Voices of Young Volunteers
1) Creation of Database of Local Resources
A couple of APU Alumni, along with others, have been volunteering some of their time to collate a list of resources available within each panchayat in Kerala. This is being done in collaboration with the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority.
The purpose of the list is to identify locally available resources required to set up temporary Corona Care Centres in case of Community Transmission. As was observed in several other countries, the available health care infrastructure may not be able to fully meet the requirements such as enough beds. These temporary centres may be used for isolating and even care of non-critical patients.
The list of locations identified included Churches and Mosques that usually have large indoor spaces, Community halls and auditoriums along with Wedding/ Reception halls. Open grounds where tents can be set up, light and sound systems, mobile toilets, Generators, Water Tankers, Tents, and shamiana, etc. A state-wide database is being created for the same.
Local-level databases with verified contacts may be helpful in a critical time more than we think.
2) Packaging dry rations and volunteering for the National helpline
I volunteered with Telangana Social Impact Group (TSIG). The work was to segregate and pack the raw food material that the group was receiving from NGOs. We would make around 1000 packs of Potatoes, Sugar, and Dal in one day, and the food distribution team would take and distribute in communities.
I am volunteering with the ‘We the people of India’ banner, and working on the national coordination helpline. We receive calls from the people in need and direct them towards government interventions or NGOs working on supporting the needs. National helpline is 8178246790
Another important way is to pass on the resources. Being part of many organization groups, I receive many resources daily, and I make sure that I pass on the resources to the place it is needed. Volunteer opportunities to college groups, corona awareness videos (for children) to educational NGOs and relatives, and connecting organizations based on demand and supply of information. Also, information about webinars can be forwarded so that most people can make good use of time.
Putting correct information on social media is another important way. In the times of rumors, communicating correct and factual information with the source is in itself an important voluntarily act, and each of us can do while being at home. Making sure that we do not forward any misinformed messages, and In fact, passing on these doubtful messages to websites like Altnews and WebQoof is also a service, so that they can verify the information.
Collation of all helpline numbers, NGOs, Relief centers is also another way of taking a step forward. These collation can include domestic violence helpline numbers, child abuse helpline nos, mental health helpline numbers, old-age support helpline numbers so that this information can be passed on when needed.
3) Being part of SWAN
SWAN i.e. Stranded Workers Action Network is helping stranded workers and migrant labourers mostly by connecting them with NGOs or Government Administrative departments near the location where they are stranded. We also provide them with relief in case the need is urgent and we are unable to help them with dry ration and or cooked food. I am working with the Delhi & Haryana team. My role is to identify NGOs and Government departments that are involved in relief work and get them connected to our volunteers who are in direct connection with people in need.
In this entire task, I realised the following points mentioned below-
You need to start with the work by 9:30 or 10 in the morning. This is the beginning of the day for offices and people are fresh and vitalised with energy. It is easy to approach them. They are ready to listen to you. This also makes sure that the process has started on time and likely to give timely help.
Has given some hope in the government system especially those working at local level. I got the opportunity to contact three government officials first, the Municipal Councillor Ajay Singh Baisla of Faridabad District Ward no 22, second, SDM office Bahadurgarh, Jhajjar District, Haryana (officials name unknown) and third, Aditya Ajith from Manish Sisodia's office. All these officials have been very prompt, cooperative and patient.
While dealing with one of the cases in Sagarpur, Delhi we realised that people to get hunger relief had to register for ration coupons (a system designed by the Delhi Government). In times of distress, such processes can be exhausting and frustrating. But we as NGOs (which are helping in directly providing them with ration, cooked food or money) can also help people get through the process of registering, also. We should not forget that we as a country are mammoth and people currently who are victims of this lockdown are in huge numbers. Thus, some process has to be in place. But illiteracy is another challenge that we face and in such situations it is natural for anybody to want to avoid processes where you need some reading and writing. This then cripples any efficient process/system that has been designed.
4) Fund raising and low-cost prognostic test
I am currently in the USA for my doctoral studies. With my friends, we have raised over $10000 in the past month from generous individual donors. Moreover, we applied to a grant from the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF) organization to support migrant laborers and daily wage workers in Marathwada. We received another $10000 from this grant. So far, through our non-profit organization in the USA, entitled Jnana Prabodhini Foundation, we have been able to support over 2000 families with food supplies in Marathwada, Solapur, and Pune.
Moreover, our organization is supporting an enthusiastic group of Indian graduate students studying in various universities across the globe that is trying to develop a low-cost prognostic test to identify high risk individuals from Pune's slum areas.
Lastly, we are in conversation with a venture philanthropist in the USA to fund procurement of over 1 Lac PCR test kits to be distributed across India. So far, we have received approvals from the central government of India, and soon, we will be able to facilitate this kit donation to various laboratories in India.
The concerted efforts are ongoing and we hope to reach out to more people to ease out this panic pandemic.
5) Talent Quest for India (TQI) Trust
TQI (Charitable trust Reg: 76/2017) is a team of enthusiastic youth volunteers with a
vision of creating socially responsible leaders in every livelihood. TQI has transformed
from an idea of student involvement in social activities in their neighborhood to a
volunteering movement in about 30 districts across Tamil Nadu, Mysuru, and Pune.
We have engaged over 2500+ youth leaders in facilitating holistic development
programs in over 50+ rural government schools and conducting social awareness programs.
TQI COVID-19 Response update:
We initiated a fund raising to support needy during this COVID crisis:
For 15 days, food was prepared in our volunteer’s home and distributed to daily wage labours and to an orphanage in the village near Aruppokkattai, Tamilnadu. 1275+ packets of food were distributed.
Grocery kits with 18 necessary ingredients were distributed to 310 needy families in and around the villages of Aruppokkottai.
Supported a team in Arakkonam, Tamilnadu in purchasing rice bags for 100 families.
Supported our TQI volunteer in purchasing rice for food preparation. He runs a Kitchen in Tirupur, Tamilnadu and distributing 800 food packets daily to the needy.
Supported a team in Mysore for procuring masks, sanitizer and safety equipment for distribution.
We started “Phone Mentoring” from May1st for 15 govt school students where one mentor is allocated to one mentee. Daily for half an hour the mentor will call and teach 5 English words, discuss one moral story, and one small activity which the mentee will do and share his/her learning the next day. We plan to expand to more govt
school students to make sure they don’t lose interest in learning during this lockdown times.