- Before the lockdown the NGO was serving 3 meals/day to 600 people in NCR
- After lockdown, the NGO served cooked food to over 9,000 people across NCR
- The relief efforts across the 7 states are impacting over 35,000 people
New Delhi: The lockdown, which was imposed in the country to control the spread of COVID-19, is hailed by medical experts who say it helped control damage to a certain extent. However, the flip side of this lockdown has been the suffering endured by the underprivileged like the daily wage workers and migrant workers. As the underprivileged struggle to source their daily meals, a Delhi-based NGO, Wishes and Blessings, started executing relief with nutrition kits from the first day of the lockdown itself.
Wishes and Blessings helps with nine pressing issues including education, food, health and happiness across age, gender, economic and social barriers. Talking about the on ground situation of the underprivileged, Barkha Hazarika, a spokesperson from the organisation told NDTV,
The ground situation is something we have never seen before. Lakhs of daily wage labourers no longer have a regular source of income to fend for themselves and have been left stranded with nothing to call their own. The situation worsens as we move away from urban localities to the innermost areas of the country where tribal communities reside. Many of these underprivileged people survive on hand to mouth existence and have no savings to help them tide over this period of lockdown. While the lockdown was needed to fight the spread of COVID-19, it has given rise to another equally worrying concern – hunger and starvation.
She further highlighted that preventing deaths due to COVID-19 is equally important as it is to prevent deaths due to starvation. Explaining the initiatives of Wishes and Blessings, she said,
We have converted our day care centres into shelter homes to ensure that the homeless have a safe space to stay till the lockdown is lifted. We have also procured hygiene supplies to safeguard the health of all. But our main aim is to provide nutritional support to the homeless, daily wagers and underprivileged families affected by the lockdown. Before the lockdown was imposed, our organisation was serving 3 meals a day to over 600 underprivileged people across NCR, under our flagship project- The Daily Meals Programme. However, we scaled up operations and in the first week of the lockdown itself, we served cooked food to over 9,000 people across NCR and have grown ever since then.
The organisation, at its peak, has served meals to 15,000 homeless and daily wagers, which accounts to 45,000 meals per day and provided ration kits to over 8,300 families, Ms Hazarika said.
However, the numbers have fluctuated due to several reasons including availability of funds and the actual need on the ground. As of 19th May, we have served 12,60,620 meals, distributed 35,552 ration kits to over 9,000 families and over 10,000 hygiene kits across 7 states, she added.
Furthermore, Ms Hazarika said that Wishes and Blessings is now serving meals to 4,680 beneficiaries each day, and providing nutritional kits to 4,919 at-risk families across 7 states that include Assam, Delhi, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.
We have partnered with several grassroots level organisations to execute relief operations smoothly. Additionally, the Wishes and Blessings Relief Vans travel across Delhi to distribute emergency supplies including cooked food, ration kits and hygiene essentials. These relief efforts across the 7 states are impacting over 35,000 people but we are increasing our reach as more requests for aid come in.
When asked about the hygiene and social distancing protocols used in producing the meals as well as distributing them, Ms Hazarika said,
We are adhering to the safety protocols suggested by experts, as closely as possible. The meals we distribute, are cooked under strict sanitary conditions and the team and volunteers wear safety gear at all times. Also, at the centres, the beneficiaries sit at a distance of 1 metre. We are trying to work as efficiently and as safely as possible within the limited conditions and space available.
Ms. Hazarika lastly said that their organisation will continue with these relief efforts until June 15, but as the number of people in need increase by the day, the organisation will extend or modify the process as per the on-ground requirement.