Ever since the pandemic hit in early 2020, the world seemingly turned upside down. Each and every aspect of our lives were affected. Smile Foundation’s work, like everything else in the world, also took a hit. And like everyone else, we had to relook at everything from the perspective of pandemic-tinted glasses. Adapting to the pandemic became the topmost priority.
Grief and resilience indeed live together. And nothing has proven this more than the pandemic. In the face of terrible and unforeseen circumstances, we at Smile managed have successfully adapted and adopted a COVID-friendly philosophy. Very soon after the pandemic hit, we asked ourselves how we can continue to ease the lives of the vulnerable communities. All our programmes have been edited and modified to suit the needs of the pandemic. And all our new campaigns are aimed at helping the vulnerable during these tough times.
Health Cannot Wait is the campaign that is aimed at providing healthcare relief to vulnerable communities during the pandemic. The government facilities have been overwhelmed under the burden of COVID relief. Moreover, there is disruption in transportation and other services as well, making it difficult for people to access basic healthcare facilities.
In such a situation, Smile Foundation introduced some interventions aiming to ease the life of vulnerable communities. Dry ration and hygiene kits, PPE for frontline workers, telemedicine, telecounselling for vaccine awareness, creating oxygen banks and strengthening COVID care centres are just some of the measures. Most importantly, our Smile on Wheels mobile healthcare vans are taking primary healthcare to the doorsteps of communities in need.
Before the advent of COVID, our Smile Twin e-Learning Program (STeP) focussed on skilling underprivileged youth in sectors such as retail and hospitality. Due to the pandemic, these sectors took a huge hit. Thus, we had to realign the program to make it suitable as per current job market.
As a result, we are now training youth to gain employment in sectors like healthcare, digital marketing, and e-logistics. A large number of our students in the last year have completed their training successfully and also got placed.
The pandemic inspired us to introduce blended learning at our Mission Education centres through the Shiksha Na Ruke campaign. We have done our best to ensure that the education of vulnerable children continues despite the disruptions caused by COVID. Many of these children are not able to afford smart devices and data packs. We have aimed to provide these to as many children as possible to ensure a seamless yet interactive learning process for them.
Adapting to the pandemic: Lessons learnt and unlearnt
This year has been full of ups and downs, and some terrible lows. But the resilience we see all around us is a reason for hope. The challenges we are facing now are showing us what we are truly capable of in the hardest of times, and this is the biggest learning the pandemic is giving us.
We have been made to see that there is more than one way of doing things. In the face of tremendous hardship, humans can evolved, grow, adapt to make the best of any situation, and keep pushing forward.