A lot has been happening lately. Alan Jamieson brings us up to date with some of the goings on.

Transition of Freeset businesses to a new entity

To date, the transition agreements have been decided and finalised. Once the required entities and governance are complete (we are halfway there), transitioning of staff will begin. Rebranding is anticipated by the end of the year, when the transition should be completed and Freeset entities will be closed. Presently, India’s COVID-19 lockdowns, and worldwide loss of sales, are delaying progress.

What’s the Freeset focus in this pandemic?

The pandemic has impacted Freeset staff, increased the health risk to communities, and made it harder for the most vulnerable to feed themselves. In response, Freeset has committed to paying full wages for the duration of the lockdown, and to distributing 20,000 cotton facemasks and 20,000 free meals to the most vulnerable local communities.

Investigation from Hui

During the 2019 Baptist Hui, a motion was passed, the essence of which was, “NZBMS Mission Council urgently investigate the possibilities of helping 48 women who have been made redundant in Murshidabad due to the withdrawal of Freeset.”

Following an investigation, a report was given to Mission Council who wants to support and encourage these women. Discussions with the women showed there was interest in starting a ‘Local Cooperative’. This has begun and approximately one-quarter of the women have chosen to be involved. Freeset is financially supporting a one-year trial by continuing to pay a manager, subsidising expenses, and helping with logistics through the trial.

Dhulian fire response

Thanks for all your help as we stood together with our community in Dhulian. Together we managed to

  • provide meals when needed
  • offer a safe space to mourn and share together
  • donate emergency lighting as required
  • purchase food and clothing
  • provide emergency accommodation
  • help secure long-term accommodation and assist with required deposits
  • renew much needed personal documentation
  • replace household essential items like beds, dressers, cooking utilities and gas bottles.

One of the best things was replacing the schoolbooks, uniforms and stationery needed by students, meaning they could return to school and begin rebuilding their lives.

Thank you for your support so far—we haven’t finished yet. We have plans to run a community carnival to help return some of the joy to the community. That will have to wait until the COVID-19 crisis is over but will provide even more reason to celebrate together. Hopefully, we will also be able to celebrate in our newly repurposed building. Any remaining funds will be allocated towards this so that it can continue to serve the community for the years to come.

Finally, I want to mention some of our great people. Priya, Subhendu, Ruth and Supriya formed the frontline of our response and did a remarkable job, managing both logistical and pastoral responses with compassion and grace. As soon as we are able to resume some sort of travel again, we look forward to sending this family on a much‑needed holiday together. Thanks, team.

In different ways, we have been able to support the 150 families impacted by this fire. Now, like the rest of us, they face a new crisis in COVID-19. Please continue to remember them in prayer as we all go through this together.