Snehalaya's response to COVID 19
As the Corona virus continues to spread across the world, Snehalaya is taking extreme measures to protect our thousands of beneficiaries. Our projects are home to children and women who have reduced immune systems and are therefore at a higher risk from opportunist infections and diseases such as Corona virus and we have been very busy taking precautions to keep our beneficiaries safe and sound and keep ‘THE NOVEL COVID 19’ virus at bay.
We are happy to report that so far we have no suspected cases of the virus.
Maharashtra, where we are based, is currently has registered the largest number of confirmed cases in India and as a result we have been on lock down, with people required to socially distance by staying home, since 24 March. Before the National and state governments intervened, Snehalaya had already taken action by stopping visitors to our projects, reducing our field work and providing our beneficiaries with health and sanitation support.
Despite a reduction in our services, many of our staff remain at work to provide support to our beneficiaries who do not have homes or families they can safely return back to. We continue to promote preventative health measure including boards reminding people to wash their hands frequently and avoid handshakes or close contact with others and our teams have been busy manufacturing washable masks from clean cloth, for compulsory use by caretakers, children, staff and the wider community.
While our own beneficiaries remain our top priority we are also aware that many others are being hit hard by the measures imposed to break the spread of the virus. Therefore we have also been working with the communities most affected by the lock down, this includes daily wage workers, pensioners, the disabled, female sex workers and transgenders, to ensure they are staying home and staying safe, taking adequate hygiene measures, are able to access medical care and vital medicines when needed and that hunger does not become the biggest killer during the pandemic. (See how you can help here)
Below are summaries of the current status of the projects which continue to operate and shelter our beneficiaries:
Our flagship shelter home is ensuring the health and safety of over 200 children, around half of whom are HIV+, during the pandemic. To reduce the risk of them contracting the virus, we have closed our Rehab Center to all visitors, including staff and suppliers and have relocated our head office away from the site. We are also ensuring that all residents living there do not leave the campus except in emergency situations.
We have enough food, ART medication and supplies for the next few weeks and are running daily activities, including educational sessions, for all children. We are also conducting regular screening for fevers, coughs and colds and have made an emergency plan should a case of Corona virus occur.
The boys in our over 18’s shelter home are adhering to social distancing. Their home is in a relatively remote rural location alongside some of our staff quarters. All residents are staying within their own homes and are avoiding any travelling outside of the campus except in emergency cases.
Our farm which is home to people living with HIV is located in a rural area, close to our GKN Center, but away from contact with them and other people. Our residents continue to work on the farm while self-isolating and continue delivering food and milk to our Rehab Center, dropping supplies at our gate to avoid contact with residents there. Before Corona virus our kitchen would prepare food for the Himmatgram residents, to avoid unnecessary contact they have collected staple food supplies from our main campus stores and are currently preparing their own food until the lock down is over.
Snehankur Adoption Centre
We have closed the Center to all staff and visitors, and only caregivers are allowed into rooms with babies after fully sanitising. Staff are conducting regular disinfecting of the premises, floors, toys, etc, monitoring of children for signs of flu and crisis management planning. All adoptions are on hold.
Our registered sex workers stopped sex work completely on 12 March and are engaged in creating awareness about personal hygiene, washing hands, using masks, etc. They were also the first contributors to our campaign to feed daily wage workers. However as the lock down continues they too are struggling to pay for food , therefore we are also collecting donations to help them (see how you can help here).
Snehalaya English Medium School
Our school closed on 16 March 2020 and our teachers remain at home planning for the next academic year. Our 12 std students managed to complete their exams and our 10 Std students had their final exam cancelled and will be given predicted grades instead.
Our after school projects for slum children closed on 16 March 2020. Our staff spent time raising community hygiene awareness with children and their families sharing the importance of washing hands with soap and water frequently. They also advised them to remain indoors. Staff are working from home on annual planning for 2020-21 and helping in the distribution of food to daily wage workers (see how you can help here).
The team has stopped all outreach activities but the 1098 helpline remains open and our team is on call 24x7 to attend emergency and distress calls from children or concerned adults. They are also providing support to our Rehab Center and other projects, particularly if they need medical attention.
Around 70 women are being provided shelter and isolated in our Rehab Center, this includes beneficiaries from our Snehadhar Pune shelter which relocated the women and girls to Ahmednagar around mid-March. All outreach work has been suspended but our women’s helpline and one-stop center continue to provide telephone and emergency support to women in distress, including those suffering domestic abuse.
Caring Friends Hospital & Research Center
Our wards, ICU, nurses and medical officers are available to provide medical aid to our resident women, children and staff. We have some patients admitted before the lock down but to avoid the spreading fo the virus to our children are not admitting any more until after the crisis.
Our community radio is broadcasting health information about precautions and official government announcements and updates.
We hope all of our supporters and well-wishers are safe and well, take care of yourselves and don't forget to: