ASHWINI Hospital has an in-house, government approved CoVid-19 testing facility along with isolation care units as well. Currently, we need funds to increase our testing capacity (for both the adivasi communities as well as the hospital staff) and also upgrade our isolation care units with the necessary infrastructure. Through a wide network of health workers and community volunteers at the village level, we have also set up a system of regular follow-up and monitoring of CoVid-19 spread among the villages. Once the hospital receives information, a team of doctors go to the village, do the require testing and provide follow-up care as required. We are also parallely planning strategies to have Covid care units at the community level. The strength of this approach is really the network of community members on the ground and the relationships they have with their people.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all of us, but not equally. While the Adivasi community are the most vulnerable with the pandemic posing a direct threat to their health and livelihood, they are also most easily forgotten and remain invisible in the ongoing crisis.
~20,000 Adivasis (classified as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups) live in over 320 villages scattered across the Gudalur Valley in The Nilgiris District of TamilNadu. Most of them, employed as daily-wage labourers in the nearby tea plantations or other local businesses, have now lost their only source of income and are unable to procure food and necessities to keep them and their families hunger-free and safe. Most families fall through the cracks of the government relief packages and benefits as they lack ration cards or bank accounts. Also they can’t access local service providers due to lack of public transport and limited connectivity in these remote areas. At the same time, this community cannot, at any cost, risk the spread of the virus, given their low immunity levels and limited access to healthcare facilities.
But, there is hope.
With support from 4 community-led organizations in Gudalur -- Adivasi Munnetra Sangam (AMS), ACCORD, ASHWINI and Vidyodaya, who have been working for over 30-years to enable the Adivasis to achieve self-reliance, two volunteers in every Adivasi village has been identified. One to monitor the health status and the other the socio-economic status. Each volunteer shares updates on a daily basis to the team members and area coordinators of the organisations. At the taluk level a Crisis Management Team has been set up to support the area team members. This three-tier network of community volunteers and area coordinators, along with the Crisis Management Team was set up on Day one of the lockdown and has been able to closely monitor and respond rapidly to the needs of all the Adivasis in this time of crisis. Families most in need have been identified, and rice and essentials have been distributed to help them tide over till government’s relief aid reaches them.
This system of community-driven networks is what kicked in at Sri Madurai. Suresh Anna, the area coordinator from AMS, having received reports from the village volunteers of the urgent need of rice for some of the poorest families sprung into action. Along with the ACCORD team, 500 kilos of rice, a driver to transport the rice to the village, the necessary police permissions were arranged and the essentials delivered to the village. Suresh, generally a person with an inscrutable exterior called to report on the successful distribution of rice. In a choked voice he said that two of the old women were very emotional and said that if it had not been for this they would have gone to bed hungry.
These Adivasi communities have come together as one and have formed a compassion-based response to tide over this crisis. A few villages have reported that people who had even a little surplus shared their rice with those who didn’t have any, They have always practised and shown what unity and sharing means. However, in this prolonged crisis situation they are quickly running out of resources to support themselves.
The funds will be used for
- Addressing socio-economic needs of 5000 families immediately that support their sustenance (for example, food, groceries, dry ration, personal hygiene necessities, transport costs etc). We also recognize the need to plan and prepare ourselves to support livelihood opportunities for the communities in their resilience & recovery post the pandemic. This would be at INR 1500 per family.
- Addressing the healthcare needs of these Adivasi communities through ASHWINI -- a community-run hospital making healthcare accessible and comprehensive for ~5000 Adivasi families -- by providing and strengthening preventive and curative care during this pandemic. (for example: procuring 1000 Personal Protective Equipments for healthcare professionals, medical supplies for the communities as well hospital needs, awareness campaigns and Mobile clincs etc) . Each PPE kit costs INR 800.
Every donation that you make will go a long way in ensuring that the determination and efforts of the Adivasis to help their own communities are not in vain.