Aug 9, 2020

A New Normal

Sanitizing Before Teaching
Sanitizing Before Teaching

In a world which has been forced to go virtual, who gets impacted the most by lack of digital access, especially when it comes to education? It does not need any stretch of the imagination to know that it is the children of the rural poor who get impacted the most. Already burdened by poverty and an intersection of several other challenges, these families have no access to online resources and virtual teaching strategies that others more privileged than them have. The longer such children are deprived of learning and intellectual engagement, the higher the probability of them regressing and more the chances of the divide between the rural / urban, rich / poor growing.

Not deterred by lack of connectivity penetration, we at OBLF, backed by a decade of experience in primary education in the rural areas, and a very smart, able network of women para-teachers, swung into action with a set of two distinct - yet interconnected - tactics. 

Our para-teachers who belong to these very same communities and villages have started to hold 'Small Group Learning ' in open spaces, in and around their villages. This may be a school compound, or the compound of a village temple or some such community space, or their own compound or terrace. They conduct the learning sessions with small groups of 10-15 children, which afford the flexibility to practice adequate physical distancing and ensure their safety. And lest anyone think that this is as easy as just rounding up a small group of children to teach, our para-teachers actually go door-to-door to talk to the parents and guardians of these children, explain to them the need for children to be part of such initiatives, reassure them about the safety protocols - before signing the children up.

Our rural para-teachers have also been creating simple, fun and engaging worksheets for ‘Neighbourhood Learning’. They go from door-to-door to distribute these worksheets to children whose parents are still wary of even the Small Group Learning. Thrice a week, they fan out in their communities, distribute these worksheets, collect the completed ones - and then repeat the process all over again.

 We are scaling this week-on-week to try and reach as many deprived children as we possibly can.

Explaining A Worksheet
Explaining A Worksheet
Armed With Worksheets For The Whole Neighbourhood
Armed With Worksheets For The Whole Neighbourhood
The Essential Parent Involvement
The Essential Parent Involvement
On her Own Terrace
On her Own Terrace
On The School Verandah
On The School Verandah
Jun 10, 2020

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Distribution of Dry Rations
Distribution of Dry Rations

Life as we knew it has changed in the last few months. We see and hear of death and destruction of lives and livelihoods all around the world. Society has been trying to adjust to the seismic tremors it is being subjected to on a daily basis. And yet through all the suffering and despair, we have witnessed the most sublime in humans at unprecedented levels. Where Authority has failed, civil society has stepped in. Where prejudices were rampant, individuals have healed with a helping hand. Barriers of race, religion, colour, caste, social status are being broken by ordinary, simple beings, who just have the courage and the humanity to show they care! These truly are the best of times and the worst of times!

 

OBLF is proud of our small team of 4 courageous men – led from the front by our CEO Anish and Program Manager Mahesh – which for the last 9 weeks has daily braved the elements, the harsh terrain, the physical strain and the emotional and mental agony of witnessing extreme human suffering first hand. The team has been very ably supported by some of our rural Coordinators, who have the local knowledge of “needy pockets of population”, so that our relief reaches genuine beneficiaries. The local administration and police have also helped us identify remote areas which have been left behind.

 

Our team has traversed 3,700+ kms, into remote areas where no official or civil society has gone, distributed over 50 MTs of dry rations, to migrants and waste pickers, gypsies and even low income groups who are too shy to ask for help. We have handed out 15,000+ masks, 3,000+ sanitizers to front line workers, and even 200 PPEs to a government hospital, which was short on those! We’ve distributed Milk powder and fresh vegetables to a colony of migrant waste pickers who live in conditions not fit for man or beast. Our team has reached settlements in remote areas, in forests, on hill tops, and has kept in touch with them to replenish stocks when they are over. We have directly or indirectly touched about 33,000 lives!

 

A colony of migrant workers held a “thanksgiving & blessings” function for our helping heroes. A frontline worker, with tears in her eyes, had this to say “So far, in the last 12 weeks, we have been given just half a litre of hand sanitizer and one disposable mask – this, despite us having to go daily, for several hours, into unpredictable situations. Your team is the first to have come to this location, engaged in a conversation with us and armed us with good, reusable masks and hand sanitizers for our own protection”.

 

The heartening part is that in each of these colonies / settlements / groups, we find noble souls, natural leaders, who take upon themselves to organize their group, who help us in our distribution, who ensure that the distribution is equitable, smooth and with minimum hassle. And though life is limping back to normal – slowly – there is still a demand for rations, since the recovery to normalcy is painfully slow. We will continue to lend a helping hand to those in need. 

 

In the meantime, our team noticed that in many rural areas where we operate, there was not much awareness of the precautions to be taken to stop the spread of Covid. We have therefore started an awareness campaign for the same, with lectures, posters, demonstrations on hygiene etc. Our team is now being invited on a daily basis by various Panchayats (local rural bodies) to run this campaign in their villages, so that the spread is minimised.

 

Needless to say, we could never have achieved this without the generosity of all of you, our generous donors! We will be ever grateful to you for your care, concern and generosity. We can only assure you that we will strive our best and continue to help those in need.

Awareness Campaign
Awareness Campaign
Masks & Food Kits for Front-line Workers
Masks & Food Kits for Front-line Workers
Protective Gloves for Waste Pickers
Protective Gloves for Waste Pickers
Milk for the Children
Milk for the Children
Our Incredible Team
Our Incredible Team
Apr 17, 2020

Staving off Starvation

The world is busy counting the toll of the deadly Covid-19. Millions of people around the globe have contracted and suffered this virus, more than a hundred thousand have lost their lives. But the deathly grip of this virus extends much beyond the deaths which occur directly. Due to the massive global lockdowns, economies world over have been ravaged, societies immobilised and livelihoods of millions lost in a jiffy. These down-trodden who work on daily wages, who have left their homes hundreds of miles away to earn a livelihood, have found themselves totally abandoned, with nowhere to live, nowhere to go, stuck in no man’s land so to speak, with no income, no money, no food and worst of all, no one to turn to. These huddled masses live in shanties, 20 to a 10’x10’ space they call a shelter.  For them “Social distancing” is a luxury they can neither comprehend, nor afford. For them Covid-19 is what they simply hear about, but is not their primary concern. Every day they stare at the prospect of starvation, unless some Good Samaritan offers them some food.

OBLF is in the space of Education. But with the lockdown in place, we had to cancel our 5 week annual Summer Program scheduled for April-May 2020. The rural  areas where the public schools we work with are located, have a huge migrant population, working in brick kilns, construction, floriculture and others. We became aware of their loss of livelihoods, and got first hand information about the starvation they were staring at, from our rural Coordinators who live around those communities. Our Board of Trustees at its meeting on 4th April took a decision to fund a separate project  to procure and distribute food kits to the needy. By 7th April we were live on multiple platforms and donations had started pouring in from the word ‘Go’.

In the last 2 weeks, OBLF has distributed over 400 food & hygiene kits, containing rice, lentils, salt, sugar, spices, oil, soap, detergent, masks – about 7000 kgs of grain, touching over 3000 lives.

Our team in the field, led from the front by our CEO Anish, our Program Manager Mahesh, and our 2 Supervisors Anand and Antony has been working non-stop under the most trying conditions, reaching the remotest areas, weathering the heat, dust, filth and grime. They have gone from construction workers’ shanties to industrial daily wage earners’slums, brick kiln labour, floriculture workers, migrants, self-employed gypsies in forested areas, remote villages on hill tops – wherever there is a hungry mouth to feed. Daily reports of heart-breaking situations, inhuman living conditions, immense suffering and pain have been filed by our team. All of these have been uploaded on all our social media platforms. Some earlier ones are attached.

www.facebook.com/onebillionliterates

https://www.instagram.com/onebillionliteratesfoundation/

https://twitter.com/OBLF_1BLit

Our rural lady Coordinators  who live in the communities around these areas have been a big help in identifying genuine beneficiaries and in one area the local police station has also been very helpful in this regard. 

There have been times when the number of kits that we carry are not found sufficient, since the numbers we encounter are far more than what we expect. There are gut-wrenching moments of people walking beside our vehicle, when our stock runs out. But our team has gone back and met the needs of these desperate people.

Needless to say, none of this would have been possible without the kindness, the generosity and the compassion of all our donors. Our sincerest gratitude to each one of you for helping us to stave off hunger for at least a few of the millions of the under-served. Some of you have donated multiple times, after reading our reports from the ground. A lot still remains to be done, and we can only assure all our supporters that we shall do our very best to serve as many people as we possibly can.


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