India has been in lockdown since the end of March. Migrant families travel across the country to return to their own villages because there is no longer any work for them in the city. There are many myths in circulation: For example, in the region of SSH (Namakkal and Dindigul) the chicken industry is quite large. This is a major source of income for a large number of parents / carers of the children. It is said that eating eggs causes Corona, which means that the sale of eggs now has no profit. The schools are closed, which means that children have lost their safe place.
We are now six months later. The world is still in the grip of the Corona virus. In the Netherlands we regained a little freedom in a 1.5 meter society in the summer months. Children can go to school here again and, thanks to the digital teaching methods, have been able to continue learning during the lockdown. Not ideal, but it is in stark contrast to the children in this project.
Schools are still closed in India and there is a lot of uncertainty about when they will reopen. Expectations for the Tamil Nadu region were at the end of September, but little has changed yet. Here too teaching methods have been set up digitally. Lessons were given via text messages from the teacher to a mobile phone or Zoom. And with that, only 30% of the normal curriculum was offered.
There are no Children's Clubs or other after-school activities. Children help with the household, watch television if there is power (in India a few years ago the government gave all poor families a television as propaganda) or, in the worst case, use alcohol / drugs and go criminal.
What are the challenges?
The effect of Covid-19 is great everywhere, but at the same time we clearly see the gap between rich and poor being widened further. In this poor region where we support 350 children and their families, people live very poorly. As day laborers, parents really depend on this daily income to get food on the table. Because people have to sit close together at home from a hopeless position, domestic violence against women and children has increased.
Due to the many travel restrictions, people could not go to the bank and therefore had no access to bank accounts. Shrewd lenders offer high-interest loans, putting families in more and more trouble in the longer term. Prices for gasoline, food and medical care are skyrocketing. That means that some parents no longer see a way out. They 'sell' their daughters or put children to work.
Fortunately, SSH has been able to do everything in its power to prevent the above issues for the families in the program. Thanks to the permission of the local authorities, they were allowed to travel to the villages to distribute food, medicines and hygiene kits (mouth masks, soap). Each family has already received 10 kilos of rice from the government. But that was not nearly enough for families of 5+ people, so the support was desperately needed.
What can Net4kids do in cooperation with SSH during this pandemic?
SSH staff members have often managed to keep in touch with the families in their programs by telephone. Also through the large network of women's groups, many families have been reached with information about Corona and guidance with all the challenges that these women and their families faced in this pandemic. (SSH has set up women's networks for years and guided them to a self-supporting system. Together they save money and can help each other in times of need. The counseling and support was badly needed to keep up the courage. Women saw all their savings disappear and without work they could not possibly feed the family. For example, to be able to go to a hospital (for other complaints) you had to ask for permission. But if you have never learned to read and write, filling out such a form is impossible. There too, SSH continued to actively offer their support. Medicines were brought directly to the villages, and getting tested for Corona was also made possible for these difficult to reach target groups. If people are infected and need to be quarantined, SSH provided a safe place.
As a health organization of origin, SSH was very well able to respond quickly to this pandemic and to provide care, information and guidance to many people in this region. Also in addition to the families that are supported via Net4kids.
Prevent a generation without education and opportunities.
Ultimately, the most vulnerable group, the children, are hit hardest. They stand still in their development. The (difficult to follow) digital education, the lack of contact with other students, no sports and games.
This summer, the press is talking about a worldwide 'Covid Generation'without education and opportunities that must be avoided:
For years we have been providing education, health care in a safe environment for some 350 children. SSH also offers them the life skills, so that older children (especially) have now built up a lot of self-confidence, know how to stand up for themselves and have immediately seen the impact of education on their lives. We expect that they will be able to resume their training as soon as possible. We do hope that when they have now completed primary education (up to 12th standard) they will continue to learn, will do vocational training. However, given the current economic situation, that is still a major uncertain question for many children.
It is precisely in order to be able to continue to support these children in our program, who have already made so many good steps towards an independent independent future, in the coming year, that we are very much looking for investors. With De Club van Duizend we have been able to offer immediate emergency aid, but we also want to be able to support these children in the longer term with an education.
Do you want to make an impact with your company? Expand your commitment to talent development in your own organization to talent development for the next generation?
The children in projects such as this one desperately need your personal support and / or the support from your company for their future.
Also make a contribution? View on net4kids.org/kominactie what you can do.