A nationwide lockdown was declared in India in March 2020 due to an increase in the infection rate of coronavirus. Lockdown was extended three times keeping in view the safety of citizens. For most of us, lockdown meant quality time with family and a time to nurture our hidden talents.
However, we seldom thought about the condition of less privileged people. While we enjoyed delicious homemade dishes at home, there were people out there in the society who had starved themselves for days. While we were safe in our homes, thousands of homeless people were homeless because the lockdown had rendered them jobless. While we were in our air-conditioned homes, there were thousands of migrants walking back to their villages in the scorching sun.
The vulnerable sections of society were affected the most due to the lockdown. Daily wage workers, street vendors, and contract labourers lost their income means and were on the verge of dying due to starvation. While the country was waging war against coronavirus, these people were fighting against many other challenges.
Millions of individuals worldwide have been impacted by the coronavirus epidemic, which has claimed many lives. The response should also provide a well-coordinated strategy that enlists the participation of community mobilizers from faith-based groups from humanitarian groups for community engagement strategies to be effective. Some people have grouped to offer verifiable leads on oxygen, hospital beds, plasma donors, and food.
During such difficult times when most of us are ignorant about the condition of less privileged people, 1 Million Meals has served people and provides relief during the Covid situation. 1 Million Meals is a Covid disaster relief initiative taken by Apne Aap Worldwide.
The organization, Apne Aap Worldwide, founded by Ruchira Gupta and has been working for the welfare of women across the globe. It aims at providing relief to women in red light areas of India and the slum regions. Women living in these vulnerable regions face unique challenges. They have no official documents and are thus not eligible for government benefits such as food rations and transit housing.
Since March 2020, community mobilizers of the NGO have been working tirelessly to provide ration kits, essential medications and sanitary pads in red light areas and slum regions. We must appreciate the spirit and rigour of the on-field workers who were eager to help the people in need despite the threat of infections.
It was not an easy task for them, especially during the lockdown, when people were restricted from leaving their houses. Police restrained any movement since travelling from one place to another was prohibited. However, the NGO managed to arrange passes to overcome this problem.
They also faced many problems during the distribution of food kits. While interviewing one of the community mobilizers, it was found that while distributing food for the first time, more people showed up than expected, breaking the rules of social distancing and making the situation more chaotic.
However, the next day they took all the precautions and provided people with gloves and masks for their safety. When asked about the fear of being infected with corona, the community mobilizers said they were more concerned about the deaths caused due to starvation than those caused due to Covid.
Volunteers have also designed Twitter and WhatsApp bots to deliver information about emergency medical options to their fellow residents. Women volunteers from Apne Aap are using Instagram to spread the word for people seeking aid or requiring assistance.
We are living in a period of massive upheaval. Many factors are beyond our control, including how long the epidemic will endure, how other people will act, and what will happen in our communities. Accepting that is difficult. As a result, we must encourage social workers to take care of their health and well-being. Workers must remain safe and virus-free in order to prevent the virus from spreading furthermore to vulnerable communities and at-risk populations, as they are the ones who are serving the people, despite their selfish greed.