While the first wave of COVID-19 outbreak in India between March and October (and related events like lockdown/closure) created unspeakable economic distress among the lowest strata of the society, the deadly and much aggressive second wave in recent weeks has wreaked havoc across the country. Visuals of people scrambling for beds, oxygen, medicines, and even cremation or burial space are all over showing the level of distress people are going through. There are also reports of households selling off their assets and possessions to meet the health and emergency needs of near and dear ones. Even those who were with stable and secure income source are no longer unaffected.
To attend to patients and provide care, family members are spending hours and days together in front of hospitals. Also, in crematoriums and burial grounds, long lines are seen to complete the last rites of bodies. Essential staff in vaccination centers, hospitals, burial grounds and crematoria are fully stretched to their limit. This is indeed a unique emergency.
During the first wave, Rise Against Hunger India organized over 3.3 million meals for marginalized groups comprising of daily wage workers, construction workers, contract laborers, street vendors etc. In this current second wave of COVID-19 surge, organizing relief for those in need at a time like this is a real challenge as the risk of getting infected is so high. Despite that, we at Rise Against Hunger India have started responding to the situation:
- We are serving ready-to-eat food packets to family members of poor patients in government hospitals who are waiting outside with no food & no money to buy food. We are also providing such packets to crematorium workers who are toiling day & night to help families carry out the last rites for their loved ones.
- A live kitchen has been organized in Mumbai where over 1,500 meals are being served daily to essential workers in hospitals.
- We are also providing our fortified meals and/or dry ration kits to daily wage earners, casual laborers and others who have lost their jobs due to the lockdowns/closures.
- With some partners, we are planning community outreach to promote COVID appropriate behavior among local communities including registering for vaccines.
Through all these efforts, Rise Against Hunger India aims to support around 350,000 people in the next 3 to 4 months. We are looking forward to generous support from donors – every single donation will make a huge difference.