21 March to 5 June 2020
When the threat of the COVID 19 pandemic reached Ahmednagar, we began taking necessary precautions in our projects. This included placing wash basins and soaps at the entrance of MIDC project, stitching washable masks for use by beneficiaries and employees, staff in admin and other projects who could work from home were permitted to do so, all outreach activities and community gatherings by projects were suspended, school was closed and after school activity in Balbhavan of slums were given a break. Awareness about wearing masks & gloves, frequently washing hands with soap and water, covering face while sneezing with bend of the elbow etc… was also done in all our 23 projects. But soon we realized that a major issue was coming up which needed immediate and urgent attention.
Snehalaya team started a unique FOOD AID DRIVE for all these communities from 21st March 2020 to avoid starvation of these people. Many hands came forward as soon as the appeal to provide funds for the mission went viral. People from all walks life, professionals, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, even people with local grocery business came forward to offer help.
The grocery kit consists of rice, wheat flour, cooking oil, chili powder, gram flour, spices, red gram pulse, and sugar which can be enough for a family of 5 for 10 days. Besides the grocery kit, Snehalaya team provided vegetables, food packets, cooked rice with vegetables and spices, sweets, masks and soaps. The grocery kits were made by the social workers in Balbhavan and Yuvanirman projects. The workers involved in this mission have taken all the necessary hygienic precautions while doing this work. All the social and dedicated workers of Snehalaya actively worked 24x7. Till date about 300000 people and their families have been provided food packets, breakfast, dry snacks & grocery kits by Snehalaya. Along with the grocery kits we also provided those soaps, sanitizers, masks to the families.
After 11 May, a new serious issue surfaced when thousands of migrant workers and their families started for their native states due to continues lock down of more than 2 months, no work, no wages and an alarming increase in the number of cases in cities like Mumbai and Pune. Fear of starvation, COVID infection and bleak future ahead made these workers start homewards with whatever source they could get. So Snehalaya started the ‘Mission Rahat’ for these workers walking, cycling or even travelling by trucks-tempos-any vehicle for their home. The program provided following services to the migrants:
These migrants were provided survival kits containing:
dry snack packets consisting of bhel, peanuts, chana and chikki, Bananas
Medicines like paracetamol, Electral powder
Reusable old clothes, hats/caps, old slippers and shoes,
Xerox of road maps, information and addresses of social organizations en route
Locker facilities to keep their belongings
Bicycles, handcarts, Pram carts to carry excess luggage
Connect migrants to allied agencies to reach Maharashtra Border to go to Bihar, UP, MP, Chhattisgarh and Bengal. Help them in getting thermal screening, police permissions etc…
Connect them with the industrialists, construction houses in Ahmednagar and MIDC areas.
We also helped them to get train accommodation, travel in state transport buses to the Maharashtra border and in private buses to UP, MP, Bihar and even Bengal.
Changing policies of the government brought the train and state transport facilities to a halt creating another hurdle. So we worked with the local governance, collector & collector office staff, municipal commissioner, corporation staff, police and other authorities; completed all the formalities and permissions and send the beneficiaries to their states.
Number of people helped:
300,000 food packets were distributed
5,400 migrant workers were sent to their home states.
2,380 people were provided shelter, food, breakfast, arranged for thermal screening, permissions etc… at the Bhagyoday Mangal Karyalaya in the Kedgaon suburb of Ahmednagar. The municipal corporation has provided this place to Snehalaya.
Snehalaya also helped migrants to reach railway stations like Pune, Mumbai, Thane, Aurangabad and Shirdi in our school buses and other vehicles which were properly sanitized after the task was completed.
More than 10,000 people from slums, daily wage workers, sex workers, transgender and MSM community, differently abled people, tribal community and people from very low economic class in Ahmednagar district were provided grocery kits which would be sufficient for 10 days for a family of 5.
Rs.5,000 were distributed to 2100 slum community members, sex workers, transgender community, differently abled people, Phase-pardhi community members, people suffering from TB and People living with HIV/AIDS with the help of Give India Foundation. This is one of the major help provided to these communities. We also requested these people to give some part of this amount to at least one family who was also suffering due to COVID lock down. Some of these people have started small business like vegetable selling etc…so that they could earn a living.
Our 305 employees were working 24x7 to provide various services in Mission Rahat.
Our staff of 125 care takers, education and health coordinators, counselors, and supporting staff were staying on the premises for taking care of health-food-nutrition-studies-sports and other activities of children in the Rehab Center project and Snehankur adoption center.
The Balbhavan team was also working with the slum children and their families to cope with the COVID crisis.
150 residential differently able people were cared for in Anamprem, a sister concern of Snehalaya. 76 families of differently-abled people were provided food-grocery kits-clothing-footwear, etc.
The detail information of all the migrant workers travelling to their states has been saved by Snehalaya. Some of these workers were connected with the local industrialists and entrepreneurs to explore the possibility of getting jobs and some of them got such jobs in Ahmednagar. On the concluding day of Mission Rahat, the office bearers of Ahmednagar Association of Manufacturing Industries (AAMI) were invited. They also emphasized that jobs were available and these workers were welcome to work here.
Snehalaya is sincerely thankful to all the like-minded organizations and individuals who joined us in the Mission Rahat. The first phase of the Mission Rahat concluded on 6 June.
COVID 19 crisis is still not over and we will be responding to the changing situation as it arises. After 16th June the next phase of Mission Rahat may need to be initiated depending on how the pandemic affects the society and what kind of services will be required to help the community. Your ideas, suggestions and guidance regarding this second phase are welcome.