RURAL 7TREP AID_COVID19: rendering aid to rural Meghalaya | Milaap
RURAL 7TREP AID_COVID19: rendering aid to rural Meghalaya
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We are a small group of individuals from diverse professions but with a common passion - development of rural tourism and thus by default have access to contacts with the local rural populace. In only days after the lockdown was imposed by the State, we have been informed by traditional heads, church elders and our colleagues working in the rural tourism industry about difficulties faced by certain sections of society namely:

1. The marginalised landless and daily wagers that are not listed in the Public Distribution System (PDS)

2. Remote villages where the PDS is unable to reach.

3. Families run by single mothers, orphans and those relying on the tourism industry

They are the most vulnerable due to the dire financial effects of the lockdown with absolutely no ways and means to purchase food and medicines. We have recently identified 130+ such families living in the remote but beautiful villages of Khadar Shnong, Tyrna and villages enroute to Sohra who are desperate for food in these calamitous conditions and  last weekend, we managed to procure rice and transported the same through our donors for distribution. 

Just yesterday as of writing this, we have managed to help the villagers around Mawshamok, a village 73 km from Shillong. Bags of rice were distributed to help the people ward off hunger.


Barihun Sohkhlet with her infant daughter at Tyniar village. Bereft of rice and money, she makes her living through selling baskets and cones. After the lockdown, she has no way to sell them. To make ends meet, she also sells Sohshang (a local berry) to supplement her income. Now, even this opportunity has been stripped away because of the lockdown.

Riban Sohlket of Tyrna village (entrance to the famous double decker living root bridge) pictured with her bag of rice. She cannot look for a job due to her age. Only a minor, she is the eldest of the siblings that still remain. Her siblings that did not die from mushroom poisoning were left without parents due to the same accident.

Ernes Byrnia of Mawshamok village. 60+ years old. Visually impaired. Here she is, thanking our volunteers for her bag of rice. Most of her family is handicapped. Her son who could work is now deceased, and her remaining son is physically challenged.

These two siblings of Laitmawsiang, both less than 5 years of age. Taken care by her grandmother, Lasubon Khonglam, who struggles to provide enough, they are both orphans. Here they are smiling when asked how they were feeling with the ongoing lockdown.

Meirad Ristina Marwein, 90+ years old, from Sohra-Rim, pictured thanking a member of our team. Shortly after this was taken, upon hearing that she would be given a 50 kg bag of rice, she cried, “God be with you… Feel bad for us too, for we are poor people”.


FOOD: In our first project last weekend, we have found out that a large number of daily wagers in the remote non-motorable villages of Khadar Shnong and Tyrna do not have access to essential food due to their poverty since they are not listed in the PDS or too poor to buy food.

MEDICINES: These low-income households are already strained in good times to make ends meet, but this new threat makes it even more important for us to be able to provide immediate medical assistance (to address the basic Covid19 Symptoms) to these targeted households. Our involvement here will be community participation in conjunction with traditional heads and local authorities to bring them to the attention of the health authorities if they show signs of the infection.

FUNDS: Since these targeted families are off the grid in terms of bank accounts, PDS and Adhaar Cards, we intend to distribute cash for their other uses also.


IDENTIFICATION: Identify the marginalized families in the rural areas that are not listed in the PDS or bereft of bank accounts etc. The Traditional heads, local Church elders and Block Devpt Officers along with our resource persons/volunteers shall help in the identification of such families.

TRANSPORTATION AND DISTRIBUTION: Transport and distribute food, medicine, and other essential commodities to such families through our volunteers stationed in these villages. We are conscious of the risk of exposure to those who will rush to collect the food and medicines for which we will have to maintain social distancing rules, along with the local laws (if Section 144 has been imposed). In this endeavor, we will need the local administration’s permission to operate within these zones.

INFORMING AND FACILITATING: Inform and facilitate the local authorities like the DCs, SDOs, and BDOs to record and bring such families under their radar for future aid.

RECRUITMENT: Recruit volunteers and resource persons in villages who shall assist in the identification and monitor the distribution of materials in a meaningful and transparent manner.
AID (cash or kind): To generate aid through online crowdfunding and in-kind through food provisions and medicines

By our current estimates, the usage of funds are as follows:
1. 70% towards procurement of foodstuff and other essential items. In the last operation, a donor has tied up with us to lift foodstuff from a wholesaler where we just needed to pick it up directly. Moving forward we would need to have a mechanism in place where we can tie up with a dedicated wholesaler so that our accounts are in place.

2. 20% towards procurement of medicines and other COVID-19 related supplies like thermometers, masks, soaps, sanitizers, etc.

3. 10% towards transportation costs and food for volunteers.


            Recently, we have have assisted the villages around Khadar Shnong _ famous for the whistling villages, Tyrna _ the entrance to the famous double decker living root bridge and Sohra Rim.  However, we have also been contacted by villagers from the beautiful tourist spot of Shnongpdeng and Mawkynrew whose families are affected by the closure of tourism related activities. This, of course, depends on the funding that is available to us. The locations that we have reached, or are planning to reach out to:

1. Khadar Shnong Area between Pynursla Ridge and Sohra Ridge
2. Tyrna Area between Sohra Ridge and Mawsynram Ridge
3. Shnongpdeng Area between Pynursla Ridge and Amlarem Ridge
4. Villages under Mawkynrew Block

            Households in these villages are the most vulnerable sections of society due to their insufficient incomes since they rely on the nascent rural tourism industry, inaccessibility to public resources, lack of connectivity to hospitals and health care facilities and presently the negative financial effects of the lockdown that has rendered them cashless to cover expenses for food and medicines. We, therefore, intend to step in and attempt to distribute dry rations and essential medical supplies that will sustain them till such time as we are assured that the state’s effort reaches such ‘off the grid’ families as well.
            As people who are more privileged,we think it is our duty to come together and provide them with the essential food items that can shield them from additional externalities caused by COVID-19. We, therefore, need your help in any way possible to help alleviate the plight of our fellow brethren.

The Team:
Mr Alan West Kharkongor: Chairman
Mrs Dasumarlin Majaw; Coordinator
Mr Trevor F Lyngwa: Treasurer
Mr Keith Wallang: Transport
Mr William Diengdoh: Media Coordinator
Mr Tokiwayo Dkhar: Media Director
Mr Christian Warjri: Media Assistant
Mr Aiban S Mawkhroh: Administrator
Ms Ibarihun Majaw: Office Assistant
Mr Skhem Thabah: Office Assistant
Pastor Syiemlieh: resource person
Mr Wesley Majaw: resource person
Mr Vicky Mawnai: resource person
Mr M Skhembill: resource person

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