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A Portrait of Bihar in Lockdown

Hold Still, an exhibition of UK life in lockdown curated by the Duchess of Cambridge for the National Portrait Gallery, was released online this week. It captures the multitude of changes we’ve experienced during 2020 and shows that, at times, the hardships are not borne equally.

"We’re not all in the same boat, but we are in the same storm." A quote often shared during this pandemic and a reminder that while it is the same pandemic the world over every nation, every community and every household experience it differently.

India has made the headlines in recent days as the number of cases has surged. This is despite a relatively strict and early national lockdown. In a similar vein to the “Hold Still” exhibition, here are some portraits and stories of life in lockdown for families served by Duncan Hospital in Bihar, India. Your donations are supporting Duncan Hospital in their response to COVID-19.

When life doesn’t hold still

Mr Mukesh was born in a cow-shed when his mother was not taken to the hospital for delivery. He has cerebral palsy and the local school was unable to accommodate him. As he grew up, he started assisting his father in doing casual labour work.

However, during the COVID- 19 period, like all daily wage labourers, he has lost his employment. During this time the Duncan Hospital team came to his assistance and gave food aid for his household for which they are really grateful.


Mrs Salma is a 55 years old, Muslim lady who lost her husband many years back. Her son, Amir, a tailor by profession was diagnosed with schizophrenia a few years back and was enrolled in Duncan Hospital’s Mental Health Programme. His wife left him and he is now staying with his mother.

It became increasingly difficult for Salma to take care of herself and also her son and she joined the hospital’s income generation project. She now runs a small business selling glass bangles.

It was reported to us that during the Covid-19 period women from other faiths stopped buying bangles from her because of the fear of catching coronavirus through her.

In some news media, it was falsely rumoured that Muslims were responsible for spreading the virus. On hearing this the hospital staff not only counselled the community but also bought some bangles from her.

We have also supported her son to use his tailoring skills to make face masks. He stitched about 800 masks and earned 8000 INR. Today both Salma & Amir are very happy.


Mrs Mina & her son Rakesh. Mina is the principal carer for her son who was has Cerebral Palsy following a difficult delivery. Her husband, who is a daily wage labourer, lost his job during the lockdown period because of COVID- 19.

It became very difficult for her husband to sustain the family of five which included Rakesh. Thankfully, the family were brought to the attention of the Duncan Hospital care team and have been receiving food aid to tide them through this challenging time.


Mrs Uma is 70 years old and lives alone. She is a widow and her children do little to support her. At times, she works the land of rich farmers to make a living. During Covid-19 the work all but disappeared and it was difficult for her to sustain herself. It is during this time that she was introduced to the Duncan Hospital care team and as a result, she has received food support.


With the number of cases continuing to rise rapidly in India, your continued prayerful support is even more important. You can still support Duncan Hospital and our other partners in their response by donating to the emergency appeal. Thank you.


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