Back in March as the pandemic began to sweep the world, Vision Rescue had to shift their focus from primarily educating children to meeting the desperate need for food for survival in the slum communities in which they work. This was caused by growing poverty, unemployment and starvation as a result of multiple lockdowns across India to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Vision Rescue shares 10 stories of 10 lives impacted by the COVID pandemic and how the support of the Vision Rescue team and people like you gave them hope that they can come through it together.
1. Kasara tribal community
Nestled in the foothills of the Kasara Ghats) in Maharashtra State, there is a tribal community of 457 people. Only two families here own farmland. The others survive by gathering dry firewood and mangoes from the forests nearby and selling it on the railway platform in the town. When the lockdown was enforced, this daily-wage income was completely wiped out, and these already impoverished tribal communities went hungry. One person died from starvation.
Vision Rescue gifted 120 families here a month’s rations, and grocery kits with enough food for 40 meals each to 200 other families. This brought such relief to the community feared death by the virus or death by starvation.
2. Aasma – Kalwa slum community
“We are daily wage labourers and we had no idea how we would survive 21 days without income. At the start, few of us Vision Rescue (volunteer) Community Champions began cooking for poorer families with what little rations we had at home. Within a few days we also were completely out of stock.
That’s when Vision Rescue reached us and hundreds of other families here with rations and even helped us start a community kitchen. People who have no food are now able to eat twice a day because of this kitchen. Thank you for remembering us in this difficult situation. We are so grateful to you for standing with us now.”
3. Ek Umeed NGO – Nashik
A recent fire destroyed the homes and belongings of this marginalised community, many of whom belong to scheduled castes and tribes. The men here are labourers and the women are self-employed waste pickers. They sort through public rubbish dumps and sell what plastic they find is reusable. Each family here has 6-9 members including children and aged parents. The percentage of addicted men here is high and many children also work in the waste dumps.
With the lockdown, they lost what meagre income they did have.
The support given by Vision Rescue gave food rations to 220 families at a time when people in this community didn’t have access to food or money. The goal in this community is to work towards permanent solutions to lift them out of poverty, so that their children, at least, never work as waste pickers again.
4. Akhilesh – Kalwa slum community
“I sell vegetables on the pavement for a living. We are a family of four and my son studies with Vision Rescue. Our situation became quite serious during the lockdown. With everything shut down, what vegetables will I sell to whom? We were able to survive for a few days, but after that I could see no way forward. We decided to try and return to our hometown.
That’s when the first batch of Vision Rescue’s rations reached us. We survived on that for 15 days, and then again, we got another batch from Vision Rescue. We cancelled our decision to go home. My child’s teacher is supporting him a lot on the mobile. They send activities to do at home. We want to stay here so that our children can continue their education.”
5. Nikhat – Shivajinagar slum community
“Within a few days of the lockdown both my father and brother lost their jobs. We were so tense about how we would pay for our water, electricity and rent. We also had no rations left at home. Without rations how would we eat?
My entire community was in the same situation. Vision Rescue gave us and over 400 other families here rations three times in this lockdown so far. When so many problems are unfolding around us, thank you for thinking of us so much and we hope you will in the days to come as well.”
6. Safiya – Shivajinagar slum community
“Our house burnt down in a fire at the start of the lockdown. We had no place to lie down and nothing to eat. We’ve been staying with our neighbours. We got no help from anyone. People would come and see our situation and say they would help and go away. The heavy monsoons now have made things even worse. Vision Rescue stepped in and helped us rebuild our lives with so many home essentials beyond just groceries. Thank you.”
7. Sex trafficking survivor – Sundarbans, West Bengal
“My newborn baby and I both are sick. My father cannot take us to the hospital due to the lockdown. Both my father and brother who work as daily labourers are now jobless. Our house has blown away during (cyclone) Amphan. We have no proper shelter over our heads. Every time it rains there is water seeping through our roofs. Thank you for reaching out to us and at least giving us groceries during these troubled times.”
**(In partnership with anti-trafficking non-profit, WMS)
8. Shabana – Shivajinagar slum community
“My father had a bad blood pressure problem even before the lockdown began. But once we all lost our jobs and couldn’t even get out of our homes, his pressure shot up very badly. He knew the markets were shut, we had no money to buy groceries and he wasn’t able to even sell the purses that he makes for a living. How would the 10 of us at home survive? We couldn’t buy medicines to help my father. Our biggest relief came from the groceries you all sent us in this time. Please keep helping the poor and hungry.”
9. Krishna Gupta – Kalwa
“My biggest fear during the lockdown was what would happen to my children’s education. Would they lose a year? How would they continue to study? Vision Rescue took away this fear by helping me teach my children at home with the mobile phone. Every time I have a difficulty, I can contact the teachers and they always help me. You have stood strong with us and done everything you possibly could to help us and our children. I thank you with my whole heart.”
10. Zakir H – Kalwa
“During the lockdown, we were worried about how we would survive. We had nothing to eat and we were wondering how we would get food and from where. Our relatives, friends didn’t help us. My money was stuck in the workplace, even they didn’t help. But you came forward to help us.
You provided us with ration all these six months. You (Vision Rescue) were like angels sent from above. You called us and helped us with tarpaulins to cover our leaking roofs in the rainy season. I am happy that you taught my children online. Their six months would have been wasted and they would have forgotten whatever they studied. If I speak more I will be in tears. Because our situation was that bad and I was that sad watching my two children struggle. I’m not well educated, I cannot pronounce properly but I would like to say Thank you Vision Rescue, Thank you Vision Rescue, Thank you Vision Rescue May you always grow and help people like us.”
These are just 10 of the thousands of individuals and families who have experienced firsthand the love, support and care of the Vision Rescue staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to meet the needs of communities on the very real brink of despair during this Covid-19 pandemic.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Vision Rescue staff began feeding 17 families. By October they had gifted groceries and cooked food for 1 MILLION meals to people in impoverished communities.
Yet while the pivot to emergency relief has become a central activity at this time, they do not waver in their core mission, to bring educational pathways to children in vulnerable communities.
They continue to seek more electronic devices for children to engage with online education and are in constant contact with families to support them as parents and caregivers help their children to learn from home.