We have been communicating the necessary steps and preventive measures to be taken using social media platforms. We have set communication channels to share information quickly. Our community workers disseminated information regarding safety and quarantine rules in the native language. Our coordinators are sharing informational videos in English and Hindi to the communities on how to wear masks, correct methods of disposing of the masks, right technique for hand washing, correct information on COVID-19, Providing information on Beds in hospital, medicines, Oxygen cylinders and refilling, how to register for COVID vaccines etc. Our community workers also made posters, pamphlets, wall-hangings and wall-paintings to dismantle fake news and provide them with the right information at this crucial time.
Food packets distribution
We provided food to migrant workers and labours as they were trying to return to hometowns and villages in other states to fight hunger due to corona virus. We also reached out to communities that were stranded back in the cities with no wages. Our frontline workers arranged for e-passes to reach out to our food packing centres. We sourced, packed and distributed food packets using a mobile food van extensively covering locations where help was sought. We maintained social distancing throughout the chain from sourcing to distribution.
Included stray animals and birds in our food distribution drive
With restaurants and eateries downing shutters and food trucks parked at homes, strays have been struggling to find food to kill their hunger. The scarcity of food and water may lead to aggressive tendencies among the strays. Ever since the lockdown, we have been feeding stray animals including monkeys and cows.
Sanitisation crowded place
In view of the corona virus crisis in India, PARAS INDIA has launched sanitisation programme in rural and urban areas to tackle the spread of COVID. Organization continues its efforts to sanitise the crowded areas, colonies and villages.
Sanitary napkins distribution
UNICEF has said “Periods don’t stop for pandemics – it’s every girl’s right to manage her period safely and with dignity.” Menstrual hygiene is an under-discussed topic, especially at the household and community level. Some cultural and religious norms are associated with menstruation, some of which include not allowing menstruating women and girls to partake in certain activities and not permitting them to prepare some kinds of foods. This added to lockdown and economic disruptions have led to women and girls losing access to hygiene products. We sourced and distributed sanitary napkins to women from the underprivileged community.
The communities where we work generally have a shortage of adequate water and hygiene. They are provided with water through water trucks that demand to queue up. Given the circumstances, we distributed sanitizers among the communities to keep themselves safe from the virus.
For the migrant workers and their families including children forced to walk barefooted in the scorching summer because of poverty, we distributed slippers. There have been several instances of children walking barefooted with blisters on foot after their slippers were either torn or got damaged while walking long distances on roads due to non-availability of transport during the lockdown.
MASK MAKING AND DISTRIBUTION INITIATIVES
Making face masks
A group of women associated with PARAS are pooling their tailoring skills and setting their sewing machines working to produce thousands of face masks that can help to slow the spread of COVID-19. The women associated with our Silai school programs were given training and guidance on how to sew face masks as per the guidelines of the MoHFW. The masks were produced keeping utmost hygiene standards. Their effort will help protect residents of the communities. And with the economy under additional strain from the pandemic, the work is also a source of income for these women. These women had all previously received livelihoods skills training through projects like Saksham, Parivartan and Usha Silai Schools aimed at supporting vulnerable women to generate income.
Face masks distribution
The most effective weapon against the fight of COVID-19 has been said to be the face masks. However, in the underprivileged communities either due to lack of awareness or lack of resources people are not using masks effectively. We distributed face masks made by women from the silai centres and additionally sourced them from the market to cover as many people as we could. We provided masks to old age women and children along with information on how to use them effectively and disperse them safely.
Started LEAD program
We know things are changing due to the pandemic of CoronaVirus in the current times. We have adapted to the changing circumstances and evolved our learning methods accordingly. We are connecting the children/learner with interested qualified/ skilled individuals/Mentor/volunteers via digital means (laptops, phones, whats app video/ voice call, etc.) to understand the learner’s aptitude so as to improve his/her communication skills in the English Language. Considering every learner as a kid howsoever he/she is aged, we aim to help them to improve their English communication skills from the start. Here, we are focusing on the first level, i.e. Basics/ Fundamentals under the “LEAD Program” that is part of our inclusive “Communicative English” program. It’s a 20 Hours program divided into five modules. We have provided these volunteers with a curriculum to follow. Simultaneously, we are regularly taking their feedback for evaluation and assessment of their learners’ performance and to improve the program.
Enabling education continuity for all students associated with PARAS
The COVID-19 outbreak has slowed down or even halted essential national activities, both economic and social and even schooling. However, thanks to technology, innovative ways are seeing light especially when it comes to teaching, in order to make sure that students can keep on learning while in quarantine or out of school. As classes are gradually shifting to the online medium during the lockdown, PARAS is devising strategies to adapt to these changes. To allow children to keep up with the national classroom curriculum, the teachers and coordinators are putting in extra efforts to build course content according to the knowledge level of all the students associated with PARAS. The teachers are in regular contact with the students and guiding them in their studies. Subjects like English and Science are focussed upon. Online teaching is a great alternative to provide minimum service to students who are currently quarantined due to COVID-19. Students who do not have smartphones and internet facilities are being mentored over normal voice calls. The organization is also stressing upon the need for capacity building to help the teachers in this new setup.
OUR WORK ACHIEVEMENTS DURING COVID-19 FIRST WAVE
PARAS INDIA'S response to the first wave of COVID last year focused on reaching out to the vulnerable communities with food packets, mask making & distribution, hygiene kits, online education, mental health counseling, Slippers distribution among the communities. We have put up charts and posters around the neighborhood informing people to follow safety precautions and follow social distancing. We have also been advising people to regularly wash hands with soap.
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PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE IN CRISIS MANAGEMENT
PARAS INDIA with its 13 years of experience in providing relief during disasters and delivering large-scale health, awareness, donation campaign, on the ground is well-positioned to support the affected citizens where the need is the greatest. We have run the following programs during the disaster-
Working in flood-affected areas in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh
Kerala floods in 2018
Working on earthquakes, urban flooding & fires in collaboration with DDMA in Delhi
MENTAL HEALTH INITIATIVES
During this time, when everybody is undergoing stress and anxiety for various reasons, we are conducting mental health sessions targeting from children to women to youth. We also conducted a mental health workshop for our staff to keep them fit while they are working in the pandemic taking utmost risks. We have organised counselling sessions with experts that included art and craft workshops with adolescent students.