On March 24th, Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced a 21-day lockdown across the nation beginning that night. For a nation of almost 1.4 billion people, this is an undertaking of enormous proportions and extreme complexity, especially for those living in poverty.
Prior to the lockdown, Vision Rescue’s Case Management program covered 1800 families from various slum communities in Mumbai and Chennai. Case Officers were regularly providing awareness training and information on the importance of hygiene, handwashing and usage of face masks.
Within the following week, Vision Rescue received permissions from the local government to begin distributing groceries and food to families in slum communities without gathering any crowds.
As the lockdown came into effect, Vision Rescue immediately launched a grocery distribution and delivery plan adhering to the regulations of minimal community contact which was made possible with the help of Vision Rescue’s ‘Community Champions’ – 279 slum community advocates who have been training for two years to become ‘Champions for Change’ in their own slum communities through various awareness programs, training and exposure visits. Selected Champions from this network of slum dwellers began door-to-door delivery of over 892 grocery bags to hungry families – a total of 4460 kg of rice, 1071 kg of dahl and 892 litres of oil – amounting to 35,680 meals. Through partnerships with local police, businesses, local administration and NGO partners, Vision Rescue was able to deliver groceries for over 22,000 meals to families beyond their own beneficiaries.
Through their networks with other NGOs they were also able to reach out to neighbouring villages on the city’s outskirts and provide protective provisions to their network hospitals, police departments, health and sanitation workers.
With tightening restrictions and the complexity of implementing social distancing measures in crowded slum communities, the Vision Rescue team and their Community Champions continue to face incredible challenges in distributing groceries and meals to people in desperate need.
Yet, the team are hopeful that the unity that has been fostered between organisations, volunteers and communities will lead them through this season and promote development and growth in these slum communities in the days to come.
Please continue to pray for the protection and health of Vision Rescue team, their volunteers and the people they serve.