We are in the midst of a severe tragedy that is putting communities all over India into deep distress. The snippets below have been curated from AID’s regular calls with grassroots activists around India. They convey some of the anxiety and suffering that people are experiencing on the ground as a result of COVID. At the same time, they show us that communities everywhere are putting in tremendous effort to keep themselves afloat and prepare for the difficult months ahead. When we asked different activists about the most pressing needs on the ground, this is what they had to say.
Harinesh Pandya, Janpath, Gujarat: Amidst widespread scarcity, our needs of the hour are basic medicines and supplements, oximeters and oxygen concentrators for keeping patients at home-quarantine. Our projected needs in the future would be hemoglobin testing equipment and more support for keeping up our frontline volunteering.
Sadre Alam, Centre for Community Support and Social Development, New Delhi: There is a need to provide additional medicines and other support to families that have been impacted. Alam Bhai is expecting to receive an appeal from CCSSD/Delhi Young Artists Forum soon for additional support.
Richa Singh and Sudha Nagavarapu, Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan (SKMS), Sitapur (Uttar Pradesh): Our biggest need right now is oxygen. There is a single District Hospital in Sitapur with some 50 beds, 0 ventilators, and no oxygen. AID will try to put SKMS in touch with some contacts who are trying to secure oxygen concentrators.
Dhanya from ASHWINI, Gudalur (Nilgiris), Tamil Nadu: We are admitting COVID patients in the ASHWINI hospital and working to extend our capacity by setting up isolation wards in nearby open grounds. For that, we currently need cots, oximeters and COVID testing kits (regular as well as quick testing of frontline workers). Our near-future needs are basic set-up for the hospital. This includes cots, fans, infrared thermometers, wheel-chairs as well as COVID homecare medicine kits.
Pushpa and Manmohan Singh, Lok Shakti Manch, New Delhi: Health expenses are urgently needed. The honorarium for team members, office expenses and travel expenses is not sufficient. Now the public health system is completely collapsed. We are in real need of masks, sanitizers, oximeters, thermometers and medicines. Further, in order to continue and renew our previous projects, we will need support to provide for office and travel expenses apart from basic honorarium for team members.
Bhasha Research and Publication Centre, Vadodara, Gujarat: We work in the tribal villages of the Chhota Udepur District. There is an atmosphere of fear and helplessness. The immediate support that communities require is dry ration and medical care of about 500 families.
Subimal Bera, Purbachintamanipur Chetana Sangha, Sundarban, West Bengal: The current need is for information materials and pamphlets that can be put up in public and shared among volunteers. Soon we will need to provide food support for the impending hunger crisis. This includes distribution of baby chickens, fruit saplings etc.
Vimal Bhai, CACIM (India Institute for Critical Action – Centre in Movement), Haryana/Delhi: I am working in the urban slum areas for housekeepers/ laborers. The situation is really bad here, I am hearing bad news everywhere. If the lockdown gets extended, we need food and financial support for sustenance of these families and expenses for the COVID-afflicted members.
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