India’s Covid-19 Crisis

Our work is needed now more than ever

An unprecedented crisis

India is battling an escalating emergency: more than 20 million cases of Covid have been recorded and reported deaths have exceeded 226,000. Less than 12% of the population have been vaccinated and there is now a significant shortage of vaccines, despite being the world’s biggest producer.

It is clear that the numbers reported significantly understate the real extent of the crisis. What we can say with certainty is that the health system in India is over-run and an alarming number of people are dying due to lack of oxygen, medication and appropriate care. The media reporting is mainly focused on the big cities such as Delhi and Mumbai but we know that the situation has spread across India.

Scottish Love in Action support two organisations in India, Rainbow Homes and VOICE4Girls, both based in Hyderabad, where conditions are worsening.

The impact on our projects

Anusha Bharadwaj, CEO of Voice4Girls, says: “India is reeling in the second wave” and confirms that it is difficult to understand the true numbers affected in Hyderabad as the situation is very dynamic. She says “the general morale is that of anxiety and panic…and despite the worsening situation there is only a curfew at night”. Voice have declared that everyone should work from home at present. Two of her staff have been directly affected with one entire family ill with Covid and one colleague having sadly lost his mother due to cardiac arrest as no hospital would take her.

Arunmai Racherla, State Programme Manager of Rainbow Homes, who as an organisation operate across India in some of the worst affected cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, says ‘the pandemic in some areas is reaching its peak with health department resources simply not able to meet the growing need”. Arunmai has let us know that the ‘solidarity and support’ of SLA and our supporters is much appreciated by the whole family at Rainbow Homes.

Both organisations have shown extraordinary resilience during this pandemic.

Arunmai from Rainbow Homes reports: ‘as of now the Homes are stabilised and able to manage the virus spread, with the help of our day-to-day increased hygiene practices and basic healthcare like checking temperatures daily, monitoring for any symptoms of illness and preventative practices such as ensuring good general health through diet of salads, fruit and protein.’  None of the children or staff in Asritha Rainbow Home have contracted Covid and they remain safe and healthy – we can only imagine what a different fate they would have had if they had not been rescued from the street.

Anusha reports that Voice4Girls have continued to reach out to girls and boys throughout the pandemic and are continuing to do so even now. Over 1,100 girls have been contacted via mobile devices and attended camps remotely, reporting how vital this link to the outside world is for them. They are taking the messages they learn out into their communities and even passing on the learning to their own mothers who are often young themselves. Over 500 adolescent boys have been through a ‘Fireflies’ programme, as Voice recognises the importance of boys’ attitudes to women as they go into young adulthood.

Anusha reports that they are planning to support some of the affected girls’ families with dry rations and will keep us updated on this.

SLA is needed now more than ever

Dr Andrew Fleming, Deputy British High Commissioner to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, is able to give us an on-the-ground report, having just returned to the UK from Hyderabad. He feels that the pandemic has and will continue to disproportionately impact children and especially girls, who are at the end of the queue when it comes to education in times of crisis:

It is clear that the impact on education, which lies at the heart of SLA’s work has been severe since the onset of the pandemic and what the country is experiencing now will set back the development of children, and disproportionately girls, even more. The support provided for Voice 4 Girls and Rainbow Homes makes a significant difference – and the need for and impact of this support will only increase in the weeks and months ahead to protect vulnerable young people and ensure they have the best chances in life’.  

We are in close contact with both partners and are doing everything we can to support them over this difficult time. Anusha has said ‘We are lucky to have friends from Scotland thinking about us‘.

Our work will continue

The work that SLA does will endure long after this crisis is over. Our mission is a long-term one, facilitating the delivery of education to the most vulnerable. This is ‘Education’ in its broadest sense: teaching girls their rights to stay in education and not marry young, teaching boys in parallel why this is so important. Rescuing street girls, rehabilitating them and enabling them to access education through school.

We are expanding our support with Rainbow Homes to include a Livelihood Project, teaching non-academic young adults Life Skills, such as how to cook, look after their clothes and open a bank account as they move into independent living. Mentors will work with them to identify an area of interest and vocational training to help them access work and a successful future.

We believe that our work will be needed more than ever in the longer term, as India’s economy is badly hit and work prospects inevitably suffer, driving this generation of young people further into poverty.

How you can help

If you would like to make a donation to help with the immediate crisis, the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) at www.dec.org.uk have launched a Covid Crisis appeal. They are raising funds to provide medical supplies, treatment facilities and logistics support.

You can support the ongoing work of Scottish Love in Action, creating life-long change through ‘Education’ for some of the world’s most vulnerable children and young people, by making a donation today to SLA.

If you choose to set up Regular Giving donations to Scottish Love in Action, you will help transform the lives of children and young people for generations to come.

If you have any questions please email us at enquiries@sla-india.org. We will be keeping our website updated with more information as this situation unfolds.