The monogram of the famed St Joseph’s School and St Joseph’s College in Darjeeling carries the motto ‘Sursum Corda,’ meaning ‘Lift up your hearts,’ and the same holds true in trying times like these. The Jesuits, who run the institutions, have volunteered to offer a part of their sprawling premises to the district administration to be used as an isolation centre for Covid patients.

According to the Jesuit priests here, they have offered space in the Campion Hall in the college to set up a 50-bed isolation ward. “We are seeing a rise in Covid cases in the Hills, especially in the tea gardens and villages. With no space for isolation in such areas, and with hospitals overflowing, we thought of doing this. We have already sent a proposal to the district administration in this regard, for them to check its feasibility,” St Joseph’s School Rector, Fr Stanley Varghese, said.

The initiative has been named ‘Sursum Corda Covid 19 Care and Relief’ with the alumni of the two institutions also being part of it, along with some NGOs. Fr Varghese further said that if Campion Hall does not fulfill the criteria for an isolation ward, then they have also offered the hall of the Sacred Heart Church at Singamari in the town as a second option.

“The school is already 140 years old, with the college about to complete 100 years soon, and we thought that it was our responsibility, that with such a big institution in Darjeeling, it was time we gave back to the people, especially during times of hardship,” he said. If accepted as an isolation ward, the facility will be free of cost, with wards there for male and female, and food and water also provided by the institutions.

Fr Varghese also said that Darjeeling Diocese’s Bishop Stephen Lepcha has written to different parishes to contribute a volunteer each for the facility in the institution, along with them also targeting to rope in nurses and medical students.

“We are also trying to provide things like oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators, for which we will write to the people concerned, in case an emergency rises. We will only admit Covid patients who need isolation and some treatment, as we will not be able to cater to serious patients, who have to be admitted in a proper hospital,” Fr Varghese said.

For other requirements like pulse oximeters, PPE kits, N95 masks and sanitizers, they have appealed for funds from every sector possible, along with any kind of help that can be had.