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Indian Soroptimists’ Response to Covid-19

As aThe Covid-19 pandemic has affected every person in the world in more than one way. Acute food shortages are being experienced in several places; and people who have been most exposed to the risk include daily wage earners who continue to face financial difficulties; women and girls who are facing the heightened risks of domestic and other forms of violence; frontline health care workers, who are mostly women, are having to work under difficult circumstances and many governments have miserably failed to provide them with adequate safety measures and proper health care infrastructures. Demand for masks and PPEs seem to be continuously rising.
Soroptimist Clubs across India have risen to the occasion and have tried to tackle some of the above problems by implementing programmes which reach out to the needy. All of these projects conform to the norm of social distancing. Below is a list of these programmes:
1. SI Bombay Chembur has donated funds to an outreach programme organised by Don Bosco in Nerul, in Navi Mumbai, which is aimed at providing daily supplies and medicines to migrant workers.
2. SI Calcutta has collaborated with Vivekananda Adarsha Milan Mandir, which is an NGO working in slum areas, and has donated Rs. 15,000 to them to help with distribution of dry food ration packets to the slum dwellers they work with.
3. SI Chennai Downtown implemented an unique programme through which they employed 20 women to stitch over 1000 masks (thus providing them with a means of subsistence), and distributed these hand made masks to police men patrolling the city during the lockdown, from different police stations.
4. SI Bangalore has commenced project ‘GARIMA’. They have identified several women making masks, and have acquired such 1000 hand made masks, which they have distributed to the needy, along with soap and hand sanitiser. The project focuses on women empowerment alongside helping needy communities. They have also collaborated with Parikram Foundation, thereby making 15 rounds of distribution of dry rations so far, catering to more than 275 families living in the in Koramangala slums. In addition to the above, dry rations have also been distributed to a settlement of 55 Rohingya Muslim refugee families, thereby securing the nutrition of more than 1900 people for a week.
5. SI Whitefield has supported Dream India Network, an initiative of the Archdiocese of Bangalore, in providing cooked meals, raw rations and personal hygiene products to daily wage earners, migrant labourers, construction workers, etc. The Club has donated Rs. 10,900 towards this initiative.
6. SI Burdwan has distributed dry rations (rice, pulses, cooking oil and soyabean) to 115 poor indigenous families in Korapara slum area. The ration packs were dropped off at the doors of each family by two volunteers, maintaining social distance. A bulk of the money required for this project was personally donated by the Club’s President, Ms. Amita Nandi Mitra (she contributed Rs. 10,000).
7. SI Chennai has supported an initiative of the The National Association of the Blind (NAB), an organisation working for the Visually Impaired through their programme “Smile” in Pallavaram. They deliver Rs 500 worth of rations to visually impaired vendors who usually sell wares in the local trains in and around Chennai, and currently have no source of income due to the ongoing lockdown. SI Chennai has contributed Rs. 10,000 towards this programme.
Further, the club has also supported an appeal from Eco-Kitchen, an organisation which is supplying food to the stranded and the healthcare workers at COVID facilities. Eco-Kitchen strives to make 5000 meals a day and sustains with help from donors. SI Chennai has made another contribution of Rs. 10,000 towards this programme. In addition to the above, members of the Club have also supplied essential food commodities to the women working in the Club’s tailoring facility, who are now trying to sustain themselves by stitching masks, and most of whose husbands are daily wage labourers.
8. SI Purba Bardhaman (Proposed Club, yet to receive its Charter from SIGBI): The Club is involved in a project called ‘Protyasha’ (which means hope), where they provide education to children living in slums, and helping these children has been an active programme of the Club  in response to the Covid-19 crises. By distributing masks, food rations and other essential items, the Club has responded to the requirements of these children as well as other needy elderly women.