The spread of the dreaded Corona virus world over has affected everyone of us. The quick actions by our Central Government and all the State Governments have so far had good impact on limiting the spread of the virus. But we have a long journey of combat ahead and a lot more needs to be done by all of us at this hour of grief and catastrophe to control and defeat the spread of the virus. Self-discipline and adherence to the governments’ instructions from time to time is the need of the hour and social distancing is one of them.Due to the COVID-19 crisis, people with disabilities are not allowed to access these services and are especially at risk for a number of reasons:
- Distancing is not an option for many as they rely on others including personal support workers and caregivers to support their needs including movement, bathing, feeding.
- Their physical condition and medical comorbidities put them at higher risk of developing the severe complications of COVID-19.
- Information on COVID-19 infection prevention strategies focused on the needs of people with disabilities are not being disseminated through media or other sources.
- Due to COVID-19 restriction, many people with disabilities who operated small businesses or other informal livelihood ventures (ie home cell phone repair or machine repair shops, selling goods, etc.) are unable to work and there is a significant loss of income, which is not compensated by government programs.
- Country wide lockdown which places restriction on movement within the community (including bus travel) and lack of income prevents them from acquiring needed protective material including face masks, hand sanitizers and hand wash. Acquiring these materials is particularly important for people with disabilities as many are in direct physical contact with caregivers and support workers. In addition, COVID-19 rules surrounding restriction of movement within the community affects people with mobility issues even more, creating another barrier to obtaining these materials. Government programs provide basic needs including rice and grains, but not protective material.
As far as campus based initiatives are concerned, there is a total lockdown and we have enforced strict rules and evolved strong procedures. We do not allow any visitors during the lockdown period and in dire cases of necessity, they can check in only after sanitizing themselves; they have also to take bath at a specified place and use dried clothes washed within the campus after checking in. All the inmates are wearing masks as a precautionary measure and keep safe distance among each other. All non-essential staff are given leave of absence with a fervent appeal to take total care of themselves.Amar Seva Sangam has devised an innovative plan to address this crisis. Amar Seva Sangam can mobilize a cadre of 38 community workers who can:
- Prepare and provide urgent relief materials to people with disabilities. They will prepare COVID-19 relief kit. Each kit will include 200ml hand sanitizer, 400ml hand wash and 10 face masks.
- Provide direct education to people with disabilities and their families on how to protect themselves against COVID-19 during visits when they hand out kits. They will also provide an educational handout on COVID-19 prevention strategies focused on people with disabilities.
- Connect people with disabilities with available community resources which are difficult to access during this period of lockdown including pharmacies, medical clinics and assistive equipment providers.
Special permission will be obtained from the local authorities for travel of our community workers to deliver these kits and providing education. In total, we will reach 1500 people with disabilities and their families and provide new kits every 10 days. Over a 90 day period, we will require 9000 kits. Each kit will cost about INR 97/- Funding is also needed to pay for the salaries of the community workers for the 3 months. INR 27 Lakhs will help cover the expenses of this 3 month COVID-19 relief program for this very vulnerable population.Amar Seva Sangam will overcome, India will overcome and all nations will overcome this calamity! Sangam urges all of you to be safe and God Bless us all.