The indomitable power of collective work
The Covid 19 Pandemic, unbeknownst to us, opened up a new frontier. One that brought us all together more vividly. All our energies were devoted to fighting the unprecedented disruption, which in a way turned the crisis into an opportunity.
The uneasy knowledge that we are all in this together regardless of location, economic differences, age, and belief prepared us to brave the aftermath that followed.
A gamut of initiatives was taken by Rang De Impact Partners. Spreading across different states their methods were diverse as per the need of the demographic. They prevented the community from bearing the brunt to a greater extent with their innovative interventions.
Amongst the many here are a few :
Vrutti is a not-for-profit NGO and a catalyst group that focuses on livelihoods and sustainability with an aim to make the communities wealthy, responsible and resilient. They work in over 8 states – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and support farmers, fisherfolks in Chennai, Trivandrum, and Mumbai, and Nano entrepreneurs and MSMEs.
When the first wave hit the country, Vrutti incubated the COVID Action Collaborative (CAC) with 320 partners across the country. They delivered COVID awareness, care and prevention measures, and other advisory services to the communities in different languages.
Vrutti’s beneficiary communities expressed hesitancy towards vaccines after the death of a Tamil actor. The vaccine readiness awareness through teleservices and various mental health and counseling services helped them overcome the hesitancy. Also, they provided life and health insurance covers for the employees as they are the frontline workers in the field. They also gave isolation support for the communities.
The farmers were badly affected as they had to face both market collapse and funding issues. Vrutti helped the farmers and the fisher folks by initiating capacity-building programs.
Tribal Health Initiative
Tribal Health Initiative (THI) is an organization started by Dr. Regi George and Dr. Lalitha George in the Sittilingi Valley of Tamil Nadu. It works towards the overall health, wellbeing, and self-reliance of tribal communities in Sittilingi. Rang De has been providing credit for the farmers there, implementing our financial literacy program – Swabhimaan, and supporting them in their COVID relief measures.
COVID affected the communities in Sittilingi Valley as any other part of rural India. Initially, the people were not prepared enough to resist COVID as they believed that it wouldn’t affect them as they were remote. But later they started testing positive and couldn’t access the government health services, things needed to be changed.
THI took measures to set up a COVID ward exclusively for the tribal communities in the Valley. The ward has 15 beds, oxygen cylinders, and concentrators procured through donations, and has a 24×7 helpline number. Rang De COVID relief funds helped them to meet transportation costs of oxygen, food, and medication.
On the other hand, Turmeric being the main cash crop for Sittilingi farmers (Sittilingi organic farmer association) SOFA intervened to provide export certification for the farmers. This in turn kept the demand for their turmeric amidst countrywide downfall.
Action For Social Advancement
ASA has been working on the development of livelihoods for smallholders, particularly tribal and other marginalized groups through – developing watersheds, minor irrigation, sustainable agriculture, financial inclusion, and promotion of smallholders’ organizations for agribusiness.
Ashish Mondal, Director at ASA, shared that rural India is undergoing a crisis. There have been no jobs and migrants have returned to the villages to be with their families. People are short on savings and are in complete distress.
ASA had taken an initiative to provide a direct cash transfer of 10k rupees for the families who lost one of their lives, and 5k to the families for medical expenditures. They found that the Govt schemes and insurance are not efficient and difficult for the communities to access.
Navchetna in consultation with Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) started 5 Community Based Covid Isolation Centres in Beed district in remote villages where a large number of the population became Covid positive in the Second Wave of the pandemic. There was a need for Covid Isolation Center in more villages and with the support of Rang De Social Investors, they started three new centers.
The main purpose of the centers is to break the chain of COVID. The centers reduce the burden of the already overwhelmed Govt administration and save many lives. It also reduced the burden of families who themselves are struggling for food and coping with the Covid Lockdown situation.
The patients are being provided cooked and hygienic food three times, kadha every day.
The team supports and motivates the patients to do light exercise, pranayama, and yoga in the centers. The field level govt health staff including Asha Workers are visiting the centers every day for check-ups of health and administer medicines to the patients.
The Navchetna team coordinated with Gram Panchayat and communities to run these centers.
At Rang De, we provided our partners with urgent credit. Arranging the covid relief fund, a nationwide campaign for farmers and more projects to ensure that amongst the myriad of problems that rural India faces, credit is not one amongst them. The interest-free loans that were raised during the Rang De India Campaign came as a big relief to the community. Our Social investors and Impact Partners have proved time and again the power of collective work is immense and beyond compare.
Heartened by this sign of vitality from our community, the message is definite.
Together we shall overcome this.
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