When we commenced the New Year, we never anticipated a crisis like COVID-19. Yet, it is precisely in such trials that we can best demonstrate faith and goodwill. This pandemic has revealed a lot about us as people, the good and the shadow side. We now know that we are all vulnerable and dependent, and need each other’s support. We’ve learnt that isolation is difficult for most people, that we must constantly work at connecting better with others and developing a better sense of neighbourliness by pushing the boundaries on who we include as our neighbours. We also know that sharing can be hard but is right. Eventually, much will return to normal but it will be a “new normal” and it is up to us to ensure that it is a better normal – more just and compassionate, more ethical and responsible, more hopeful and caring!
Our 100 masks/day project
Sri Arunodayam’s youngsters at Prayatna’s Tailoring Unit have been making free face masks for distribution since April 14, 2020. Following instructions, they stitched multiple-layer, snugly fitted cloth masks, taking up our challenge of making 100 masks a day until the end of the lockdowns. In a month’s time they had made over 3000 masks which we distributed free to the most vulnerable sections of society such as the elderly, the differently abled, migrant workers and homeless people. This project continues with the children making over 9300 face masks as of the beginning of July 2020. They make around 150+ masks per day, which are being distributed for free to these vulnerable groups.
Feeding the hungry beyond our walls
Since April 24, 2020, Sri Arunodayam has prepared and distributed dry ration kits to over 1439 marginalized/poor families of daily wage earners in Chennai and Thiruvallur Districts. Each kit contains rice (5 kgs), dhal (1 kg), cooking oil (1 ltr.), sugar (1 kg) and salt (1 kg). We thank our dear donors for making this possible.
Kits distributed: 23rd April (Thamaraipakkam in Tiruvallur Dist.) – 150 Gypsy families; 24th April (Erumavettipalayam in Tiruvallur Dist. and Ambalnagar in Guindy) – 149 families of daily wage earners; 25th April (Annai Sathiya Nagar Slum) – 30 daily wage earners; 30th April (Aathur Village in Tiruvallur Dist. and Tiruvottiyur Slum) – 330 daily wage earners; 1st May (Kannagi Nagar Slum) – 60 daily wage earners; 4th May (Kallarai Thottam Slum) – 45 daily wage earners; 6th May (Avajipettai) – 150 daily wage earners; 7th May (Pammadhukulam Village in Surapet) – 150 daily wage earners; 20th May – 150 families with physically challenged members in Chennai; 7th June (Kolathur and Madanankuppam) – 75 daily wage earners; and 8th June (Kanikapuram, Vysarpadi) – 150 daily wage earners.
At present, we are distributing dry ration kits to an additional 76 families in slums across Madanankuppam, Ambattur, Athipet, Annai Sathiya Nagar, Villivakkam, Ambedkar Nagar – Kolathur, and Retteri – Kolathur.
Reaching out to starving, stranded migrant workers
Since May 13, 2020, we’ve been preparing and serving hot, nutritious meals to over 5000+ migrant workers and their families across Kolathur, Puzhal, Redhills, Padi, Padianallur and Madavaram areas each day. Stranded in the sweltering heat, bereft of food, water, money and basic amenities, migrants were made to wait for indefinite periods of time for transport to take them back to their home States up North, during the lockdowns. These people help build our cities and this is the least we can do to show them that we care! We are happy to do our bit as we continue to feed these precious families each day.
Joint Outreach with GiveIndia and other Sponsors
Sri Arunodayam and GiveIndia have joined hands to provide financial assistance to families with special children where parents are daily wage earners. We identified badly affected families and after due diligence, GiveIndia sanctioned funds for 29 families which we transferred to their accounts in the beginning of May 2020. The funds will help them tide over a very difficult thee-month period as our economy limps back to normal.
After reading Lakshmi’s story (below), HDFC Bank and several kind donors stepped forward to sponsor an additional 95 families, to whom funds have been distributed.
Lakshmi and her husband, an electrician, are parents to 3 children with intellectual disabilities. Due to the lockdown her husband could not get work and they’ve been literally starving. The children have been falling ill, especially the youngest son who was operated for kidney problems and is now facing new difficulties. This child also has Heterotaxy syndrome, a condition in which internal organs are abnormally arranged in the chest and abdomen. To crown it all, the child was recently diagnosed with a tumour in his Cerebellum and a hole in his heart! Doctors have advised them to keep the boy safe as surgery cannot assure his life. One can only imagine the depth of anguish and the difficulties that daily wage earners like Lakshmi’s family face at this time. They had reached the end of their tether when the funds gave them a new lease on life!
For more stories, click here.
In just a month, face masks were freely distributed to vulnerable sections of society, and the hardest hit populations were fed. These programs continue, and these numbers will be updated.
For a report on our relief work, click here.