POSTED June 28, 2021
5 ways we’re providing humanitarian assistance during India’s second wave
Get an update on how our communities in India are receiving help
By Nancy Anabel, country director, India
India rolled out the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination drive in January, but since then the second wave, which began in late March, has led to more than 600,000 active cases, with a 1.30 percent mortality rate. Both Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, our operational areas, have seen a surge in cases, too. The good news is more and more people are getting their vaccinations. In fact, this month a record 7.5-million vaccine doses were administered for free in the country in one day.
Though the lockdown was the primary reason for a decline in cases, it’s also the reason many of the most vulnerable we help are suffering economically, psychologically and socially. The children and families in our operational areas face hunger, malnourishment, failure to access timely healthcare, violence, child-protection fears (such as child marriage) loss of learning through school shutdowns or limited access to virtual learning.
It is in this context, thanks to the reallocation of funds and $70,000+ in support from Children Believe’s caring donors, we’re extending humanitarian assistance to the communities we help in India using a five-pronged approach.
#1 – Helping the unaware protect themselves
Goal: Our implementing partners continue campaign drives “on wheels” (by car or van), sharing messaging about COVID-appropriate behaviour (CAB), such as social-distancing, wearing masks and sanitizing to prevent transmission of the virus.
Impact: Thus far, 130,000 members, including 40,000+ children have learned more about CAB. And, 13,400+ people have received hygiene kits, including soap, masks and sanitizers.
Outcome: “We are witnessing behavioural changes, such as people wearing masks and frequent handwashing among children, adolescents and women as a result of these campaigns,” says Anuradha, a health nurse from a community health centre. She adds: “The level of awareness [is so high] local volunteers are contacting the village health nurse and referring patients to (our clinic).”
#2 – Providing healthcare monitoring equipment where it’s needed most
Goal: During the height of the second wave, as hospitals were overcrowding, the need grew for health equipment — particularly pulse oximeters and thermometers — in rural villages.
Impact: We worked with our implementing partners to deliver 182 pulse oximeters and 154 thermometers, supporting healthcare in 76 remote villages.
Outcome: Uma, a village health nurse at a rural healthcare centre, explains below how she uses the oximeter to save lives, measuring oxygen-parameter levels, which indicate serious health conditions requiring hospital care.
“I am responsible for two panchayats (local governments responsible for a cluster of villages) where 34 individuals tested COVID-19 positive. Due to scarcity, we don’t carry pulse oximeters to field visits,” she explains. “The support extended was priceless to save lives. Of the 34 COVID patients, 12 faced severe breathing problems; with the oximeter, I could immediately check them and rush them to government hospitals for admission.”
#3 – Providing food rations to the most vulnerable
Goal: Food and nutrition security has been at stake in the economic crisis and continued lockdowns, as the marginalized have lost their source of income. So, we’ve been distributing emergency food rations through our implementing partners.
Impact: We’ve reached 3,500 families, including 16,000+ individuals, in our operational areas.
Outcome: “My father passed away,” explains Durga, 16. “Our family, including my mother, brother and myself, were isolated due to COVID-19 and were starving. The timely food-ration support helped us address our hunger.”
#4 – Dispelling the effects of the pandemic
Goal: The pandemic gripped people of varying ages with mental-health issues, such as anxiety and feelings of isolation, concern for child-protection and more.
Impact: Nearly 300 people, including women and children, were counselled by teams who were trained by experts to provide help or refer those in need to professionals for psycho-social support.
Outcome: Parameshwari, a mother-of-two, was treated for COVID-19 for five days, following the funeral of a loved one. On her return, she was isolated for 15 days at home, which caused her fear and anxiety about how her children and husband were doing. She was referred to SPEECH, our implementing partner, for counselling, which helped her. She recalls this support with immense thanks.
#5 – Sharing news about the importance of vaccinations
Goal: As part of a larger vaccine rollout to boost immunity and control causalities in rural areas where healthcare infrastructure is limited, we’re working with our implementing partners and the government on vaccine campaigns. Equipped with the right information, more people are coming forward for their jabs.
Impact: Nearly 5,500 people, including nearly 3,000 women, got their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, nearly 4,000 people, including nearly 2,000 women, had both doses of the vaccines due to our campaign.
Outcome: “Initially people — especially from tribal and Dalit (low caste or class) communities — were sceptical about vaccinations, due to rumours, myths and misconceptions,” explains Sri Latha. The program director with our implementing partner, ROPES, notes that people think it’s a simple cold or that the vaccine will cause death or long-lasting side effects. She adds: “Our campaigns, including door-to-door awareness, impacted many of our target programs, particularly the tribal and Dalit communities of remote forest-based villages.”
Even though the second wave of COVID-19 left those of us in India in a state of emergency, with communities facing more adversities, the timely support rendered by our sponsors propelled us forward to help the afflicted communities effectively. We would like to extend our gratitude towards our sponsors and donors.