Category: covid in India


Just as they did during the lockdown a year ago, Blue Cross has been giving thousands of meals every day to the street dogs in Chennai, in the south of India.

During normal times, many street dogs hang out around tea shops and restaurants where customers give them handouts. During the lockdown these businesses have all been closed, and the dogs have been left with no source of food, so the feeding by the Blue Cross volunteers has saved their lives.

Chefs to the rescue

This has been a huge undertaking. Blue Cross has coordinated cooking the food – dog food in India is cooked and is a healthy mixture of rice and other nutritional ingredients and supplements. They have worked with chefs in restaurants and hotels who have volunteered to cook the food. When the restaurants were closed, the chefs came in every day especially to do this, while Blue Cross provided the ingredients. This has been a very large expense for them – around $600 every day, and this is in addition to feeding the one thousand or so animals who they care for, at any given time, at their main shelter.

Blue Cross has organized many dozens of volunteers to distribute the food to the dogs; some of these kind people also feed the dogs during normal times, but now it’s risen to a whole new level. They also bring along food for cows and other animals out on the street. Last year Blue Cross was able to arrange an understanding with the police for the dog feeders to be out on the street during the lockdown, and this has continued this year. In some cases the police themselves have helped with the feeding.

A native breed

Most of the street dogs in India are a native breed of “All-India” dogs that arose naturally and was not “bred.” They are of medium height, with short fur and ears pointing up. For thousands of years they have existed in Indian cities. They tend to be shy, quiet, and very adept at crossing the street while avoiding traffic. They are quite used to being out on the street. The five thousand or so humane shelters in India do not and have never rounded up the street dogs to kill them in shelters. It would not have occurred to them to do so. They simply help those animals who are injured or in distress.

In 1964, Blue Cross of India began the first, continuously running, spay/neuter program in the entire world. This program has been going ever since and has never stopped; it paused only briefly during the two lockdowns for the pandemic. It is efficient and effective and is known as the ABC program because, as Blue Cross’s co-founder and chairman emeritus, Dr Chinny Krishna, says, “It is as simple as ABC.”

A long history of helping street dogs

The ABC program has always included rabies vaccinations, which have brought rabies under control throughout the city of Chennai (and eliminated it entirely during several years), saving the lives of both animals and people.

The ongoing, dedicated work of Blue Cross caring for the street dogs of Chennai has had a powerful influence on the care of dogs and other animals in cities all over India – although India has traditionally, true to their culture and philosophy – been a land which values kindness towards all animals. The ABC program maintains a steady, stable population of the dogs, who are calm and well habituated to their neighborhoods, where they can live peacefully for many years.

In addition, Blue Cross runs a very active ambulance rescue service for animals in distress, helping many thousands of dogs and other animals each year. Dogs found on the street who have formerly been pets are taken to the Blue Cross shelter and placed in the adoption program to find loving homes.

Please help Blue Cross, if you can. They have undertaken the monumental task of feeding the street dogs during this time when they have had no regular source of food. A little goes a long way. Bless you and thank you.

Photos: Velu, Blue Cross of India

Vaccination site in Bangalore, India
Photo 215572010 / Covid In © Jaidev Narayan | Dreamstime.com

Locating oxygen canisters and hospital beds

During the pandemic, many of the people at the CPRA Foundation, in Chennai, India, instead of doing their usual office work, have been spending long hours on the phone helping those who are ill – by locating oxygen canisters for those having trouble breathing who are staying at home and by locating available hospital beds for those who need to be hospitalized. This hasn’t been easy to do since oxygen canisters have been very hard to find anywhere due to the huge demand – and the hospitals are full to capacity. With a lot of perseverance, however, they have been able to help and have saved lives in this way.


A migrant worker with his daughter walking along a highway.
Photo 188572407 / Covid © Manoej Paateel | Dreamstime.com

Helping migrant workers

The CPRA Foundation has helped wherever they can in other ways too. When migrant workers from Bihar in the north of India who had been doing construction work were stranded during the lockdown, they were allowed to stay on the property. The Swanag Constructions Private Limited Company continues to pay them a part of their salary although they are no longer working. Every day the CPRA Foundation gives them free meals of rice and lentils, which is the staple diet in Tamil Nadu. Being able to stay in Chennai in a safe place has been an enormous help to them since Bihar is hundreds of miles away, and they really have had no way to get home while the lockdown lasts. Last year, in many Indian cities, migrant workers, like the man in the image above with his daughter, had a lot of difficulty during the lockdown. The CPRA Foundation wanted to make sure that this did not happen to any of these workers. They are all young men who will either continue working in Chennai or will go back to their villages in Bihar after the lockdown ends.

Mrs. Niraja, school psychologist
Photo: Sharon St Joan

Saraswathi Kendra students

The Saraswathi Kendra Learning Center, the school for children with learning disabilities run by the CPRA Foundation, has set up special programs to help the children and their parents during the pandemic. Learning remotely and the stress of having to stay at home all day has brought unique challenges for these children.

The school psychologist, Mrs. Niraja, has stayed In touch with both the parents and the children throughout the lockdown and has put into effect home interventions to help in each specific situation.

One child learned to garden and found that relating to plants gave her a great sense of calm and a feeling of security.

A nine year old girl, following her conversations with Niraja, was able to develop a pattern of having set times for play and times for study. She grew to love reading and spends some time every day reading a book. She’s also begun to ask her parents to tell her stories. Her temper tantrums, which had been a problem, have vanished, and her mother wrote that she now asks for whatever she needs clearly and politely.

Positive transformations have taken place in the lives of dozens of these children, helping both them and their parents – thanks to the efforts and ingenuity of Niraja, who, instead of lowering her expectations for the children during the difficult days of covid, has only redoubled her efforts to help each child. Amazing changes have been the result.

The Saraswathi Kendra Learning Center has always had a policy of relating to each child as an individual, with his or her own unique talents and abilities. In this way, the children are able to pursue whatever they are good at and to find a path in life that will bring them success.
Many of the students go on to university, and many have highly successful careers, especially in classical dance or as sports stars. Above all, they can find happiness, knowing that they are cared for and appreciated for exactly who they are.