This post contains detailed updates. Please see here about our response to the COVID-19 emergency.
In the last week of March, a 21-day lockdown was announced in India, as a measure to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Many activists and NGOs like us started worrying how we will survive such a period financially. What it would mean to daily wage workers, migrant labourers, Nomadic & De-notified Tribes, adivasi (tribal) families, households headed by disabled persons, etc. have no fixed income and almost no savings. Many swung into action to provide relief including us. Since then, the lockdown has been extended twice to now run into almost two months. We as social activists must respond in a sustained manner, and also plan efforts for long-term injuries.
- Youth leaders in Kolegaon, Dombivali and a team member in Ambivali sourced and distributed dry ration kits to 125 adivasi (ST) families working in brick kilns. They were entirely trained on the phone in every aspect of relief including safety protocol.
- Simultaneously, the arduous work of finding nomadic tribe (NT/DNT) families across Maharashtra began – through establishing contact with local grassroot leaders on the phone. At least 10 districts were reached thus. This was entirely outside of our project areas but our founder being NT herself, we decided that this was the time to find those most removed from the mainstream, where there wasn’t awareness of even helplines and relief operations. Direct bank transfers were done to 88 such families.
- Youth leaders of Kolegaon covered the remaining brick kilns near their village, reaching another 64 ST families with dry rations.
- 50 more ST families were reached with dry rations in Badlapur gaon in Thane District.
- 42 NT/DNT families across Maharashtra were reached with direct bank transfers.
- Simultaneously, team members were trained and they started counselling on the phone, reaching 70 youth and clients of our community centres. Bank transfers or dry rations were provided to 35 of them as part of mental health support.
- Dry ration relief to 50 SC families in Badlapur gaon and 13 NT/DNT more families across Maharashtra.
- Team started reaching out to college youth participants of our Constitution Literacy & other training programs with counselling.
- Online campaigns of ‘Ambedkar Jayanti from Home’ (starting from the actual day of 14th April to end of April) and ‘Mental Justice Story’ Contest were started. Youth, activists, etc. were invited to participate.
- Tweet Chat was organized for awareness and advocacy about the plight of the NT/DNTs.
- An open letter requesting the Chief Minister of Maharashtra to respond to the dire situation of NT/DNTs – living without shelter, food, safety, sanitation in this pandemic was published by founder Deepa Pawar in collaboration with other NT/DNT activists.
- Similar letters were sent to several District Collectors of Maharashtra state. 2 Districts responded positively – with appointment of nodal officers in Mumbai District and surveys carried out by order of Kalyan Court for Thane District.
- Group calls and group counselling were organized with youth leaders carrying out relief on the ground.
- Dry ration relief to 121 NT/DNT & SC families from Kalyan to Badlapur and direct bank transfers to 18 NT/DNT families across Maharashtra.
- Online campaigns of ‘Ambedkar Jayanti from Home’ and ‘Mental Justice Story’ Contest continued.
- Follow-up of advocacy with District Collectors continued.
- With the increasing work with NT/DNT families, started receiving calls from grassroot leaders of these communities. Thus, 63 families across Dombivali, Badlapur, Bhiwandi and Mumbai were reached, and list of 550 more was documented with much efforts of screening.
- Started contacting NT/DNT, ST persons to record their experiences on video since no one could voice their issues better than themselves. Youth leaders and team members reached them where possible.
- 430 NT/DNT families across Kalyan, Vitthalvadi, Ambernath, Ghatkopar were reached with dry rations. Strong networking with community local leaders was established during this.
- An awareness film was made and published on how to sensitively support the most vulnerable populations around us such as NT/DNT, adivasi, migrant & seasonal labourers, persons with mental illness, etc. in this pandemic.
- Publication of videos of voices of people on the ground continued.
Hear Umesh Salunkhe of Satara, Maharashtra.
- 200 families of different NT/DNT communities reached in Kalyan and Vitthalvadi with dry ration.
- Bank transfers as a form of financial and moral support to 11 families with COVID positive patients.
- 220 families of various NT/DNT communities reached in Kalyan, Vithhalvadi, Ambernath, and Indapur in Pune with dry ration.
- Second round of bank transfers started to few very needy families.
- Bank trasnfers to survivors & victims of caste atrocities.
We thank Mariwala Health Initiative, individual donors, Samarpan NGO and Rotary Club and Rotract Club of Dombivali East for being with us as supportes.
We need to continue to fundraise; the need is incredibly huge.
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All Donations to Anubhuti Charitable Trust are tax exempt under section 80G of the Income Tax Act, 1961.