India’s COVID-19 count is now nearing 400 and Maharashtra’s count is now nearly 100. Taking other countries afflicted by the virus as an example, experts believe that we are now in a critical stage and containing the spread of the virus will be crucial in the coming weeks.
Our vast communities of poor, underprivileged people are most vulnerable during this time and one non-profit organisation, Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA) has stepped up in support.
People who are homeless or daily wage earners who have lost jobs, have been unable to procure basic food and other essential items. With a city like Mumbai, there are several households who are surviving on little or no food. Over the past few days, YUVA has been reaching out to low-income and vulnerable communities, to understand the situation and offer support. They have rapidly assessed over 20 settlements across 4 cities in the Greater Mumbai area – Vasai Virar, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Panvel, covering more than 1,500 families and revealed that some communities are in dire need of support.
Some groups that were already vulnerable, such as the homeless and individuals from disadvantaged communities, are almost on the brink of starvation. Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) centres or anganwadis, where children between the age of 0-6 years are provided basic nutrition have stopped daily food supplies in many areas. With schools being closed for the last few days, mid day meals for such children have also stopped.
YUVA’s early assessment of the situation has helped identify the needs of such communities and they have in turn launched a campaign, ‘Together We Can’, to raise funds and support in the form of food grains, offering emergency relief to the urban poor. They have started this support giving priority to the most marginalised families first, which have been identified through a rigorous process.
YUVA has now been providing families with a basic food kit in quantities meant for a week’s worth of ration per package. This package costs Rs600 and includes 5kg rice, 2kg wheat flour, 2kg dal, 1 litre cooking oil and soap. They has already distributed basic provisions to 200 homeless families, comprising more than 1,000 individual and are continuing this support each day only through donations made in support of this campaign.
The organisation has also maintained their advocacy efforts with the government to take forward demands of these vulnerable communities. YUVA has submitted an unequivocal list of demands to the Government of Maharashtra, in light of work and sources of income being impacted, closure of schools and ICDS centres, and forced eviction notices being sent to informal settlements. Their demands include a relief fund for daily wage workers, ensuring steady supply of take-home rations and much more.
YUVA’s fundraising efforts are ongoing and they are currently accepting support in the form of cash and essential items (food grains and non-perishable foods only).
Moneylife Foundation would be joining this effort to help spread the message and allow its members, who are concerned about the plight of those who have lost their livelihoods to donate to the cause. Moneylife Foundation is also working to source supplies and connecting with other leading corporate NGOs to streamline the process.
Although we expect the government of India to step forward and take care of the lowest end of the pyramid, it will probably take time for direct benefit transfer or the increased supply of food through the public distribution system to be ramped up in a crisis. The need is to help out until the government machinery starts functioning and to plug any remaining gaps later.
We will keep you updated about other ways in which you can donate.
To support the campaign monetarily, please follow the following steps –
1. As an Indian national you can donate to:
Payee Name: Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA) FCRA
Bank: Axis Bank Savings Account
Branch: Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra
Account no.: 911010054680968
IFSC code: UTIB0000489
Send a screenshot of the payment you have made through WhatsApp on +91 9830795695 or +91 9167723237. You can also send a Direct Message (DM) to their social media handles on Twitter
. This will allow them to confirm and send an acknowledgment receipt.
3. On receiving confirmation you shall be sent a separate donor form to fill as YUVA needs some basic mandatory details to remain transparent in their financial reporting.