‘DON BOSCO Network SOLIDARITY COVID-19 RELIEF CAMPAIGN’ IN INDIA
India has been affected with 33,479,865 covid positive cases and taken the lives of over 448,311 million. While deaths account for a small percentage and survival rates have gone up, the battle has been gruesome, and the virus has taken its toll.
The Don Bosco Network worked tirelessly through the first and second phases of the covid pandemic. BOSCONET coordinated with its partners, integrated the individual efforts of the Don Bosco Solidarity campaign by raising resources and distributing relief to the most vulnerable people.
The network has touched the lives of nearly 6 million people during the course of the pandemic.
In the first wave, Don Bosco reached over 3.27 million vulnerable people in India. The program ‘Save and Sustain’ focused on providing immediate relief in terms of food and rations and preventing the spread of the infection. The network provided packaged food security to 1,238,930 people including migrants returning home.Vulnerable people in marginalized and lower income groups were educated about the infection and its prevention. Face masks, hygiene kits, ration kits, oxygen cylinders, home isolation kits, medical and cash assistance were distributed across India and PPE kits provided to frontline healthcare workers.
Bosconet also launched sustainable programs apart from short term relief interventions: The SMiLE program (Sustained Migrants Livelihood and Empowerment) was launched to empower migrants through education about their rights and skills training. Women in disaster-prone areas were given training on ‘Disaster management’ to help promote resilience and mitigate damage through the pandemic. Don Bosco Network supported 6,909 students in Don Bosco schools, with fee payment due to loss of income/unemployment. In bridging the urban-rural digital divide, its Smart Classrooms project upgraded 17 rural schools with technology and organised teacher training for online classes, benefitting 13930 rural students. Smart devices were provided for 163 deserving students. Programmes like ‘Cash for work’ and ‘skills training’ were launched to equip the vulnerable to find different ways to earn a living and livelihood support was offered to 2,746 people.
The second wave shocked the country with a more vigorous mutant strain taking younger lives, derailing the health system and causing more loss and despair. Don Bosco alongside multitudes of essential service providers and frontline-workers showed up and helped, reaching out to 2.29 million people in the form of medical attention, support, funding, and technological assistance.
While the first wave’s conversations and primary focus was on migrant labourers, the second wave brought to the forefront other communities and their struggles – sex workers, HIV patients, single mothers, widows, people with disabilities, joginis (Devadasi) and others still reeling from the losses of the first outbreak. The differences in the struggles between groups of marginalised and low-income groups showed itself clearly in the second wave.. The first wave left covid survivors without employment, as widows, widowers, and orphans. Without jobs, money and ailing with post covid symptoms these people lacked medical support, facilities, or even the ability to reach vaccinations.
Don Bosco persisted in rallying together funds, resources, and people to come to their aid. In the second wave the Don Bosco Network worked at putting children back into schools and away from child labor through educational programs. Tribals, unemployed and unskilled youth were given gardening training, skills training and job placement for livelihood activities. Hygiene awareness drives for farmers and migrant labourers were set up. DON BOSCO empowered marginalized girls and women through educational scholarships, awareness promotions and distribution of basic sanitary items.
To clear the chaos surrounding the virus, COVID-19 CARE Helplines / Help desk, Counselling (online / in-person) & COVID-19 referral services were set up in different parts of the country to provide assistance on testing, vaccinations, preventive methods etc. Programs like SLUMs (Sustainable Livelihood for Underprivileged Members) supported tailoring facilities for bags & mask-making. Provisions were made to supply medicines to 90 slum families. 4600 digital thermometers, 34 isolation kits, nutrition kits & oxygen cylinders for COVID positive patients were distributed. Network partners along with volunteers conducted blood donation drives, procured oxygen concentrators, support and infrastructure for quarantine and vaccination. Doctors and healthcare workers, nurses were stationed at various hospitals and Covid care centres.
Intervention, aid and support programs for covid survivors and those affected by the pandemic are still underway. While the effects of this virus are far-reaching and will be around for a long time, so also are DonBosco’s aid measures and efforts. We strive everyday to extend a hand to those that are in dire need of help.
Our immense gratitude goes out to our donor partners and implementing partners. Without them, none of the support and timely interventions given to those in need would have been possible.
The Don Bosco Network in India comprises of 11 Planning and Development Organisations (PDOs), each dedicated to the development of the Salesian provinces they serve. The Don Bosco network is spread across 29 states and 354 NGOs, reaching more than 10 lakh people.
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