Coronavirus Lockdown: This NGO Feeds Meals, Provides Essentials To Forest Dwellers In Sundarbans

Coronavirus Lockdown: This NGO Feeds Meals, Provides Essentials To Forest Dwellers In Sundarbans

NGO SOUL distributes cooked foods and sanitary items to tribal people of Sundarbans and daily wage earners in Kolkata who are struggling to survive during the COVID-19 lockdown
Coronavirus Lockdown: This NGO Feeds Meals, Provides Essentials To Forest Dwellers In SundarbansWith an aim to provide immediate relief to the poor and needy who have been impacted the most by the COVID-19 lockdown, this Kolkata based NGO is distributing food and essential items to tribal families in Sundarbans
Highlights
  • NGO SOUL is trying to address hunger among tribal during COVID-19 lockdown
  • It is supporting tribal households with items like soaps, face masks
  • It is raising awareness among the tribal people about COVID-19

New Delhi: Since the nation-wide lockdown began on March 24, lives of the 800 people of Savar tribal community in the remote delta of Sundarbans, West Bengal have been in a state of confusion. The community that depends primarily on forests for food and collecting honey, fruits and timber for earning a livelihood was being forced to restrict its movement. With the loss of incomes and depleted savings, they had no option but to depend on the government agencies and NGOs for food and items of daily use. With an aim to provide relief to tribal communities and help them cope with the current crisis, SOUL, a non-profit charitable trust came forward with its ‘LunchBox For Hungers’ programmes. Under this programme, the NGO distributed free cooked foods, dry ration and sanitary items to the tribe. Subhankar Banerjee, one of the founders of SOUL said,

I along with some of my friends, all corporate professionals, established SOUL- Source Of Unconditional Love as non-profit charitable trust in 2015 with an aim to improve the lives of indigenous people of Sundarbans. During the current COVID-19, we have taken up the responsibility of about 800 people from 157 households of Savar community. These communities have lifestyles linked strongly to forests, sustaining themselves primarily through forest produce collection and seasonal employment in farms. The livelihood and life-sustaining activities have come to an abrupt halt due to the lockdown.

Also Read: Staying Hygienic Cuts Down The Use Of Antibiotics: Study

How Has The COVID-19 Lockdown Affected The Savar Community?

Savar community lives in the remotest part of South 24 Parganas in the deltas of Sundarbans. There is no road connectivity and there is just barebone infrastructure like a school, a community healthcare centre, a community toilet and small ‘haat’ (local market). There is not even a single person of the community who is literate or ever employed in some informal or formal jobs. Solely dependent on forest produce, crab catching and farm employment for earning a livelihood, the whole community that has 221 children, 310 men and 225 women has lost its source of income. Jyotsna Bhakat, 30-year-old tribal woman who has a family of seven to feed says,

At this point, we don’t have money to buy even soap for washing hands. We have some rice but no vegetables to cook. We are not able to go into the forest to collect vegetables or fruits and some of us who are dependent on honey collection will have to bear a great loss. We have nothing to sell now. We cannot go to the market.

The tribal people do get monthly ration via the Public Distribution System (PDS) but it comprises only rice and wheat and does not suffice daily food and nutrition needs. According to Mr. Banerjee, malnutrition is a major problem in this community. He says,

We conducted a survey earlier this year and found that about 42 per cent of the children are malnourished. We had recently started a program to focus on improving the condition of the malnourished children and raise awareness among the adults on nutrition and health but due to social distancing norms we had to halt our various activities and focus only on helping the community cope with the current crisis.

There are many men in the community who are suffering from dermatological diseases in their abdomen and legs which they caught while crab catching in the muddy and saline waters of the delta but because of the lockdown they are unable to get any medical attention. Mr. Banerjee says,

There is a community health centre in the village but specialists like a dermatologist rarely pays a visit. Also, a lot of the times, the community itself doesn’t like to go to the hospital as they believe in the healing power of nature and practice herbal medicine and naturopathy.

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The village gets visited by ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers and ANM (Auxiliary Nurse Midwifery) who are assigned by the district officials but since the lockdown has begun, there have been no visits from them either.

According to Mr. Banerjee, the charitable trust has established an ‘Ashram’ in Sattyadaspur village in South 24 Parganas where Sundarbans is located. About 150 children of Savar tribal community from this village are being mentored in the ‘Ashram’. While there are schools in the area, the indigenous people do not utilise these facilities as they believe that formal education does not teach hunting, gathering and farming. Therefore, SOUL’s ‘Ashram’ acts as a learning centre for these children. With a teaching staff of three members, two cleaning staff and a gardener, the ‘Ashram’ operates on the principles of Swami Vivekananda and the curriculum is designed in line with that followed in schools run by the Ramkrishna Mission and tribal learnings of nature. However, due to the lockdown, the ‘Ashram’ is closed and so is learning of the children. Mr. Banerjee said,

We at SOUL are primarily focussing on the children of tribal communities. This is because the adults are used to live in the way that they have been living since many generations. So they are absolutely not interested in connecting with the civilised world or learning their ways. Children, however, are more flexible and quick learners. We are trying to inculcate habits like handwashing and using toilets. They go back home and insist their parents and other family members also follow the same. Only a few households have a ‘pucca’ toilet at home while others have insanitary latrines.

Pallavi Sena, a teacher at SOUL’s ‘Ashram’ shared that the kitchen of the building is being used to cook food for the community and is being distributed with the help of the local volunteers. She shares,

Children in the community are like free birds and do not like to follow rules and regulations. I face difficulty in keeping them in control but we have to work hard to help these kids have a better future. I wish they can learn and join a real school and earn a better living. From the time the Ashram started, we have been mentoring about 150 children and out of these one of our female students has been accepted in a government school in Class 9 which is a great achievement for us. We are hoping to fill the learning gap for others as well. I wish that the COVID-19 pandemic gets over soon and we can get back to our normal routine so that the kids can continue their studies.

Also Read: Kolkata Firm Develops Coronavirus Test Kit Costing Rs. 500

SOUL is also raising awareness among the tribals on COVID-19 and various government guidelines on protecting oneself from catching the coronavirus. Mr. Banerjee said,

Indigenous people need medical attention especially the elderlies as they are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. There has been no COVID-19 case as of now. Illiteracy, language barrier and lack of access to technology cause restrictions in relief measures.

Dr. P Ulaganathan, District Magistrate of South 24 Parganas told NDTV that the district administration has set up a relief camp for those in need but it is difficult to reach out to the remote areas and so they appreciate NGOs coming forward to help the administration in the relief work. He said,

We are ensuring that each person who is above the age of 60 years is getting their pensions in advance. We are also trying to conduct their medical check-up. The government is providing ration to them. But I would like to mention that tribals are difficult lot to reach out to considering the remoteness of their villages and the aloofness that they are used to. In this scenario, handholding by NGOs plays an extremely important role since they build trust by being with them as their own. We have been supporting SOUL in its work and we appreciate that they are at the forefront and taking care of the tribals in the Sundaban areas.

The relief efforts of the NGO are being financially supported by West Bengal Police, Panchayati Raj Department and Tally Solutions Private Limited, an Indian multinational company. The NGO is also feeding migrant labourers and daily wagers in Kolkata and outskirts and has distributed more than 6,000 meals since the beginning of the lockdown.

Also Read: Swasth Report Of West Bengal: Anaemia In Women And Children Needs Attention

World

2,02,84,269Cases
69,57,851Active
1,25,85,308Recovered
7,41,110Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 188 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 2,02,84,269 and 7,41,110 have died; 69,57,851 are active cases and 1,25,85,308 have recovered as on August 12, 2020 at 4:13 am.

India

23,29,638 60963Cases
6,43,948 4019Active
16,39,599 56110Recovered
46,091 834Deaths
In India, there are 23,29,638 confirmed cases including 46,091 deaths. The number of active cases is 6,43,948 and 16,39,599 have recovered as on August 12, 2020 at 2:30 am.

State & District Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
DistrictCases
Akola757
Aurangabad1974
Dhule228
Jalgaon1039
Mumbai45478
Mumbai Suburban5363
Nagpur692
Nashik1575
Palghar1421
Pune9920
Satara629
Solapur1291
Thane13660
Yavatmal150
Ahmednagar190
Amravati291
Beed54
Bhandara41
Buldhana88
Chandrapur32
Hingoli208
Jalna201
Kolhapur646
Latur139
Nanded176
Nandurbar42
Parbhani78
Raigad1462
Ratnagiri350
Sangli145
Gadchiroli42
gondia69
Osmanabad125
Sindhudurg114
Wardha11
Washim13

535601 11088

148860 818

368435 10014

18306 256

DistrictCases
Chittoor319
Guntur511
Krishna557
Kurnool795
Sri Potti Sriramulu Nell*296
Anantapur428
East Godavari356
Prakasam104
Srikakulam183
Visakhapatnam103
West Godavari199
Y.S.R.205
Vizianagaram23

244549 9024

87597

154749 9113

2203 87

DistrictCases
Bengaluru Rural40
Bengaluru Urban529
Mysuru107
Bagalkote103
Ballari60
Belagavi337
Bidar219
Chikkaballapura149
Dakshina Kannada179
Dharwad61
Gadag45
Kalaburagi669
Mandya346
Tumakuru36
Uttara Kannada95
Vijayapura201
Chamarajanagara0
Chikkamagaluru19
Chitradurga14
Davangere204
Hassan205
Haveri24
Kodagu4
Kolar29
Koppal5
Raichur369
Ramanagara3
Shivamogga67
Udupi1176
Yadgir538

188611 6257

79614

105599 6473

3398 86

DistrictCases
North Goa57
South Goa69

9444 415

2878 137

6480 272

86 6

DistrictCases
Chengalpattu1314
Chennai23324
Kanchipuram503
Madurai322
Namakkal83
Ranipet133
Thanjavur130
Thiruvallur774
Thiruvarur67
Tiruppur116
Vellore71
Virudhunagar185
Ariyalur444
Coimbatore188
Cuddalore477
Dharmapuri15
Dindigul175
Erode75
Kallakurichi324
Kanniyakumari110
Karur88
Nagapattinam99
Perambalur133
Pudukkottai53
Ramanathapuram119
Salem258
Sivaganga46
Tenkasi103
The Nilgiris17
Theni129
Tiruchirappalli119
Tirunelveli433
Tirupathur45
Tiruvannamalai496
Tuticorin333
Villupuram509
Krishnagiri43

308649 5834

52810

250680 6005

5159 118

DistrictCases
Kannur357
Kottayam73
Alappuzha76
Idukki40
Kasaragod333
Kollam118
Kozhikode90
Malappuram119
Palakkad224
Pathanamthitta98
Thiruvananthapuram104
Thrissur106
Ernakulam60
Wayanad36

36932 1417

12770

24042 1426

120 5

DistrictCases
Raipur46
Korba100
Balod41
Baloda Bazar85
Balrampur17
Bastar2
Bemetara21
Bijapur2
Bilaspur100
Dantewada0
Dhamtari6
Durg31
Gariyaband10
Janjgir-Champa56
Jashpur77
Kabirdham52
Kanker19
Kondagaon0
Korea39
Mahasamund54
Mungeli87
Narayanpur0
Raigarh47
Rajnandgaon52
Sukma0
Surajpur9
Surguja14

12929 481

3586 250

9239 226

104 5

DistrictCases
Hyderabad2475
MedchalMalkajgiri75
Ranga Reddy183
Suryapet87
Vikarabad40
Warangal Urban32
Adilabad22
Jagitial77
Jangoan8
Jayashankar Bhupalapally9
Jogulamba Gadwal40
Kamareddy11
Karimnagar17
Khammam26
Kumuram Bheem Asifabad8
Mahabubnagar30
Mancherial43
Medak11
Nalgonda33
Narayanpet3
Nirmal21
Nizamabad76
RajannaSircilla16
Sangareddy26
Bhadradri Kothagudem5
Mahabubabad10
Mulugu3
Nagarkurnool8
Peddapalli5
Siddipet7
Wanaparthy1
Warangal Rural4
YadadriBhuvanagiri40

84544 1897

22596

61294 1920

654 9

DistrictCases
Baleshwar190
Bhadrak137
Jajapur322
Dhenkanal36
Kalahandi33
Kendrapara164
Khordha238
Koraput16
Sundargarh102
Anugul26
Balangir129
Bargarh16
Boudh34
Cuttack155
Deogarh33
Gajapati61
Ganjam581
Jagatsinghapur91
Jharsuguda8
Kandhamal28
Kendujhar34
Malkangiri20
Mayurbhanj73
Nabarangpur2
Nayagarh86
Nuapada69
Puri103
Rayagada2
Sambalpur16
Sonepur29

48796 1341

13694

34806 1785

296 10

DistrictCases
Barwani60
Bhopal1880
Dewas140
Dhar132
East Nimar266
Gwalior211
Indore3839
Jabalpur276
Ujjain799
Agar Malwa15
Alirajpur3
Betul35
Burhanpur351
Chhindwara16
Dindori29
Harda4
Hoshangabad37
Khargone196
Mandsaur112
Morena109
Raisen71
Ratlam51
Sagar228
Shajapur39
Shandol14
Sheopur26
Tikamgarh18
Vidisha37
Anuppur22
Ashoknagar13
Balaghat9
Bhind87
Chhatarpur35
Damoh26
Datia12
Guna8
Jhabua14
Katni3
Mandla15
Narsinghpur17
Neemuch319
Niwari0
Panna20
Rajgarh31
Rewa39
Satna24
Sehore12
Seoni2
Shivpuri15
Sidhi17
Singrauli13
Umaria10

40734 843

9105

30596 922

1033 18

DistrictCases
Ahmadabad17125
Anand107
Arvalli134
Banas Kantha147
Bhavnagar146
Gandhinagar410
PanchMahals107
Surat2311
Vadodara1555
Bharuch56
Botad55
Chhotaudepur37
Dang5
Dohad43
GirSomnath45
Jamnagar63
Kachchh99
Kheda98
Mahesana159
Mahisagar125
Narmada25
Naysari35
Patan105
Rajkot135
SabarKantha101
Surendranagar55
Tapi6
Valsad47
Amreli16
DevbhumiDwarka22
Junagadh31
Morbi4
Porbandar11

73163 1132

14024

56444 1140

2695 23

DistrictCases
Ajmer379
Banswara91
Bharatpur563
Jaipur2177
Jhalawar329
Jodhpur1748
Kota503
Nagaur500
Alwar90
Barmer34
Bhilwara250
Bikaner112
Chittorgarh188
Churu81
Dausa61
Dholpur60
Dungarpur374
Hanumangarh31
Jaisalmer53
Jhunjhunu64
Karauli17
Pali352
Rajsamand140
SawaiMadhopur26
Sikar231
Tonk171
Udaipur724
Baran59
Bundi5
Ganganagar8
Jalore164
Pratapgarh14
Sirohi130

54887 1217

13677

40399 1339

811 11

DistrictCases
Faridabad867
Sonipat404
Ambala93
Bhiwani60
CharkiDadri43
Fatehabad38
Gurugram2950
Hisar98
Jhajjar114
Jind38
Kaithal48
Karnal104
Kurukshetra55
Nuh68
Palwal120
Panchkula39
Panipat78
Rohtak145
Sirsa50
Yamunanagar19
Mahendragarh47
Rewari56

43227 798

6645 197

36082 590

500 11

DistrictCases
Agra933
Aligarh215
Amroha80
Bareilly17
Bijnor157
Bulandshahr166
Firozabad190
Gautam Buddha Nagar1119
Kanpur Nagar286
Lucknow386
Mathura129
Meerut504
Moradabad252
Muzaffarnagar117
Rae Bareli78
Rampur203
Saharanpur298
Sant Kabeer Nagar132
Varanasi243
Auraiya37
Ayodhya120
Azamgarh138
Baghpat68
Bahraich73
Balrampur49
Banda27
Basti214
Bhadohi60
Budaun23
Etah52
Etawah46
Ghaziabad794
Ghazipur159
Gonda59
Gorakhpur166
Hapur225
Hardoi49
Jalaun41
Jaunpur194
Jhansi41
Kannauj69
Kasganj16
Kaushambi6
Mainpuri46
Mau48
Mirzapur22
Pilibhit15
Pratapgarh15
Prayagraj30
Sambhal116
Shamli40
Shravasti23
Sitapur32
Sultanpur97
Unnao42
Ambedkar Nagar92
Amethi206
Ballia60
Barabanki168
Chandauli38
Chitrakoot4
Deoria143
Farrukhabad36
Fatehpur3
Hamirpur3
Hathras43
Kanpur Dehat4
Kheri72
Kushi Nagar67
Lalitpur3
Maharajganj85
Mahoba3
Shahjahanpur25
Siddharth Nagar159
Sonbhadra10

131763 5041

48998 1120

80589 3865

2176 56

DistrictCases
Central4817
East2472
New Delhi3405
North3059
North East1914
North West5463
Shahdara1580
South2329
South East2446
South West2391
West4768

147391 1257

10868 522

132384 727

4139 8

DistrictCases
Dhubri30
Goalpara19
Marigaon50
Baksa14
Barpeta28
Biswanath16
Bongaigaon12
Cachar80
Charaideo29
Chirang6
Darrang20
Dhemaji47
Dibrugarh61
Dima Hasao86
Golaghat203
Hailakandi57
Hojai89
Jorhat24
Kamrup42
Kamrup Metro276
KarbiAnglong13
Karimganj85
Kokrajhar37
Lakhimpur57
Majuli2
Nagaon143
Nalbari23
Sivasagar20
Sonitpur27
South SalmaraMancachar4
Tinsukia84
Udalguri28
West KarbiAnglong5

64406 2669

19178 1178

45073 1487

155 4

DistrictCases
East District3
North District0
South District3
West District0

913 3

378

534 24

1

DistrictCases
Buxar134
Gaya115
Munger188
Patna279
Rohtas256
Arwal52
Aurangabad75
Banka134
Begusarai243
Bhagalpur266
Bhojpur103
Darbhanga143
Gopalganj123
Jehanabad178
Kaimur (bhabua)105
Lakhisarai72
Madhepura82
Madhubani199
Nalanda123
Nawada122
PurbiChamparan138
Purnia135
Saran101
Siwan139
Vaishali87
Araria68
Jamui47
Katihar175
Khagaria253
Kishanganj75
Muzaffarpur96
Pashchim Champaran57
Saharsa88
Samastipur139
Sheikhpura118
Sheohar20
Sitamarhi73
Supaul87

86413 3863

29291 1226

56709 2621

413 16

DistrictCases
24 Paraganas North1031
24 Paraganas South281
Darjeeling97
Howrah1435
Jalpaiguri88
Kalimpong18
Kolkata2777
Maldah235
Medinipur East153
Medinipur West159
Hooghly604
Murshidabad125
Nadia139
Paschim Bardhaman70
Purba Bardhaman130
Alipurduar39
Bankura116
Birbhum206
Coochbehar210
Dinajpur Dakshin50
Dinajpur Uttar216
Jhargram9
Purulia66

101390 2931

25846

73395 3067

2149 49

DistrictCases
South Andamans33
Nicobars1
North And Middle Andaman1

1764 139

994 98

749 40

21 1

DistrictCases
Pondicherry111
Karaikal2
Mahe4
Yanam0

5900 276

2277 97

3532 177

91 2

DistrictCases
Anjaw0
Changlang31
Dibang Valley0
East Kameng0
East Siang1
Kamle0
KraDaadi0
KurungKumey0
Leparada0
Lohit3
Longding0
Lower Dibang Valley0
Lower Siang0
Lower Subansiri0
Namsai2
PakkeKessang1
Papum Pare8
Shi Yomi0
Siang0
Tawang1
Tirap0
Upper Siang1
Upper Subansiri0
West Kameng0
West Siang1

2327 96

690 54

1634 42

3

DistrictCases
Dimapur20
Kiphire3
Kohima7
Longleng0
Mokokchung0
Mon8
Peren2
Phek1
Tuensang3
Wokha0
Zunheboto0

3031 20

2032 2

991 18

8

DistrictCases
Dadra And Nagar Haveli20

1653 40

442

1209 42

2

DistrictCases
Ranchi148
Bokaro16
Deoghar5
Dhanbad32
Garhwa80
Giridih19
Hazaribagh110
Jamtara2
Koderma58
Simdega48
Chatra1
Dumka5
East Singhbum170
Godda2
Gumla28
Khunti10
Latehar14
Lohardaga8
Pakur4
Palamu27
Ramgarh75
Sahebganj0
SaraikelaKharsawan20
West Singhbhum21

19225 502

8658

10375 651

192 4

DistrictCases
Gomati74
North Tripura14
Dhalai196
Khowai24
Sepahijala174
South Tripura53
Unakoti49
West Tripura45

6482 110

1601

4838 182

43

DistrictCases
Kargil77
LehLadakh43

1770 53

506 35

1255 18

9

DistrictCases
Anantnag395
Bandipora175
Shopian255
Srinagar300
Baramulla271
Budgam110
Ganderbal37
Jammu138
Kathua53
Kulgam295
Kupwara231
Rajouri39
Ramban151
Reasi26
Samba25
Udhampur155
Mirpur0
Muzaffarabad0
Doda27
Kishtwar10
Poonch35
Pulwama108

25931 564

7462

17979 604

490 12

DistrictCases
Chamba29
Hamirpur117
Kangra105
Sirmaur11
Solan32
Una41
Bilaspur21
Kinnaur2
Kullu4
Lahaul And Spiti0
Mandi21
Shimla10

3497 34

1206

2273 68

18 1

DistrictCases
Jalandhar297
Ludhiana293
Patiala132
Amritsar485
Barnala25
Faridkot74
Firozepur50
Gurdaspur154
Hoshiarpur140
Kapurthala44
Mansa31
Moga65
Pathankot86
S.A.S Nagar137
Sangrur107
Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar (Nawanshahr)99
Sri Muktsar Sahib71
Tarn Taran163
Bathinda60
Fatehgarh Sahib57
Fazilka53
Rupnagar (Ropar)74

25889 1000

8463

16790 1055

636 32

DistrictCases
Haridwar94
Dehradun370
Nainital323
Almora71
Bageshwar31
Chamoli36
Champawat45
PauriGarhwal36
Pithoragarh43
Rudraprayag30
Tehri Garhwal110
Udam Singh Nagar83
Uttar Kashi24

10432 411

3826 240

6470 169

136 2

DistrictCases
Bishnupur7
Chandel5
Churachandpur32
Imphal East10
Imphal West21
Jiribam3
Kakching2
Kamjong5
Kangpokpi26
Noney1
Pherzawl3
Senapati6
Tamenglong2
Tengnoupal9
Thoubal18
Ukhrul4

3941 88

1801 81

2128 6

12 1

DistrictCases
Chandigarh313

1670 75

629 63

1015 11

26 1

DistrictCases
East Khasi Hills22
East Garo Hills0
East Jaintia Hills0
North Garo Hills1
Ribhoi0
South Garo Hills0
South West Garo Hills4
South West Khasi Hills0
West Garo Hills5
West Jaintia Hills1
West Khasi Hills1

1136 22

621 11

509 11

6

DistrictCases
Aizawl10
Champhai0
Hnahthial0
Khawzawl0
Kolasib11
Lawngtlai2
Lunglei2
Mamit8
Saiha0
Saitual1
Serchhip0

648 25

325 25

323

0

DistrictCases
Lakshadweep District0

0

0

0

0

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