India’s Covid-19 Crisis

Our work is needed now more than ever

An unprecedented crisis

India remains the epicentre of the global pandemic: more than 30.5 million cases of Covid have been recorded and reported deaths have exceeded 408,000. Experts warn that under-reporting means the actual number of deaths is likely to be much higher.

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

Although Hyderabad has had a major vaccination drive (with 36,000 people being vaccinated in one day) having a population of over 10 million means the challenge remains immense. Private hospitals are charging people for vaccines and ventilators. This means the poorest and most marginalised, including those our partners support, are and will continue to be worst-affected by the pandemic.

The impact on our projects

Both organisations, like the children and young people they support, continue to demonstrate extraordinary resilience during this pandemic.

Staff at VOICE4Girls continue to work from home; despite taking measures like these, the nature of Covid in India means that more staff have contracted Covid, including Operations Director Vanitha Prabu and her whole family.

It is inspiring that despite such challenges, VOICE4Girls have exceeded their target of reaching 100,000 adolescents by 2021. They have now worked with 107,501 marginalised boys and girls since 2015. In the past year alone, delivering their programmes online, they have reached a total of 18,000 adolescents.

During their online sessions, girls and boys have told VOICE that the “closure of schools has put girls at a higher risk of violence and child marriage and decisions about education and marriage are being taken by parents or relatives with girls not being included.”

The young people who have benefited from the VOICE programme are now empowered with the critical skills, knowledge and information needed to help them overcome the challenges ahead for themselves, their families and their communities.

This generational change is more important than ever as the pandemic continues, as highlighted by Dr Andrew Fleming, Deputy British High Commissioner to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana:

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 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’.  

Arunmai Racherla, State Programme Manager of our partner Rainbow Homes reports that despite the impact of the pandemic on healthcare, the ASRITHA Rainbow Home who SLA support are “able to get the healthcare they need for Covid testing and basic medical care from their local Government-run Primary Health Care Centre”.

This is evidence of the excellent standards of care and support Rainbow Homes provide for their children. These and all the preventative measures ASRITHA have put in place since the beginning of the pandemic are keeping their children safe. Knowing they have support from Scotland helps keep them going: “Our children and team are doing well because of well-wishes and love from Scotland”.

We have also expanded our support with Rainbow Homes to include a new and important Livelihoods Project which aims to work with 600 young people across Hyderabad, Kolkata and Bangalore, providing essential knowledge and learning on life-skills and vocational training. This means that 600 young people are receiving individual support and mentoring from trusted adults to help them deal with the current and future challenges of the pandemic.

This has an immediate short-term benefit, Parminder Singh, Senior Manager of the Futures Programme at Rainbow Homes, told us: “Although the second wave of Covid is badly impacting young people, we were ready and prepared. Our young people have been made aware of how to prevent and control the spread of Covid and have been provided with safety products like masks and hand sanitiser”.

Only eleven young people from the Livelihoods Project have contracted Covid, nine of whom have fully recovered with two having been admitted to isolation centres to recover. Rainbow Homes are paying for their medicine and food. If the care and support of the Livelihoods Project was not in place, they would be facing a very different situation.

SLA is needed now more than ever

With schools in India predicted to remain closed for another year, a growing mental health crisis and escalating issues like child marriage and domestic violence means SLA’s work with our partners is ever-more essential.

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 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.