Many poor families are going hungry due to this massive lock-down. Many have reduced their food to just eating 'rice-kanji-(water)'. Our local volunteers are identifying these families and supplying them food provisions for a week.
Today our team provided food provisions for a week to 143 poor families that were going hungry. Totally so far since the lock-down, we have now provided food provisions to 621 families.
Our Strategy: The scale of this lock-down disaster is huge. Govt must supply rations to everyone in all poor communities. But as a small organization with limited resources, we cannot do that. So we focus on reaching the poorest who need immediate help. Our strategy is to NOT SUPPLY food provisions to entire communities at one time. Though most of are poor, many have food for a few days and will hopefully get Govt rations soon.
But within each village or slum, there are 5-10 families that are going without food right now. We identify them and supply food provisions for a week. We realize that during this long lock-down, others in the community may also soon start going hungry. So our volunteers will keep checking on the entire community and arrange food support as the need arises.
Today our team provided food provisions to:
* 12 Irular Families in Pallancheri: This is a very poor community of tribals. Even in regular times they never have enough for 3 meals a day. A month ago, I visited these families to see the houses we had constructed. We were slowly getting them out of poverty. Now with this lockdown, even the meagre labor jobs they had are no longer available. Our volunteer Gajapathi just supplied them food provisions for 2 weeks. After this corona lock-down is over, we will have to work on rebuilding their lives.
* 20 tribal families in villages near Nagapatinam: 10 Boom Boom Matukarar families in Thiruthiraipoondi and 10 poor families in Srivanjiyan. With lack of income, these families had shifted to just eating 'rice kanji' once a day. We have now supplied a week's provision through Vanavil volunteers and hopefully they will now be able to go back to eating regularly till the Govt rations begin to reach them.
* 41 poor families in 6 villages in Tiruporur: We run free tuition centers for children in many villages here. Our tuition teachers from each village identified families that were going hungry because they couldn't get their usual manual labor jobs due to this lockdown. Our team has now provided each family with a week's food provisions. Our teachers will keep a watch to see if they still need food support after a week. (Over the last two days, with support from Thoon, we also provided provisions to 117 families in other villages nearby).
* 10 Kuravar families in Sakkotai: Our volunteer Mala coordinates our free tuition centers in villages near Karaikudi. Through our village tuition teachers we identified the poorest in each village who have been going hungry. Our team has now supplied food provisions to 10 families today and will be reaching out to the others in the next couple of days.
* 20 families with disabled people in Chennai: Through our volunteer Mano who works with disabled people, we supplied food provisions for a week to 20 very poor families with disabled people. (She has identified 20 more families and I just sent her more funds to buy provisions for them.)
* 30 families of auto drivers in Taramani: Due to the lock down, these auto drivers are not earning any income. Our volunteer Vanaja supplied them provisions for a week.
* 10 families in Koturpuram slum: Our volunteer Kalai lives in a slum in Koturpuram. She identified 10 families that urgently needed food support and today we provided provisions to them.
* Day before, we had provided 100 migrant workers in Kannathur with food provisions for a week. One of the volunteers informed the collector and he sent the Tasildar to meet them. Hopefully Govt will now start providing them food. Today we also reached out to several other groups of migrant workers in and around Chennai. Luckily, the Govt has just started supplying them food, so we told them to contact us in case of any emergency.
* Our team has also been reaching out to poor families and homeless women in Orissa. I will report on that separately tomorrow. We have also started identifying families who need food support in Srikakulam (Andhra Pradesh).
* We have also arranged protective equipment (N95 masks, gloves, etc) to doctors and nurses at Stanley Govt Hospital. We are ordered more masks (3 ply masks) to provide to other hospital and medical staff and conservancy workers.
Govt is trying to reach as many people as they can using their machinery. But there are large gaps and the poorest are the ones who are left out. Some of them, particularly many tribal families and migrant workers, don't even have the documents needed to access Govt support. There is a need to keep looking out for families that are going hungry and immediately provide them with food supplies.