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On March 24, a 21-day lockdown was announced in India to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The announcement came with a lot of queries, but with it came a lot of chaos and havoc among the thousands of people who come to find work in the cities or who work as daily wage labourers, dependent on their day’s income for their next meal.

In a crisis like this, it is often the poor and vulnerable communities who face the most impact. Migrant families in thousands started fleeing the cities, beginning their journeys of over 200-300 kilometres to their hometowns by foot and without any food or money to sustain them.

In these trying times, Humana People to People India aims to continue working and help those in need, especially the poor and vulnerable communities who are suffering due to loss of income under lockdown.

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In our attempt to do so, every project leader started by ensuring the safety of their team members and the beneficiaries in their projects. Students in the Kadam Step-Up Programme, women entrepreneurs in our Community Development Projects and Health Clubs, homeless TB patients, preraks (learning facilitators) in our adult literacy programmes, among others were contacted via mobile phones and was made sure they were safe and had the right information – the do’s and don’ts, helpline numbers, awareness on the signs and symptoms of the virus etc.

Along with sharing informative posters and government helpline numbers, the project staff continues to stay connected with the beneficiaries via mobile phones, available for any of their queries or assistance needed.  

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During this time, the teams also analysed and evaluated the needs of the most vulnerable communities and found that several families did not have the money to buy food or shops to buy them from. In addition, migrant families without ration cards could not access the benefits of government food distribution schemes.

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Teams across HPPI projects are now organising the distribution of food to some of the poorest families made possible through donations from individuals as well as some of the corporate partners and in many places in close cooperation with local government authorities. HPPI has so far been able to reach out to more than 2000 families under our projects in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, West Bengal and Karnataka. Around 14kg of ration is being distributed to each family consisting of flour, rice, pulses, oil, soaps, toothpaste, among other essentials. They will receive similar care packages twice in the coming 15 days. HPPI’s team members who are working tirelessly in the field are maintaining all precautions and following regulations laid out by the government.

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In the education projects, students and teachers have found innovative ways to continue teaching-learning, keeping in mind the initiative launched by UNICEF, “Education can’t wait”.

Under the NeTT Programme, study groups have been made in social messaging apps which allows students to share their work as well as raise any queries with their teachers. Similarly, online classes have also been conducted via video calls.

We have a long way to go but we ensure we are doing our best and we hope to continue to raise funds and help the people in need during this health crisis. If you wish to support our cause, please visit https://humana-india.org/get-involved/donate