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#6: Taking ahead relief efforts during COVID-19

By April 26, 2020December 23rd, 2023No Comments

An update on Together We Can: Spread Love Not Corona and related initiatives

India’s COVID-19 count is now at nearly 25,000 and within Maharashtra Mumbai has the highest number of cases at 3,000+. While Maharashtra has reported the highest number of deaths in the country so far at 301, it also has the highest number of recovered persons (840). The situation continues to remain grim, however.

It has been five weeks since we began relief efforts to help vulnerable persons at this time. To catch up on what we have been able to do, please check #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #7, #8. This blog presents a summary of our efforts in the past week.

  • So far, we have reached 11,120 households (55,600 persons approximately) with dry rations, across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). In the past week, some of our efforts were towards providing relief in neighboring cities of Vasai-Virar and Ulhasnagar. We are continuing with the provision of more monthly ration kits across the MMR as people are in desperate need of food supplies at this time. Given the longevity of the crisis, many are now out of jobs for a longer period of time and almost out of savings, deepening their vulnerabilities.
  • In partnership with Blue Sea Catering and Banquets we have been able to provide 4.5 lakh+ cooked meals to the Mumbai Police, staff in government hospitals, migrant workers and their families in Navi Mumbai, Wadala, and at Bhiwandi (Thane).
  • This week we also responded to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) helpline’s request for people in need in the western suburbs in and around K-West Ward. We helped verify people’s needs among 303 callers, as many of these calls were for large groups and had come in days ago when the helplines were set up. After sorting the cases area-wise, we were able to provided 528 households with dry rations. Some of the areas reached out to include Gilbert Hill, Kapaswadi, Versova, Behram Bagh, Bhagat Singh Nagar, Juhu Gully and others.
Ongoing distribution in K West ward
  • In Navi Mumbai, we were able to reach out to the red-light area of Turbhe Store, where we distributed monthly ration kits to 9 persons. Many of these households are deprived at this time, and finding it difficult to access support. We also distributed ration kits to 350+ adivasi households in Waghachi Wadi, being alerted of their needs by the Panvel Corporator Prajyoti Mhatre. Through the requests of the Turbhe and Vashi senior police inspectors, we were also able to distribute relief to many families in these areas.
  • We have received 819+ calls from groups of migrant workers, stuck in various parts of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. We have been able to address 132 calls so far, either directly or by referring them to partner networks. It has been challenging to address these requests as they are from different areas, and other support groups and government helplines are also struggling to handle the requests. We are trying to do our best to look into and resolve the cases. This week our team distributed 410 monthly ration kits at CGS Colony Antop Hill, on Sandhurst Road, in Sewri National Market, Wadala Char Rasta, among other areas. Many of these areas have a high concentration of migrant workers. Since they have ration cards issued by their village, they are unable to avail of rations in the city at this time. Migrant workers have indicated a preference for rations to cooked meals, as they are able to cook as per their tastes and rations help them sustain themselves for longer periods of time.
  • We had earlier helped with the shifting of some homeless persons to the MCGM homeless shelter in Antop Hill. We are continuing to help them access rations and hygiene supplies. We are also trying to engage them in activities and discussions that can help their mental well-being.
  • We are also furthering efforts with the MCGM to see how migrant workers in F-South and F-North wards can avail of ration, and how those who are on the street can avail of shelter facilities too (in H-West ward as well).
  • YUVA Urban Initiatives’ Childline team, part of the Childline India Foundation which aims to support children in distress through the 1098 helpline, is continuing to receive calls for help, mostly related to the COVID-19 crisis and a range of vulnerable situations children and their families are finding themselves in. Many calls are related to nutritional needs or medical support required at this time, and the team is working towards addressing this, either directly or through the work of supportive partners. The team is also trying to access more essential ID cards so that they can do more at this time.
  • Our teams in other cities are also furthering local relief efforts, often by supporting other local partners. In Nashik, the YUVA team and members of youth collective Anubhav Shiksha Kendra have been distributing ration and food to vulnerable families in different areas. They also distributed masks to Boris-Zilla Parishad Health Center. Efforts to support vulnerable communities are also ongoing in Nagpur and Guwahati.

Issues in Accessing Ration

This week we published a blog, detailing how the universalisation of the Public Distribution System is a must. Our experience across communities continues to demonstrate how the Targeted Public Distribution System is still being unable to address the needs of many at this time. In many cases, across areas, ration shops are only able to give rice or wheat, making it very difficult for households to eat wholesome foods at this time.

Across 4 ration shops in Ambujwadi, youth residents mentioned how many families are being denied ration even if they have a ration card. Many ration shops are also only distributing rice grains (this is also the case in Ulhasnagar). The local news channel has covered this issue, but the people have still not got any respite. ‘Although many people have received ration from civil society organisations that are trying to help, many others are still desperate for food supplies as we live in a large basti (slum) and there are countless more families in need. We are trying to help resolve the rationing issue with the authorities where possible’, says Asma Ansari, a YUVA staff and member of Malwani Yuva Parishad youth collective, that is supporting people at this time.

A Creative Media Partnership

In these current times, as part of Mumbai Film Festival’s MAMI Year Round Programme Home Theatre, for the first time MAMI is coming to people’s screens at home. We’re happy to share that we have partnered on the screening of Anupama Mandloi and Tanuja Chandra’s film Aunty Sudha Aunty Radha. A small contribution of only Rs 55 gives you access to a wonderful film and all proceeeds from the registrations will be used towards COVID-19 relief efforts. Check the tweet alongside for all details. As the poster mentions, the link to the film will expire by 12 noon on 4 May, so all interested viewers need to register quickly, so that they can avail of this opportunity.

An Important Social Responsibility Measure: COVID-19 Testing of our Field Teams

Our team onground has been volunteering on the frontline for the last five weeks, taking ahead relief efforts. This is extremely tough work in challenging situations, and the commitment each one has shown is truly inspiring to us all. Although necessary precautions are being taken, the increase in cases in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region is worrying. We are concerned about their health and safety, and also the potential risks for communities in all areas they are visiting.

In this context and in consultation with our Governing Board, we decided that the field team members undergo COVID-19 testing. This includes all members who have been involved in relief work outside their areas of residence. We feel this is in the best interest of our team and of the communities. Our team and their families have welcomed this decision.

We understand there will be implications of this decision. We have planned for the outcomes, and our priority is that the relief work can continue. Multiple stakeholders and processes need to work in coordination for seamless relief, and we hope to keep up the pace and minimise delays.

We remain committed to uphold our responsibility to those who are dependent on relief, and our solidarity with our own people. Test results are confidential, and we will support any affected persons throughout their recovery in partnership with the relevant authorities.

We will keep everyone updated on our relief efforts in the weeks ahead. We hope to have your continued support. #TogetherWeCan!

‘Thank you’ to all our partners, well wishers …

Our continuing emergency relief and associated efforts have been made possible with the support of multiple partners, well-wishers, networks, organisations, administrative authorities and countless others. We would like to thank each one of them, and all our volunteers supporting every phase of the relief work, from supply management to distribution and more! It is with all your support that we can do so much.

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