- ASDMA has established a volunteer force called Pratirodhi Bandhu
- 14,000 locals in Assam have become Pratirodhi Bandhu (resistant friend)
- The volunteer group helps the administration in community mobilisation
New Delhi: 30-year-old Dharmendra Sarma from Assam works as a rural service distributor with BSNL. During the lockdown, Mr Sarma is working with the government, creating awareness among people about social distancing. Along with ensuring people adhere to social distancing norms in a rural market in Bijoynagar, 35 km west of Guwahati, Mr Sarma distributes sanitisers in the localities and urges people to wear masks.
The nation has been reeling under lockdown for over two months now. Throughout the lockdown, it’s the frontline warriors including police officials and healthcare professionals that have ensured that the fellow countrymen aren’t deprived of anything. In order to bridge the gap between the rural community and the administration, Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) has built a volunteer force called Pratirodhi Bandhu (resistant friend).
14,000 people in the state have enrolled for rendering their free service to build a community driven resistance movement against the spread of the virus. The role of the volunteers is to ensure people adhere to the social distancing norms and follow other precautionary and preventive measures like wearing a mask while venturing out, washing hands.
We are working at the macro level. We reach out to people and tell them the do’s and don’ts to prevent COVID-19, said Mr Sarma.
Pranjit Kalita, one of the volunteers at Pratirodhi Bandhu, who has been going out on awareness drives said,
COVID-19 is a new disease and because of lack of education, villagers are ignorant. Our focus is to reach out to them and explain the disaster; how they can carry on with their life while adhering to COVID norms.
In order to ensure volunteers are passing on the right information about different aspects of the Coronavirus, experts at ASDMA give online training to the volunteers. ASDMA the brain behind the voluntary group claims it to be a unique initiative. Talking about the initiative, Pankaj Chakravarty, ASDMA, Project Coordinator said,
The main aim and objective of this programme is community mobilisation and address the non-medical response needs. Through Pratirodhi Bandhu, we aim to extend psychological support during this lockdown period. For the same, UNICEF is our training partner.
The initiative has also found an ambassador – Olympian-boxer Shiva Thapa who has enrolled as a volunteer. In a video, he was seen calling himself Pratirodhi Bandhu (friend at a time of a disaster) called to fight against Coronavirus.