Children during morning exercise
“One Two – It might not be a seasonal flu
Three Four – CORONA waits outside the door
Five Six – Stay home and watch some flicks
Seven Eight – Our carers are great
Nine Ten – Social distance is must to maintain
Eleven Twelve –Take care of yourself”
-By Anjali, 14 years
Love & Greetings from the children at Sunshine Homes!
I am Santosh, a child living at one of the Sunshine Homes (Udayan Ghar), run and managed by Udayan Care with your love and support under the aegis of Udayan Ghar Programme. I hope you and your loved ones are keeping well during these troubled times. I feel happy to be writing this report and share how we, the children and staff at Sunshine Homes, have been dealing with this pandemic outbreak and how we have felt during the nationwide lockdown.
It’s been a difficult time for all of us during this pandemic crisis and everyone and everything across the world is affected in one way or the other. In other words, the impact of the pandemic COVID-19 has been outrageous.
The impact of the pandemic, clearly visible in the form of economic and health crisis, no or difficult access to food, education and other services etc., has presented a proven threat into the lives of all people across age and identities. However, children across the world, remained to be the worst affected due to this unprecedented crisis. As we all know that governments all over the world have issued stay at home and social distancing guidelines to contain the spread of the virus, the precautionary measures may vary from country to country but the policies largely involvedclosing academic institutions, non-essential physical shops and businesses, and limiting public transportation and spaces, as well as social gatherings.
During the nationwide lockdown we, like everybody else, did not have physical access to school, our friends, schoolmates and had no or limited opportunity for outdoor play and socialization. We felt secluded and isolated. Such a time could have impacted us adversely making us bored, lethargic, anxious, angry and frustrated and may have exposed us to some unforeseen risks that other vulnerable children face every day and night. It could have hampered our health and development. However, we are fortunate enough to have around such a loving family, including carers, Mentor Parents and counsellors to look after us.
Our Udayan Care family devised strategies to continue to provide care and protection to more than 200 children and Aftercare Young Adults living in 17 Sunshine Homes and 2 Aftercare facilities. Apart from providing safe and protected environment at the homes, nutritious diet and health services to all of us, the team tried its best in making us strong and stay connected with each other. One of the major interventions that the team took up was to ensure that none of us miss our part on school learning.
As the schools in India continue to be shut for an indefinite period of time, online classes on zoom, google meet, Microsoft teams, whatsapp and many other digital platforms are being conducted. It is similar to home schooling happening abroad. I am also attending my school classes on such digital platforms. Seeing the need, all Sunshine Homes have been equipped with additional desktops, laptop, web cameras, speakers, mics, high speed internet and other gadgets. This technological transformation has helped us become smarter and stand on the brighter side of the digital divide.
Much emphasis is being given on physical and mental health at Sunshine Homes. While following the required precautionary measures as notified by government in the guidelines are being followed, regular sanitization of Sunshine continued to happen and provision of basic health aids, medicine and consultation with doctors and physicians is being well taken care of. As new children continue to come in the Udayan Ghars, it is ensured that they are quarantined in a separate room within the ghar premises for the required period and medical test for COVID-19 is done. Group and individual counseling sessions, structured routines and productive engagements are being planned and conducted with children, youth and carers. Considering the psychological impact of the pandemic crisis, a number of training programmes and workshops have been conducted with children, carers and other concerned stakeholders.
Some of the training programmes or workshops that took place were :
1) Art; A mode of Expression with carers and social workers
A time off from their regular and vigorous routine, the carers and social workers were engaged in experiencing the therapeutic benefits of art. The session offered space to the participants to rejuvenate, relive the moments of their childhood and, experiment with their creativity. They also got to know about some renowned artists and were mesmerized by their artwork and inspiring stories.The sessions were conducted separately with carers and social workers.
2) EmoAid Training programme with children, youth, carers, social workers and mentor parents
Emo-Aid, a self- care online programme conducted by mental health professionals, is designed to provide Emotional First Aid for Emotional wellbeing. It is a series of experiential learning workshops to develop practical skills and tools for enhancing and capacity building in emotional health.It is being conducted with all the programme stakeholders in batches
3) Keeping up well during COVID Times with children
The Corona Virus Pandemic and the unending lockdown have taken a toll on not only the lifestyle but also the mental health of children. Having being engaged in creative activities while continuing to attend online classes, children have accepted it as a new way of life. But as this time is getting prolonged day by day, there is brewing up anxiety about the present and the future. To facilitate children develop an effective coping mechanism and also understand that this will pass too, a session on “Keeping up Well during COVID Times” was conducted.
4) Handling Inspections at Udayan Ghars with Carers
As frequency of inspections has increased in the recent past, the vigilance of the Government Bodies has been at its highest. With the growing lens of the Inspection staff, children often became scared and felt uneasy on the suddenness of these checks. On the other hand, the care staff also was suddenly on tender hooks. Thus to effectively manage the inspections and provide a support to the care staff, a workshop on “Handling Inspections at the Udayan Ghars.”
All such initiatives and interventions have helped us stay strong and sail through this pandemic crisis but our carer teamacross all the homes has played a prime role in keeping us safe and healthy. They were there with us and for us all the time. They cooked food for us, played indoor games with us, exercised daily in the morning with us, engaged us in some exciting activities and storytelling, helped us with our studies, helped us overcome our fears and anxieties around the pandemic and lived with us 24X7. Ifdoctors, nurses and police are the warriors outside homes then our residential carers are the superheroes inside the homes.
To acknowledge, appreciate and honor the heroic work of the residential carers during COVID times, the UG team organized an event, ‘To Carers, with Love’ that ran over a week. The group of children, mentor parents and social worker at each of the 17 homes brought in their own flavors and gave their best to make the day special for one of the most important part of their Udayan Ghar family i.e. the carers. Where some of the homes planned for surprise party with home cooked food by mentor parents and social workers, the other homes went with organizing dance and group song performance and funny impersonation acts by the children for the carers. The group at each ghar also presented hand crafted thank you cards with beautiful messages for the carers.
While culminating, the individual celebrations resulted in the grand online event organized where mentor parents, carers, social workers, programme officials and members from the senior management across the 17 Udayan Ghars connected over a video call to give tribute to our residential carer team, the unsung heroes of the pandemic.
The one thing that I am certain about is that I am lucky to have found such a loving and caring family at Sunshine Homes, Udayan Care.
I am grateful to GlobalGiving and all the associated sponsors and donors who have supported my family so that children like me can be loved and looked after by such wonderful family members.
Hoping to stay connected with you all.
Stay safe and healthy.
Santosh, 18 years
Children attending online classes
Celebrating our Carer staff