the women clothes are distributed by our volunteers on streets as well as we send to convents. Also a lot of people take clothes from us and redistribute them in places we don’t cover and in homes of the poor.”
In the employment bank, Fernandes said they offer jobs and employ people who are looking for a job as well as the street people who they pick from the street. “We do this employment through Facebook posts as we as through WhatsApp,” he said.
At Street Providence they explain to the street people why they should quit alcohol and tobacco, besides providing a shoulder to lean on and start life again. “Lately we have been cleaning people living in garbage dumps and on the road in pathetic condition on the spot if water is available,” he said, “we are the last stop for those actually dying on the streets of Goa.”
Fernandes explained that they have been supported by the State government in Street Providence and a letter is marked to both collectors (north and south), DGP and Director of Social Welfare to support them as and when the need arises.
With regards to the blood bank, Fernandes said, they offer blood card (on one month returnable basis) as well as arrange for blood through our posts on Facebook and WhatsApp messages and match the donor with the patient directly.”
“Lately we have created eight virtual blood groups on WhatsApp and we link the donors with the patients,” he added.
Since the medicine bill has been increasing, Fernandes said that they decided to start a medicine bank and they had a meeting with the F&DA director a few weeks back and he suggested they start this bank through a dispensary. “We have been offered two houses for this project in north Goa and south Goa and we are in the process of tying up with doctors for consultation,” he revealed
“We wish that each and every child in Goa gets education and so we are starting an education bank for the year 2018-19,” Fernandes said. “Here we will request wherever the child is that school to admit the child if the child can’t go to school because of finance. We are planning to admit up to 500 kids in entire Goa in schools and if admission is denied due to finances, then we will arrange the finances from the people of Goa.”
Fernandes said that plans are underway in expanding their services in all parishes of Goa, through Caritas in order to take various projects forward.