As coronavirus cases continue to rise and restrictions to slow its spread are being put in place, we are launching our biggest ever appeal – and we are asking for your help.
On 11th March 2020, The World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The impact of this global outbreak will have a catastrophic effect on already vulnerable communities.
India and Nepal are now officially in lockdown, with people unable to leave their homes for work or supplies. These preventative measures alone are already causing the communities we serve to be in urgent need.
Millions of Dalits are daily wage labourers – which means that they, and their families, live hand-to-mouth based on the income they receive every day. Without the ability to work, they have no savings to fall to and will not be able to afford basic needs like food, education or healthcare.
The stigma of “untouchability” is magnified in times of crisis and will make it that much harder for Dalit families to access the goods and healthcare they need. Furthermore, conditions in slum and poverty stricken areas are prime for the spread of disease. With so many people living in close proximity together, social distancing is impossible. Lack of education around proper hygiene in an epidemic, coupled with limited access to healthcare, means that not only can illness spread easily, proper treatment is extremely hard to get for those in need.
Isn’t the Indian government doing something?
Although the Indian government is committed to provide supplies to its population, we know that Dalits and other Tribal communities are among the last to receive aid in times of crisis.
Commonly living in rural and isolated areas, aid takes far longer to reach them and is often too late when it does. With nearly a third of a billion people living below the poverty line in India and Nepal, the messages from partners on the ground is clear: these people will need our help and the problem is far too big for any one government to solve.
What are we doing?
We don’t know how long the coronavirus crisis will last; however, we do know that the most vulnerable communities, including those we work with, will suffer the most.
Our strong community links mean we are well positioned to respond in a time of crisis. We are working with our partner organisations in-country as well as other aid agencies and have already begun working to assist the communities there.
With students and staff self-isolating at home, we are working with the local government to turn our hostels into emergency overflow housing for those showing symptoms of the virus. We have begun work helping laid-off workers access emergency government welfare and our project workers have been distributing sanitation and healthcare information to villages, too.
During the lockdown, we are working with our partners to distribute food and rations to isolated communities. We will also be able to continue health awareness and sanitation campaigns, as well as advise community leaders on sanitation, via online communication.
In the weeks and months to come, much more efforts will be needed to assist and protect the communities we work with. We anticipate an increase in domestic violence cases, millions of young people dropping out of education and a surge in child labour as families try to regain an income. As soon as we can, we will need to act with speed and decisiveness.
How much do we need to raise?
We urgently need to raise £200,000 – our biggest campaign ever.
The spread of coronavirus is affecting all of us and we know that times are difficult and scary. We need your help in order to make this work and get help and support to those that will need it more than ever.
If you would like to give then please visit www.karuna.org/coronavirus-crisis
Thank you for getting involved.