HOPE’s Emergency Response to Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to cause devastation across the globe and the tragedy is escalating in India. The number of Covid-19 infections in India is over 6,835,000 with more than 105,000 reported deaths (figs @ 8 Oct) and the number of infected patients in West Bengal is rapidly increasing.
To respond to the ongoing pandemic in Kolkata, HOPE has reorganised its projects. Some have been suspended due to the Lockdown and restrictions; others have had to be adapted to support children and families in their own homes and communities, and by raising awareness of the precautions needed to prevent the spread of the virus.
Emergency Response and Food Distribution Programme
During the lockdown, HOPE teams were unable to carry out their normal community-based support. Instead, they refocused and began an Emergency Response programme to help support the vulnerable street and slum communities by providing them with food, sanitation packs and emergency response packs.
To date HOPE has provided 25,232 food and sanitation packs to vulnerable families, with a further 2,725 due to be provided in October (figs @ Sept).
The pandemic has critically worsened the already dire health conditions faced by thousands of homeless people in Kolkata. HOPE Hospital was able to continue working during the lockdown, but at a reduced rate to its normal operating levels.
The Government of West Bengal has requested HOPE Hospital to set up a ward to admit and treat Covid-19 patients. The hospital opened a three-bed Covid-19 ward on 6th July 2020 which was extended to a ten-bed ward in August 2020. HOPE Hospital is now working with the local health department to try and contain the spread of the virus and provide medical support to people from disadvantaged communities that are suffering from the virus.
HOPE Protection Homes
HOPE’s Protection Homes continue to support the children residing in these homes. At present, 261 children and 4 mothers are supported in 11 homes operated by HOPE.
These homes have worked hard to ensure that the children continue to receive the support and education that they need. Children continue to be able to live in a safe and secure environment while receiving nutritious meals along with medical, counselling, educational and recreational supports.
HOPE’s crèches partially reopened in July and are implementing strict social distancing and a new timetable. The crèche teachers have created specially designed worksheets, based on the curriculum, for students to complete at home. These worksheets are created simply so that parents can easily guide their children.
Nabo Asha Centres
All 7 Nabo Asha Centres were closed during the initial Lockdown, but from June they have been working to provide educational support to the children that are enrolled, as well as conducting community awareness programmes for street-connected individuals to prevent the spread of the virus. Children have continued to receive educational worksheets and counselling support.
The families of children attending both the crèches and the Nabo Asha Centres were supported by HOPE’s Emergency Response and received food and sanitation packs, as well as tarpaulin and hygiene kits.
Resource Education Centre
The Resource Education Centre, supported by Butlers, has continued to try and support the children with special needs and their families as much as it can during this period. Since the end of April, staff have been conducting online education and support classes to parents and children using Skype and Zoom. Most of the children’s parents have been able to interact via mobile phone at the least.
Holistic Education Programme
The Holistic Education Programme has been affected by the Lockdown as schools were quickly closed down in Kolkata. The staff developed worksheets to be distributed to the children enrolled in the 28 schools that HOPE work with. One school was able to conduct online classes for its students but most could not due to lack of laptops or phones among parents. It is not known when the project will be able to resume, but the staff continue to prepare worksheets to distribute to students and create videos shared via WhatsApp and Youtube. During the Emergency Response 330 families of children enrolled in the schools received HOPE’s food packs.
Life Skills Vocational Training – Computer Training, Tailoring Unit and the Beauty Unit
Online classes and assessments are continuing via Google or Zoom, as well as and small batches of socially distant practical sessions, with masks and hand sanitizer mandatory for the classes. Our Tailoring Unit students have been taught to make gloves from scrap materials to generate a greater awareness of the safety measures needed to combat Covid-19. And, within the Beauty Unit, there has been more focus on the practical sessions to students that have no or little access to technology.
Hope Café: This re-opened on 8th June and orders are being delivered through a home delivery agency.