COMMUNICATION FROM THE CHAIRMAN, AVATAR MEHER BABA TRUST, AHMEDNAGAR

Cyrus Daily Messages

Dear Meherabad Residents and Community,

In recent days we have been hearing that there is concern and confusion amongst Baba lovers about some aspects of the covid situation here at Meherabad.

In order to clear up that confusion we will be writing a Tavern Talk to update everyone on the current situation at Meherabad, but it is important that those who live here and are directly impacted are given more detailed information, and so we are writing to you now, via Harry’s box. Please feel free to pass this on to any who may be concerned.

The Samadhi doors and Beloved Baba’s Cabin are closed by Government order due to the current lockdown. Arti and Bhajans are also stopped for the time being. When the restriction is lifted, we will open again as it was before with darshan at the Samadhi door, social distancing in the queue, and Arti in the morning and evening.

We recently arranged for all the Trust workers to be tested for Covid. The workers who tested positive are able to quarantine at home. As they recover, they are tested again before returning to work. The Trust has plans to hold a vaccination camp for the workers, but this is currently on hold as there is a shortage of the vaccine. As soon as the vaccine is available we will provide this service to those workers who have not already been vaccinated.

The local Government Health Authority has requisitioned Hostel C as a Covid Center. They have the authority to requisition any building and any number of buildings they require from registered charities such as the Trust. Due to the emergency nature of the situation, we were told on short notice that they were taking over the building, and so there was no opportunity to plan and prepare as we all would have preferred. This situation is new for all of us, but we are doing our level best to protect Baba’s lovers, residents and Meherabad.

The Covid Center at Hostel C has 120 beds. At its peak it has held 112 patients and currently there are about 70. All the patients must be under 55, have no comorbidities (such a heart condition or diabetes) and show less than 5% lung damage on a CT scan. These patients are staying here because they live with others who are not Covid positive, in a home where it is not possible to safely quarantine. The only treatment given is Paracetamol, Erythromycin and Vitamin C. Diclofenac is given if needed. The Government Doctors are closely monitoring the patients and if they determine the patient requires further treatment they send them to the appropriate medical facility.

A local medical officer recently informed us that Meherabad is #1 for the number of patients discharged healthy from covid facilities. Clearly the loving atmosphere of our Beloved Baba is helping these patients recover quickly.

One issue with the Covid Center that we had not anticipated concerns the garbage. We have heard that some are concerned that BioHazard waste is being buried at Meherabad. This is absolutely not the case.

The Covid Center generates a small amount of what is considered BioHazard or medical waste. Because the only medicine given is pills, this waste is mostly pill wrappings, the gloves worn by the staff, and masks. This medical waste is kept separately, packaged, and sent to the Health Center. The Health Center already has a system in place for disposing of medical waste at a biohazard waste disposal facility in Ahmednagar. All Biohazard waste from the Hostel C Covid Center is disposed of in this way.

The majority of the remaining garbage is food waste. The government has contracted a caterer to provide food for the patients. Baba, as you know, was very strict about not wasting food, so at Hostel D and C there is usually very little food waste from pilgrims to be disposed of. In this situation however the caterer provides a set amount of food for each patient, in individual plastic bags. At first it was too much food and the patients were not eating it. A package is also provided even if the patient’s food is being brought by his or her family. We are working with the Medical team at the facility on how to reduce this wastage. They have already reduced the amount of food given to a more reasonable amount, and are now discussing ways to only provide food packages for those who want them in order to reduce the amount of waste. We continue to work on this aspect of the problem.

The Trust regularly sends its trash to the municipal trash dump. However, because the Covid Center trash is mixed with food we were not allowed to send it to the Municipal Dump, making disposing of this trash a big problem. Plans were made to separate the plastic from the food, but implementing this has been delayed due to the lockdown and the safety precautions required to handle waste from a Covid Center. The food waste was going to be temporarily buried in pits, and covered over to protect it from dogs and stop it being spread all over. This has been done before, and when it’s possible to properly dispose of the trash, the trash is then carefully dug back up using a JCB, transferred to a tractor and taken to the dump. The hole is then filled in, and no plastic or waste remains. But this has been stopped for now, as we have managed to make special arrangements to send the trash to the Dump.

We have also heard that people are concerned that patients may leave the Isolation area around the Covid Center, posing danger to the residents and workers nearby. We wish to reassure everyone that making sure the residents and workers at Meherabad are safe is a priority for the Trust and also the local medical authority. The entire purpose of this facility is to stop these patients from spreading the virus.

To this end there are police officers assigned to Hostel C, with 3 or 4 assistants. These officers and assistants are there to monitor the area and make sure everyone is safe. The assistants are actually teachers from government schools who have been assigned this duty by the government. As the assistants and sometimes the police are in plain clothes they may appear to be patients, and we understand that seeing people come out from the center may cause concern to some, but please be assured the patients are carefully watched and are not allowed to leave the isolation area. If you are concerned please call the trustees or the Chairman.

We ask that all remember these staff and patients are guests at Meherabad and treat them with due respect and courtesy. This is an unforeseen and unavoidable situation and it is our duty to render whatever little help we can provide.

Every 10 to 15 days the government has a temporary covid testing center set up at the Farm (near the Memorial Tower) to provide testing to people in this area. The test is free and over 1 or 2 days they can test approximately 100 people a day.

As previously announced, residents who may have been exposed to Covid (such as those who have travelled outside on trains and buses), and who live in shared accommodation on the Trust Estate are being asked to quarantine to protect their fellow residents. The Isolation Ward at lower Meherabad was built for such a purpose and has been set up so that residents may quarantine there safely and comfortably. All those in quarantine will be tested for Covid on arrival and as per medical guidelines thereafter. Anyone housed in the Isolation Ward who tests positive for covid will be moved out for treatment.

May these trying times help us all remember Him in our thoughts, words, and deeds, and remain surrendered to His Will.

In Beloved Baba’s Love and Service,

Shridhar.