Coronavirus relief in India

by Snehalaya 'Home of Love'
Coronavirus relief in India
Coronavirus relief in India
Coronavirus relief in India
Coronavirus relief in India
Coronavirus relief in India
Coronavirus relief in India
Coronavirus relief in India
Coronavirus relief in India
Coronavirus relief in India
Coronavirus relief in India
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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The residents of a slum have been living under a constant, unsettling threat of eviction. Developed under the central government scheme in India, the slum redevelopment project in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra is collaboration between the slum dwellers, Snehalaya and CSDC. Residents of Sanjaynagar are active participants in the design process.

Sanjaynagar is a slum in Ahmednagar city in Maharashtra, home to 298 families. The redevelopment plan addresses the need for formal housing for these families, while also providing safe and adequate community spaces, preserving the strong social fabric and bonding of the community. 

As the first in-situ slum development project in this district, the initial focus of CSDC and its partners has been on trust building and empowering the residents of the slum to take on the development and construction of their homes. The apartments have been designed with the help of the residents such that they allow for multiple iterations and combinations based on the needs of the families. To retain the social fabric of the slum, the G+2 buildings have been designed around seven courtyards of varying sizes, a community center, gymnasium, a government-run creche or aanganwadi, shops, etc.

While slum redevelopment in itself may be rather mainstream, the Sanjaynagar project has been developed with design, social and financial components unique to the needs and aspirations of the community. The success of this participatory model has the potential to impact housing policies and help build thousands of such thoughtfully designed communities in the future.

 

Community Representatives (CRs) are young men and women from the Sanjaynagar Slum who help with the work at the slum redevelopment site and act as facilitators between the residents and the architects from CSDC. During the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide lockdown, most families lost their livelihood and were struggling to feed themselves. The CRs rose to the occasion and helped galvanise resources to help their neighborhood survive the hardships.

 

Watch the video to learn more about our efforts.

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Happy Diwali from our family to yours
Happy Diwali from our family to yours

Diwali is celebrated of the victory of good over evil and the transition from darkness into light. The past eight months have been challenging for us as an organisation responsible for thousands of beneficiaries and over 300 staff. The lockdown in India highlighted even more vulnerable women and children in need and we have provided emergency support in extreme circumstances and seen an increase in demand for our existing services.

I am incredibly grateful to our Snehalaya family, including staff, beneficiaries, volunteers and supporters like yourself, for rising to the challenges COVID 19 has brought. As we celebrate our festival of light with the end of the pandemic hopefully in sight, we would like to share some of our positive news and highlights from the past few months to show the impact that we have made together.

With very few of the poorest families highly dependent on their daily wage and no savings for situations like this, this funding has literally kept starvation at bay. Thanks to many of our staff and volunteers living in the communities we serve, we have been able to identify and help families of daily wage workers facing starvation. Working in partnership with them, NGO partners and allied systems we are able to distributed cooked meals and essential supplies to those in need.so far, we have provided over 10,000 food and hygiene parcels to those with the greatest need to keep starvation at bay.

We were also able to provide emergency financial aid to 1,909 daily wage workers, including families living in our slums, sex workers, transgender, MSM, farmers, pensioners, people living with HIV and others struggling during lockdown. Used to existing on less than US$2 a day, the US$40-65 we were able to give them helped them to stock up on essential such as rice and flour and in some cases, the families, realising that such financial aid is not reliable or sustainable, chose to buy extra provisions to start their own food stalls. This will not only see them through the current crisis but will provides a foundation to build on once life returns to ‘normal’.

Due to the risks and restrictions of Corona virus many of our sex workers were unable to work to earn their living in their usual way. As we already have a program to retrain and support them into alternative careers we are really pleased to report that since the start of lockdown a total of 38 of our female sex workers have started new jobs and businesses, hopefully leaving the world of prostitution behind them for good! 

While our emergency work continues we also have nearly 15,000 beneficiaries who still need our regular support. This includes women and children living in our shelter homes, slum dwellers, sex workers and women experiencing domestic and other violence. It is anticipated that there has been a huge increase in domestic violence but we are also worried for the girls being married off in child marriages or forced in domestic servitude and at risk of not returning to school once lock down ends.

Fortunately, all of our projects remain active, including our Childline and women’s helplines which offer lifelines and emergency rescue and support to vulnerable women and children. Country-wide restrictions on a maximum of 50 people who can attend a wedding has reduced the average price of a marriage ceremony, which over 500 guests normally attend, from around US$1000 to US$200. While this is good news for lower income families who are taking advantage of the opportunity to maximise their small savings, it has also unfortunately significantly increased the number of child marriages taking place. Fortunately, our Childline team has leaped into action, locating and rescuing 67 child brides so far and our other projects are supporting the rescued girls in a range of other ways.

With our children locked in, we have focused on developing their skills and have recently opened a new school library, beauty training parlour and skills development workshop where our beneficiaries can enhance their education and learn vocational skills.

On top of this, it has been a year of significant milestone for our Snehalaya English Medium School with 100% pass rate for our first ever students to sit for 10 Std exams. This included our incredible Heena who was top girl despite being diagnosed with cancer just weeks before her exams. We have also recently refurbished our school library and are looking forward to this year's 10th Std repeating this year's batch's success.

Times may be extra tough for us all at the moment but, since day one, Snehalya has always tackled the challenges facing our beneficiaries head on, and we are managing the pandemic in the same way rising to the challenges and continuing our mission to work for the most vulnerable in our society. It’s thanks to your support that we can continue to evolve our services to provide practical support to those who need it most. We will beat this together and I am as always truly grateful that we are in this together, thank you.

Let Diwali continue to light up our lives as we hopefully move towards brighter days. On behalf of our whole Snehalaya family, I wish you and your loved ones a very happy Diwali.

Our new school library is a hit
Our new school library is a hit
Fingers crossed
Fingers crossed
COVID 19 won't stop our celebrations
COVID 19 won't stop our celebrations

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We have literally helped truck loads of people
We have literally helped truck loads of people

We sincerely hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times. Maharashtra, where we are based, currently has registered the largest number of confirmed cases in India and as a result we have been on lock down since 24 March.

We realise the current pandemic is wreaking havoc on the entire world and affecting each and every one of us in many different ways which is why we are so grateful that you have chosen to support our work. When India locked down it had a devastating impact on so many communities but particularly daily wage workers who live hand to mouth from day to day earning as little as US$1 a day. These included migrant workers who, with no earnings to support themselves and their families, struck out to seek refuge in their home villages. When we, like you, started hearing about their plight we took immediate action.

To begin with we started delivering cooked meals to some of the poorest slum communities in our district, including our sex worker communities who like everyone else had stopped working when they realized the risks of COVID 19. However, realizing this wasn’t sustainable, we started delivering ration and hygiene packs to help families feed themselves over longer periods. We also promoted hygiene and health protection distributing masks and sanitisers. To date, with your support, we have distributed over 10,000 food and hygiene kits.

After a month of lock down we started seeing the migrant workers on their long journey home passing through our city, some of whom had already walked hundreds of miles from Pune and Mumbai with everything they owned on their backs and still hundreds of miles away from home. In response, we set up roadside centers where they could enjoy a cooked meal and pick up ration and hygiene packs for their onward journeys and fill their water bottles. We also provided locker facilities where they could store their belongings to pick up once lock down ends, road maps the help them navigate the quickest route home, details of other NGOs en route who could offer similar support, transportation including bikes, prams and carts to carry their belongings and buses to take them to the state border as well as new shoes, clothes and anything else they required. During the one month we were there, we helped over 40,000 people, including 4,600 who we transported further down the road on our own school buses.

The lock down continues and cases are increasing at an alarming rate. While our emergency work continues we also have nearly 15,000 beneficiaries who still need our regular support. This includes women and children living in our shelter homes, slum dwellers, sex workers and women experiencing domestic and other violence. It is anticipated that there has been a huge increase in domestic violence but we are also worried for the girls being married off in child marriages or forced in domestic servitude and at risk of not returning to school once lock down ends. We are also now 20% over capacity in our adoption center as more babies are abandoned and relinquished and more families experiencing poverty feel that their only resort is to place their children in care. People living with HIV are also suffering with healthcare services focused on the virus and the access to their life-saving medication becoming harder to access.

Fortunately, all of our projects remain active, including our Childline and women’s helplines which offer lifelines and emergency rescue and support to vulnerable women and children. We are extremely grateful to know that we are all in this together and your support means we are there to not only offer emergency relief but to continue to offer our vital services to our current beneficiaries and the extra demand we are experiencing due to Corona.

Please stay safe.

The long walk home...
The long walk home...
Some migrant workers hadn't eaten for days
Some migrant workers hadn't eaten for days
Most slum dwellers are daily wage workers
Most slum dwellers are daily wage workers
Our kits provide at least 1 week's food supplies
Our kits provide at least 1 week's food supplies

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Organization Information

Snehalaya 'Home of Love'

Location: Ahmednagar, Maharashtra - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Snehalaya
Project Leader:
Joyce Connolly
Ahmednagar, Maharashtra India
$119,254 raised of $150,000 goal
 
806 donations
$30,746 to go
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