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The spread of coronavirus represents the global health crisis of our time and, like you, I find myself having to manage an unprecedented and constantly changing situation.
Job insecurity, cancelled plans and, most importantly, concern about our loved ones and those with underlying health conditions means that we are all struggling. I sincerely hope that you are able to access the support you need to stay well and to protect yourself and others during this time.
As I write, India and Nepal have gone into lockdown. As a charity that works with the poorest and most marginalised communities there, I feel deeply concerned for their health and wellbeing. These communities, among the most vulnerable anywhere in the world, will be strongly affected by this global crisis. Lower standards of healthcare, education and inescapably close proximity to others will be among some of the main factors that will make containing the virus in India and Nepal incredibly challenging.
Right now the generosity from our supporters and community means more than ever, and will be crucial in the weeks and months to come. I’d like to give an update about how the situation is affecting Karuna and I hope to provide more updates in the future as we know more.
As you may have heard, India and Nepal have now gone into complete lockdown, leaving millions of daily wage labourers in an extremely precarious position; many now have no income and no access to even the most basic healthcare facilities or health advice. For the millions in poverty living hand-to-mouth daily, the next meal for their family and themselves is uncertain.
We and our partners have been quick to see the urgent need and respond in effect:
In Madhya Pradesh we are working to help more than 100,000 migrant construction workers who have been laid off to access emergency Government welfare.
In Bihar our project workers have been going from village to village distributing basic sanitation kits and information about sanitation. Following the lockdown health advice will be provided remotely.
In Maharashtra two of our hostels have been made available to the government for those who have the virus and need to be isolated whilst they recover.
In Pune as soon as the lockdown permits we are planning to distribute emergency food rations to daily wage labourers who have lost their livelihoods.
In Southern Nepal we have been carrying out health awareness campaigns through women’s groups and networks of local health visitors. Following the lockdown these will be continued remotely via online communication.
In West Bengal the markets in rural areas have closed and people are facing shortages of food and safe drinking water. We have launched a phone-based health awareness campaign advising village leaders on virus prevention.
Details as to how precisely all of our projects are being affected are still coming in and changing by the day. As the crisis deepens the changing needs will become apparent and we will reallocate funds as necessary.
In order to meet this crisis properly, we are launching an urgent appeal – our biggest ever. If you are in a position to make a donation to help us support those most affected by this crisis, please visit our website:
PS. Please, please, please share the appeal with everyone in your network.