The community on the frontlines of fighting COVID

by SAHF Team

India: Community and Faith based Organizations at the Forefront of the Battle Against Coronavirus Pandemic

India responded swiftly and decisively to the Coronavirus pandemic and had instituted an unprecedented nationwide lock down on March 24 2020. As of Apr 27 there were less than 21,000 active cases and less than 900 deaths due to Covid-19. These numbers are significantly less than most other countries which did not act as swiftly and comprehensively, suggesting that the lock down has been effective at controlling the spread of the infection.

The lock down in India has entailed a closure of all non-essential businesses, complete seizure of rail and air transport and also most road transportation. While the state machinery has done its part, the lock down would not have been as successful without extensive participation of a large number of community organization. In this article we highlight a few among the larger efforts for large scale distribution of food and other relief items by faith-based organizations. These efforts are in start contrast with the unfortunate incidences of religious bias in distribution of charity in Pakistan.

Our team has compiled efforts by four major NGOs – Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) inspired Seva Bharati, Art of Living Foundation inspired International Association for Human Values, International Society for Krishna Consciousness inspired Akshay Patra and BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. They are serving grocery kits and prepared food; running community kitchens, sanitization projects and blood donation camps; distributing medicines, masks, cleaning and animal care supplies; providing accommodation to needy, helping senior citizens and serving law enforcement officers. This list is far from complete and we encourage our readers to provide information on other organizations.

Among these organizations, RSS is probably the largest with over 342k+ volunteers working at 67k+ locations in India providing 25+ different services to millions of people. As of this writing(May 2), RSS has distributed over 3,17,12,767 meal packets and 44,54,555 masks.

Following are a few snapshots of the relief efforts by these organizations:

Assam: RSS volunteers distributed food materials to 14,513 families, in 410 villages. 756 volunteers are working day & night to provide food materials to the poor & needy families. Twitter source: @friendsofrss

In collaboration with Surat Municipal Corporation, RSS volunteers prepared grocery kits for distribution to lockdown affected needy families across the City. Twitter source:@friendsofrss

RSS volunteers engaged in disinfecting services across towns. Twitter source:@friendsofrss

RSS volunteers delivering medicines from Chemist shop to patients in need. Twitter source:@friendsofrss

RSS volunteers are preparing food for distribution in one of the community kitchen. Twitter source:@friendsofrss

RSS Kerala branch activities. Twitter source:@friendsofrss

RSS volunteers serving animals at forsake tourist places. Twitter source:@friendsofrss

Activities of RSS volunteers serving Mumbai city. Twitter source:@friendsofrss

In collaboration with RSS, women are making face masks for distribution to needy people in Kasravad, Madhya Pradesh. Twitter source:@friendsofrss

RSS volunteers distributed grocery kits to needy families. Twitter source:@friendsofrss

IAHV/Art of living efforts as of 19th April, 2020. Twitter source:@ArtofLiving @iahv

CUTTACK, ODISHA: Art of Living volunteers in Sri Sri University packed and distributed the 70 tons of relief materials received from iahv to the underprivileged in the area. Twitter source:@ArtofLiving @iahv

The AkshayaPatra Foundation, which supplies mid-day meals to students, is now supplying food items to families impacted by the lockdown.

Akshaypatra in collaboration of embassy group distributing grocery kits. Twitter source: @Akshaya_Patra

Twitter source: @IskconInc

BAPS Community Services During the Coronavirus Lockdown, Atladara. Twitter source: @baps

BAPS Community Services During the Coronavirus Lockdown, Atladara. Twitter source: @baps

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