May 24, 2021

COVID update

Our children love learning with technology
Our children love learning with technology

I sincerely hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and safe during this challenging pandemic. As I am sure you are aware, the second wave of COVID is devastating India. Ahmednagar District, where Snehalaya operates is one of the worst hit with no beds, oxygen or medicines available to our largely rural population of nearly 5 million. High unemployment, a severe lack of statutory healthcare, drought, poverty and a large transient population has historically perpetuated many issues for low-income families, most of whom earn their living from agriculture, daily wage or migrant work.

Since March 2021 a flood of positive cases has rendered the current medical facilities throughout the district insufficient. There has been a steep rise in the number of Corona positive patients in the district and with lack of vaccinations and testing we are the worst affected district in our state with over 3,000 new cases still being reported each day. With the already overburdened medical facilities throughout the district insufficient, we have established two COVID care centers and are supporting those hardest hit in many ways. You can read more about our COVID relief work at www.snehalaya.org/covid2021.

Due to lockdpwn restrictions, all schools and colleges have been closed for most of the last year and with the second wave, school board exams have been cancelled. It is now the summer vacation and the academic year would normally resume on 15 June, however with little improvement in the situation so far this seems unlikely. With over 700 million children out of school due to the virus, education has never been so important. We are currently planning how we can get all of our children safely back in their classrooms and help them to catch up on their work. In the meantime, we are conducting online classes and educational activities with all of our beneficiaries. By continuing our work with them, we have also been able to support their families with food, hygiene, health & financial aid, vastly reducing the impact of the virus in the most vulnerable communities.

We are also reaching out to those in our other local communities where children orphaned by COVID are at increased risk from traffickers and we have opened a dedicated shelter for them and are sucring financial aid that will help them rebuild their lives. Child marriages also continue to rise and to date our Childline team has saved over 100 child brides – nearly 50% of all rescues in our state! With your support, we will ensure that all of these children receive the support they need to continue their education when safe to do so.  

Thank you for all of your support, you are literally working alongside us to save lives. We couldn't do it without you and we are extremely grateful and encouraged by your actions to ensure our health and safety, please do stay safe yourself.

Using our extra time at home to teach new skills
Using our extra time at home to teach new skills

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May 2, 2021

COVID update

Our center is already 20% over capacity
Our center is already 20% over capacity

The second wave of COVID is devastating India. Ahmednagar District, where Snehalaya operates is one of the worst hit with no beds, oxygen or medicines available to our largely rural population of nearly 5 million. High unemployment, a severe lack of statutory healthcare, drought, poverty and a large transient population has historically perpetuated many issues for low-income families, most of whom earn their living from agriculture, daily wage or migrant work. Since March 2021 a flood of positive cases has rendered the current medical facilities throughout the district overburdened and insufficient. There has been a steep rise in the number of Corona positive patients in the district and at the start of April, Times of India reported it was in the top ten worst affected districts in India with over 1,000 new cases a day and this has now risen to over 3,000 new cases each day.

 

Since the onset of the pandemic, the number of abandoned children has risen sharply, at the same time, the adoption process has been disrupted by lockdown, being halted from March to September 2020 and again since April 2021 for the foreseeable future. As a result, in 2020, our adoption center was running at 20% over capacity. Fortunately, we were able to resume adoptions between the first and second wave completing the process to complete 46 adoptions but with the current devastating situation we are again already exceeding our capacity with 34 babies in our 30-bed center.

With lockdowns and the pressure of managing COVID cases dominating healthcare, most maternity facilities are closed and women and girls are forced to deliver their babies at home. They are also unable to access essential pre and post-natal services. In normal circumstances women and girls with unwanted pregnancies are referred to our center by maternity professionals where we can ensure they receive the support to safely deliver and where necessary relinquish their babies. We also rely on our large network of community volunteers to identify other potential abandoned babies within their communities. With more girls and women giving birth behind the closed doors of lockdown, we are finding it much harder to find those in need of our services.

We remain worried about pregnancies being conducted at home without adequate support both for delivery and the care of the newborns. These include women and girls like Radha’s mother who are finding it much harder to access our support. She is HIV positive but thanks to our HIV hospital we were able to treat her during her pregnancy so that her baby, Radha, was born HIV negative. She was also born with tuberculosis but we were able to treat that too and she made a full recovery and has now been adopted by foreign parents.

These kinds of complications are already common in ‘normal’ situations and the pandemic is only adding to the problem as we see an increase in the number of home-birth complications resulting in deformities and minor to serious health conditions. With most hospitals beds reserved for COVID patients we are providing medical and emotional support to as many as we can through our network of paediatricians and maternity hospitals able to manage out-patients. Without you and our dedicated teams of volunteers and staff who conduct regular nightly patrols and socially-distanced outreach work, many more babies like Radha simply would not make it.

We are incredibly grateful for your support that allows us to continue to care for the mothers and babies already in our center and the many more who will be admitted in the coming months and post-lockdown.

Please do stay safe.

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May 2, 2021

Response to the second wave of COVID

Lining up for admission to our COVID care center
Lining up for admission to our COVID care center

As you are no doubt aware, the second wave of COVID is devastating India and we are extremely grateful for your support which will go some way to helping us get through this.

Ahmednagar District, where Snehalaya operates is one of the worst hit with no beds, oxygen or medicines available to our largely rural population of nearly 5 million. High unemployment, a severe lack of statutory healthcare. drought, poverty and a large transient population has historically perpetuated many issues for low-income families, most of whom earn their living from agriculture or daily wage work including many migrant workers.

Since March 2021, a flood of positive cases has rendered the already overburdened medical facilities throughout the district insufficient. We have seen a steep rise in the number of Corona positive patients and at the start of April, Times of India reported it was in the top ten worst affected districts in India with over 1,000 new cases a day; the current number of reported active cases stands at over 23,000. With high completion for the limited number of beds, oxygen and medicines available, the costs required to access these facilities are sky-rocketing with opportunists driving a highly inflated black market.

To relieve the burden on medical facilities, those testing positive with minor or no symptoms are advised to self-quarantine. However, for those on low or no incomes who live in very small houses or slum dwellings isolation of COVID positive family members is simply not realistic. For those with more serious symptoms the lack of resources and inflated fees involved in gaining what treatment is available is beyond their reach. As everyone comes under psychological and financial pressure cases of trafficking, child marriage and domestic violence are also increasing and, with many businesses and government offices closed or reduced, there is very limited access to support services.

In the first wave of the pandemic last year, we helped over 300,000 people and with your help, we have been putting pressure on authorities to intervene and manage the situation. We are also taking a more direct approach, adapting, expanding and initiating new projects to provide vital support to as many of the 175,000 plus people in our district who have tested positive since the start of the pandemic, including providing financial aid to families whose main earner has died.

We have also transformed our 30-bed hospital dedicated to the care of HIV+ patients to focus on COVID patients - currently managing over 70 patients a day. We have also created a COVID Care Center for up to 150 asymptomatic patients at a time, including many of our own beneficiaries, including children and those living with HIV. This too is working over capacity to treat as many of the people living in our district as possible.

At the same time, we are distributing thousands of masks and hygiene kits while also desperately trying to source oxygen concentrator machines and other essential supplies. Outreach work, ambulance services and our community radio are helping us to reach out to communities in all corners of our district. The challenge is tough but with your support we are dedicated to providing immediate support and relief to everyone in need.

Thank you, by adding your donation, you are literally working alongside us to save lives. We couldn't do it without you and we are extremely grateful and encouraged by your actions to ensure our health and safety, please do stay safe yourself.

Our team - here to help all
Our team - here to help all
Lobbying for better systems of support & relief
Lobbying for better systems of support & relief
Responding to calls for help
Responding to calls for help

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