Women at the frontline of relief efforts
Hello, friend of Ekta!
Hope you’re keeping well.
Welcome to the second issue of Voice of Ekta, where we update you on the important news and events at Ekta Parishad India, along with giving you an insight into how we work and what we’ve planned for the near future.
In this issue, we’re focusing on the brilliant work done by women leaders at the frontline of COVID-19 Relief in India.
Foreword by Shraddha Kashyap, Vice President of Ekta Parishad
For more than a year, women leaders, activists and volunteers are working on the front line of all the relief operations. This is the reason why we’ve reached a large number of women and assisted them with medicine, food materials, etc. Women also played a very important role in a series of Shramdan Camps organized during 2020-21 and are now managing the water harvesting structures built by them.
Today, we are leading an awareness campaign against the pandemic, assisting the Health Workers with the vaccination, ensuring medicine and food to the needy and engaging with the State for various collaborative actions.
Nari Shakti Zindabad!
COVID-19 Relief Highlights
Our women-led Ekta Parishad team in Manipur is working to provide medicine kits and food to thousands of families
The state of Manipur is known for one of our strongest teams of young women team working on relief, across 100 remote villages in 5 districts. A dedicated team of activists and volunteers are immersed in identifying people who need aid. The team is reaching out to 1000 families in the rural areas of Imphal (East), Imphal (West), Bishnupur, Thoubal and Kakching districts to provide kits of preventive medicine.
Working with the help of Youth Clubs, we are getting encouraging and positive responses about our efforts to help people with vaccination. The team, consisting of Tanya, Dhanmanjuri, Mangirani, Sandhya and Bidya also have a plan to distribute 1000 kits of supplementary nutritious food to the women and children of the region.
Activists in Odisha are reaching out to remote villages to distribute preventative medicine kits
Ekta Parishad has a strong organisational base in the tribal districts of Odisha. Soon after lockdown, our team decided to talk to the district administration and help local Health Workers with vaccination in the remote villages. Considering the high positivity rate of COVID-19, the Odisha team acted promptly and distributed preventive medicine kits to needy families.
The team has already covered Puri, Bhubneshwar, Khurdha, Nayagarh, Jajpur, Bolangir, Kandhamal, Raigadha, Sundergarh and Kalahandi districts under intensive relief operations.
The efforts of Dolly, our leader in Eastern Odisha who is supporting the urban poor in Bhubaneswar, have also appreciated by local media.
Oxygen Concentrators donated by friends of Ekta Parishad installed in Rural Health Centers in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Manipur
A heartfelt thank you to our friends from abroad for providing 24 oxygen concentrators to Ekta Parishad.
These oxygen concentrators are very useful for Rural Health Centres that are serving villagers in remote areas. The Ekta Parishad team decided to give these oxygen concentrators to the Health Department to help the Rural Health Centres provide necessary aid.
These 24 oxygen concentrators have been installed in collaboration with the Health Department and are now being used to treat COVID-19 affected patients.
On-Ground Report: At The Frontline of COVID-19 Awareness Campaigns
Shobha, a leader working with the Baiga community in Madhya Pradesh
When Shobha reached Rajnjhra, a remote village of the Baiga tribe, the villagers wondered why she was there. When Shobha started speaking to them about vaccination, they simply walked away.
However, after repeated visits and discussions with Baiga women, Baiga villagers are also taking participating in vaccination camps.
Shobha’s efforts have also been supported by the district administration to help her reach out to the remote villages across Dindori and Mandla district.
Rajjo Sahariya, a tribal leader from Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh
Rajjo Bai while speaking to local journalists explains how in this Ekta Parishad’s Isolation Center in Shivpuri, people admitted to having much better health care as compared to any centers.
This Ekta Parishad Isolation Center adopted a holistic approach to health care which incorporated healthy nutritious food, good quality medicine, yoga therapy, all provided by motivated health staff. This initiative has garnered the appreciation of people from across the entire Chambal valley.
Mewa Sahariya, a tribal activist from Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh
Mewa is one of Ekta Parishad’s youngest activists in Uttar Pradesh. Even amidst the high number of cases in Jhansi and Lalitpur districts, Mewa has relentlessly continued her work in these areas.
For the last few weeks, Mewa along with her team members started their day by walking to remote villages of the Sahariya community and trying to help them with their health and hygiene. Within a short time, they were able to help many Sahariya villagers get their vaccination and safeguard the health of their family members.
Thanaraj, an activist of Tamil Nadu working in remote tribal areas
“I always felt that tribals are under double threat. Of course COVID-19 is a major health challenge for the tribals, but after a continued crisis of livelihood, they have become even more vulnerable. Our team is constantly trying to find a way to improve their health conditions. We are also starting to pool resources for ensuring their land & forest-based livelihood. After continuous efforts, now State officials are ready to listen and accept some of our demands.”
Voices of the Grassroots: Shabnam, our daring activist from Chambal
Shabnam Afghani is an expert on nutrition and women & child health and started her journey with Ekta Parishad in 2012. She devoted her energy to working in the Karahal Block of Sheopur district, which is known for malnutrition, migration and high mortality rate.
Shabnam is one of those daring activists who started visiting villages despite the threat of a pandemic. She and her team were able to reach out to 250 panchayats in the Sheopur district and encouraged thousands of women and men to take the vaccination.
Shabnam, along with her team is now planning to distribute supplementary nutritious food packs to women and children in Chambal.
Trip Down Memory Lane: A Note From Jacques Vallut For Raja Ji’s Birthday
I had been working and travelling in India for several years when I discovered once (in a leaflet of an NGO) the name and picture of Rajagopal, living in Tilda Neora in the middle of India, and I decided that I should anyhow meet that man. The occasion came in December 1985. With a friend, and after an hectic travel by train, we reached Tilda station early morning, and from there, a rickshaw brought us at the entrance of a compound where a man in white kurta and with a broad smile was waiting for us, with a large gesture of welcoming. He was laughing at the circumstances of our delay.
This is how we discovered Rajagopal. Such warmth and kindness emanate from this man that we were conquered at the very second. We understood why so many young people feel such an attraction to come here, to be listened to, to be trained, to want to get involved. During our few days visit, we had occasion to accompany him on a few field visits. This was the occasion to notice his genuine, spontaneous kindness and the quality of his listening, made up of concern and total respect for each person he listened to, whoever they may be.
That first visit has been followed by many others. Each time I travelled to India, I tried to spend sometimes with Rajaji in his field visits, initially for the rehabilitation of bonded labourers but also for many other small or larger struggles he requested us to support in different states. Thank you, Rajaji, for what you have been for us and you continue to be! Here’s to your 73rd birthday!
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From Ramesh Sharma, General Secretary of Ekta Parishad