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Christian activist receives “Covid-19 Warrior” recognition in south India

Cynthia Stephen, a Christian human rights activist, receives a certificate of recognition as a “Covid-19 Warrior” from Bhaskar Rao, a former Police Commissioner of Bangalore, on March 28, 2022. (Photo supplied)

A Christian human rights activist, independent journalist, and writer was one of the persons who received a certificate of recognition as a “Covid-19 Warrior” on March 28.
The Karnataka State Police organized the event on March 28, Bengaluru (earlier Bangalore), the capital of the southern Indian state.
Bhaskar Rao, a former Police Commissioner of Bangalore, gave away the certificates to more than 100 individuals and institutions that rendered humanitarian service to people affected by Covid-19 induced lockdowns in Karnataka.  
Speaking on the occasion, Rao said, “Bangalore Police thanks you for your service."  
Among the recipients, there were only five women who received the recognition, including Cynthia Stephen.
“Thanks to all the team members of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP; transl. Common Man Party) who did the social service work at the back end to enable us in the front line to serve the people during the first and second waves and lockdown in India,” Cynthia told RVA News.
According to her, everyone in the team had a hand in the work and she was accepting it as a representative of a team.
“But if you ask me I was in the front line but there were people in the back who were doing a lot of the very hard work of cooking, packing, and delivering the food. They too deserve recognition,” she added.
Her initiative to reach out to people in need included Stephen’s NGO TEDS Trust, which works with women in distress. The other is the volunteers of the community kitchen who cooked and packed and transported the food halfway.
The kitchen was by volunteers of the AAP, which contributed to the funds.
Stephen and her team provided 300 hot meals daily in three locations lasting over six weeks between 2021and 2022.
“Through my NGO, I still raise funds and distribute rations to the Covid-19 affected families,” Cynthia said.
Besides, she must have distributed over 2000 ration kits over two years, she recalled.
“Now, it is down to about 10 kits a month, but we were doing 200 kits monthly during the height,” Cynthia said.
In the kitchen, which cooked 10000 meals a day, there were at least 25 volunteers.
But the rations work was mostly with just a skeleton staff of self and husband and sometimes a volunteer, Cynthia explained.
Sharing about her team, she said, there were hardly any Christian. It was mostly Muslims in the team. They surpassed themselves in service, she said.
“I also did a cash gift donation for the workers in the crematorium and cemetery in the area, as the team members had to work without rest for months,” Cynthia added.
Only the funds for the cremation workers were from the US. All other ration relief was done with support from friends and their networks.
The funds for the cooked food came from the AAP.
According to her, some common people, friends, and some NGOs were part of the team helping.
“Of course, some Christians too were very active, especially in cooking and serving the migrants, who were leaving the city,” Cynthia said.
All helped in the ration packing and distribution to the needy. It was the best test for humanity in each.
It was great to see that about 100 people received the same certificates, including the community kitchen volunteers, some others who were working on masks and sealing buildings during the highest of Covid-19 cases.
“In addition, we have been able to help dozens of people find work as domestic workers and drivers. Ten girls were able to join or continue in college due to our held for fees and 25 school children rejoined school and are taking exams as we were able to raise support for their fees, Cynthia said.
Many hundreds of children have dropped out of school due to the inability of parents to pay fees. It is a very huge concern, she said.
“I wish more people would be inspired to do community-level work,” Cynthia said.


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.