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.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak: United States Of America Approves Antigen Test To Diagnose COVID-19 With Fast Results

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

5,86,14,614Cases
1,97,37,336Active
3,74,90,171Recovered
13,87,107Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 191 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 5,86,14,614 and 13,87,107 have died; 1,97,37,336 are active cases and 3,74,90,171 have recovered as on November 23, 2020 at 3:52 am.

India

91,39,865 44059Cases
4,43,486 2524Active
85,62,641 41024Recovered
1,33,738 511Deaths
In India, there are 91,39,865 confirmed cases including 1,33,738 deaths. The number of active cases is 4,43,486 and 85,62,641 have recovered as on November 23, 2020 at 2:30 am.

State & District Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
DistrictCases
Mumbai45,478
Thane13,660
Pune9,920
Mumbai Suburban5,363
Aurangabad1,974
Nashik1,575
Raigad1,462
Palghar1,421
Solapur1,291
Jalgaon1,039
Akola757
Nagpur692
Kolhapur646
Satara629
Ratnagiri350
Amravati291
Dhule228
Hingoli208
Jalna201
Ahmednagar190
Nanded176
Yavatmal150
Sangli145
Latur139
Osmanabad125
Sindhudurg114
Buldhana88
Parbhani78
gondia69
Beed54
Nandurbar42
Gadchiroli42
Bhandara41
Chandrapur32
Washim13
Wardha11

17,80,208 5,753

82,521 1,643

16,51,064 4,060

46,623 50

DistrictCases
Udupi1,176
Kalaburagi669
Yadgir538
Bengaluru Urban529
Raichur369
Mandya346
Belagavi337
Bidar219
Hassan205
Davangere204
Vijayapura201
Dakshina Kannada179
Chikkaballapura149
Mysuru107
Bagalkote103
Uttara Kannada95
Shivamogga67
Dharwad61
Ballari60
Gadag45
Bengaluru Rural40
Tumakuru36
Kolar29
Haveri24
Chikkamagaluru19
Chitradurga14
Koppal5
Kodagu4
Ramanagara3
Chamarajanagara0

8,73,046 1,704

24,887 154

8,36,505 1,537

11,654 13

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

8,62,213 1,121

14,249 521

8,41,026 1,631

6,938 11

DistrictCases
Chennai23,324
Chengalpattu1,314
Thiruvallur774
Villupuram509
Kanchipuram503
Tiruvannamalai496
Cuddalore477
Ariyalur444
Tirunelveli433
Tuticorin333
Kallakurichi324
Madurai322
Salem258
Coimbatore188
Virudhunagar185
Dindigul175
Perambalur133
Ranipet133
Thanjavur130
Theni129
Tiruchirappalli119
Ramanathapuram119
Tiruppur116
Kanniyakumari110
Tenkasi103
Nagapattinam99
Karur88
Namakkal83
Erode75
Vellore71
Thiruvarur67
Pudukkottai53
Sivaganga46
Tirupathur45
Krishnagiri43
The Nilgiris17
Dharmapuri15

7,69,995 1,655

12,542 374

7,45,848 2,010

11,605 19

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

5,62,695 5,254

65,982 1,000

4,94,664 6,227

2,049 27

DistrictCases
North West5,463
Central4,817
West4,768
New Delhi3,405
North3,059
East2,472
South East2,446
South West2,391
South2,329
North East1,914
Shahdara1,580

5,29,863 6,746

40,212 471

4,81,260 6,154

8,391 121

DistrictCases
Gautam Buddha Nagar1,119
Agra933
Ghaziabad794
Meerut504
Lucknow386
Saharanpur298
Kanpur Nagar286
Moradabad252
Varanasi243
Hapur225
Aligarh215
Basti214
Amethi206
Rampur203
Jaunpur194
Firozabad190
Barabanki168
Gorakhpur166
Bulandshahr166
Siddharth Nagar159
Ghazipur159
Bijnor157
Deoria143
Azamgarh138
Sant Kabeer Nagar132
Mathura129
Ayodhya120
Muzaffarnagar117
Sambhal116
Sultanpur97
Ambedkar Nagar92
Maharajganj85
Amroha80
Rae Bareli78
Bahraich73
Kheri72
Kannauj69
Baghpat68
Kushi Nagar67
Bhadohi60
Ballia60
Gonda59
Etah52
Hardoi49
Balrampur49
Mau48
Mainpuri46
Etawah46
Hathras43
Unnao42
Jalaun41
Jhansi41
Shamli40
Chandauli38
Auraiya37
Farrukhabad36
Sitapur32
Prayagraj30
Banda27
Shahjahanpur25
Shravasti23
Budaun23
Mirzapur22
Bareilly17
Kasganj16
Pratapgarh15
Pilibhit15
Sonbhadra10
Kaushambi6
Kanpur Dehat4
Chitrakoot4
Lalitpur3
Hamirpur3
Mahoba3
Fatehpur3

5,26,780 2,557

23,806 335

4,95,415 2,187

7,559 35

DistrictCases
Kolkata2,777
Howrah1,435
24 Paraganas North1,031
Hooghly604
24 Paraganas South281
Maldah235
Dinajpur Uttar216
Coochbehar210
Birbhum206
Medinipur West159
Medinipur East153
Nadia139
Purba Bardhaman130
Murshidabad125
Bankura116
Darjeeling97
Jalpaiguri88
Paschim Bardhaman70
Purulia66
Dinajpur Dakshin50
Alipurduar39
Kalimpong18
Jhargram9

4,56,361 3,591

25,207 184

4,23,129 3,726

8,025 49

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

3,13,961 638

6,508 282

3,05,813 905

1,640 15

DistrictCases
Hyderabad2,475
Ranga Reddy183
Suryapet87
Jagitial77
Nizamabad76
MedchalMalkajgiri75
Mancherial43
YadadriBhuvanagiri40
Jogulamba Gadwal40
Vikarabad40
Nalgonda33
Warangal Urban32
Mahabubnagar30
Sangareddy26
Khammam26
Adilabad22
Nirmal21
Karimnagar17
RajannaSircilla16
Medak11
Kamareddy11
Mahabubabad10
Jayashankar Bhupalapally9
Nagarkurnool8
Kumuram Bheem Asifabad8
Jangoan8
Siddipet7
Peddapalli5
Bhadradri Kothagudem5
Warangal Rural4
Mulugu3
Narayanpet3
Wanaparthy1

2,64,128 602

11,227 416

2,51,468 1,015

1,433 3

DistrictCases
Jaipur2,177
Jodhpur1,748
Udaipur724
Bharatpur563
Kota503
Nagaur500
Ajmer379
Dungarpur374
Pali352
Jhalawar329
Bhilwara250
Sikar231
Chittorgarh188
Tonk171
Jalore164
Rajsamand140
Sirohi130
Bikaner112
Banswara91
Alwar90
Churu81
Jhunjhunu64
Dausa61
Dholpur60
Baran59
Jaisalmer53
Barmer34
Hanumangarh31
SawaiMadhopur26
Karauli17
Pratapgarh14
Ganganagar8
Bundi5

2,43,936 3,260

23,190 1,239

2,18,583 2,004

2,163 17

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

2,29,544 367

4,839 243

2,23,484 605

1,221 5

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

2,23,436 1,748

21,393 734

1,99,311 995

2,732 19

DistrictCases
Gurugram2,950
Faridabad867
Sonipat404
Rohtak145
Palwal120
Jhajjar114
Karnal104
Hisar98
Ambala93
Panipat78
Nuh68
Bhiwani60
Rewari56
Kurukshetra55
Sirsa50
Kaithal48
Mahendragarh47
CharkiDadri43
Panchkula39
Fatehabad38
Jind38
Yamunanagar19

2,17,300 2,279

20,344 19

1,94,768 2,235

2,188 25

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

2,11,513 86

3,142 90

2,07,397 175

974 1

DistrictCases
Ahmadabad17,125
Surat2,311
Vadodara1,555
Gandhinagar410
Mahesana159
Banas Kantha147
Bhavnagar146
Rajkot135
Arvalli134
Mahisagar125
Anand107
PanchMahals107
Patan105
SabarKantha101
Kachchh99
Kheda98
Jamnagar63
Bharuch56
Botad55
Surendranagar55
Valsad47
GirSomnath45
Dohad43
Chhotaudepur37
Naysari35
Junagadh31
Narmada25
DevbhumiDwarka22
Amreli16
Porbandar11
Tapi6
Dang5
Morbi4

1,97,412 1,495

13,600 315

1,79,953 1,167

3,859 13

DistrictCases
Indore3,839
Bhopal1,880
Ujjain799
Burhanpur351
Neemuch319
Jabalpur276
East Nimar266
Sagar228
Gwalior211
Khargone196
Dewas140
Dhar132
Mandsaur112
Morena109
Bhind87
Raisen71
Barwani60
Ratlam51
Rewa39
Shajapur39
Hoshangabad37
Vidisha37
Chhatarpur35
Betul35
Rajgarh31
Dindori29
Sheopur26
Damoh26
Satna24
Anuppur22
Panna20
Tikamgarh18
Sidhi17
Narsinghpur17
Chhindwara16
Agar Malwa15
Mandla15
Shivpuri15
Jhabua14
Shandol14
Singrauli13
Ashoknagar13
Datia12
Sehore12
Umaria10
Balaghat9
Guna8
Harda4
Alirajpur3
Katni3
Seoni2
Niwari0

1,93,044 1,798

11,765 573

1,78,117 1,212

3,162 13

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

1,46,346 679

6,724 163

1,35,008 497

4,614 19

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

1,07,469 137

2,289 141

1,04,229 272

951 6

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

1,06,548 564

5,700 20

99,219 579

1,629 5

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

71,256 466

4,368 286

65,733 171

1,155 9

DistrictCases
South Goa69
North Goa57

46,826 78

1,170 91

44,979 167

677 2

DistrictCases
Pondicherry111
Mahe4
Karaikal2
Yanam0

36,693 45

559 43

35,525 88

609

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

34,327 627

7,034 36

26,756 644

537 19

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

32,434 19

796 74

31,269 90

369 3

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

23,400 382

3,146 174

20,018 205

236 3

DistrictCases
Chandigarh313

16,671 80

1,094 41

15,317 119

260 2

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

16,061 24

1,040 11

14,972 35

49

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

11,339 70

894 31

10,335 99

110 2

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

10,777 103

1,410 35

9,308 66

59 2

DistrictCases
Kargil77
LehLadakh43

7,939 73

928 16

6,911 55

100 2

DistrictCases
East District3
South District3
North District0
West District0

4,722 31

278 11

4,345 41

99 1

DistrictCases
South Andamans33
Nicobars1
North And Middle Andaman1

4,641 10

140 2

4,440 12

61

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

3,660 13

463 22

3,192 35

5

DistrictCases
Dadra And Nagar Haveli20

3,321 4

39 0

3,280 4

2

DistrictCases
Lakshadweep District0

0

0 0

0

0

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