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In The Spotlight

Healthcare for all: Reaching the unreachable

Healthcare is among the most important and most difficult to reach for by the people with no homes and no identities. As of 2020, approx. a billion people are displaced, out which 763 million are internally displaced. Most of these people do not have any documents relevant to seek essential services which are their human rights and that prevents them from getting access to their needs.

 

85 % of the total displaced people, both domestic and international, are being hosted by developing nations. The health infrastructure of these nations is too weak to serve the needs of these people looking for a home and support in an alien place. Another group of people that are worst affected are the ones living in remote locations, the tribal and’ indigenous population. Such regions, though sparsely populated, do not generally have hospitals or a primary healthcare facility.

 

The population living in these vulnerable conditions and remote regions face severely poor socioeconomic conditions due to unemployment and/or isolation which also puts them on a back foot when it comes to accessing healthcare.

 

Living with poor sanitation and contaminated water with limited to no availability of nutritious food, they are also at an increased risk to a range of bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, as well as disease that can be easily prevented by vaccines. Another major factors that make it difficult for people displaced from their homes can be of this legal status in the host region, a language barriers and discrimination.

 

Among these people, the most vulnerable are women, children and people with disabilities. The social and environmental impact of the changes they face elevates the health issues faced by them.

 

Healthcare for children

 

In remote regions, the situation becomes critical due to the additional problems arising as a result of the lack of knowledge and awareness on the means to maintain good health, reduce preventable diseases and seek medical attention time. Even when people know when to seek medical attention, the non-functioning primary healthcare centres and non-availability of hospitals and doctors increases the rate of mortality among the population of people living in remote areas of the country.

 

Individuals and experts around the world seek to change the prevailing situation of weak healthcare facilities that are available for people in vulnerable situations and remote locations. With the advancement of technology, bringing quality healthcare to people around the world is becoming more and more easy. Among others, the most efficient and fruitful support is tele consultation and tele-medicine. With a rise in the use of smartphones and wide spread connectivity of the internet, providing medical assistance from healthcare experts to people living in remote regions is the way to go forward.

 

Most of the people in the challenging situations and locations are healthy, they do not suffer from chronic or deadly diseases, what they require is easy access to primary healthcare and regular awareness sessions on maintaining good health to avoid a health problem from becoming severe and possibly deadly. Teleconsultation can prove to be life-saving by helping in diagnosing a disease in its initial stage, for example, a common cold can be prevented from turning into pneumonia and more challenging to treat, if easy access to a doctor is available.

 

In regions, where people cannot reach or cannot afford to reach out for medical assistance, the same can be brought to them. By addressing, the primary and basic healthcare needs of the people surviving through social, environmental and economic challenges, the problem can be effectively removed before it turns into something far more severe.

Smile Foundation recognizes the above and under its healthcare vertical, Smile on Wheels, runs primary healthcare service vans that offers free quality medical assistances to underprivileged people at their doorstep in India. With regular consultation and a meticulously maintained health record of its beneficiaries, Smile on Wheels is able to address the primary and prevalent health needs of majority of the people they serve.

 

Healthcare through tele counselling

 

Teleconsultation and telemedicine is also a part of its program, where the doctors and health experts, connect with people through video and audio calls and address their healthcare needs when and where in person consultation is not possible. This has had a positive effect in terms of addressing the mental health problems of stress and anxiety arising due to difficult circumstances while the world learned to live with a pandemic.

 

Healthcare is a human right and every person should have easy access to means to maintaining a healthy body and mind. The world needs more innovations and implementation of services that bring quality healthcare to people without location or situation becoming unmovable hurdles in the path of it.

 

To help the most underprivileged support https://www.smilefoundationindia.org/health-cannot-wait/

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In The Spotlight

Response & recovery mechanisms, awareness to control pandemic

With Unlock 2.0 having come into effect from 1st July, it has become imperative for the government of India to formulate necessary regulations to put the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic under control. As per the statistics, there still remain a total of 244814 active cases of Covid-19 as of 5th July, with the metro cities of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi consistently leading the charts with the highest number of positive cases being tested on a daily basis. The number of deaths across nation due to the virus totaled up to 19268. Currently India has the third highest number of confirmed cases, overtaking Russia, in the world, after USA and Brazil.

 

After several extensions of the lockdown, the government started easing restrictions by dividing districts into red, orange and green zones. Red zones are designated as the hotspots and will not see any relaxations until 31st July, in comparison to the areas considered less prone to the spread of the virus.The central government’s decisive actions – in announcing timely ban on travel, sealing of borders and a near complete lockdown has resulted in relatively low infections and casualties in India, given its population density. It has also allowed the state health departments to get their health infrastructure, human resources and medical supplies in place to handle the expected surge in cases.As per the public records, there has been a consistent increase in the number of tests being conducted regularly, reaching 248934 on July 5th and indicated to be ramping up to 5 lakhs a day by the Centre soon. The ever increasing rapid/community testing has also been advocated as a strong means for phasing out the spread of infection along with the private sector offering drive through and home sample collection services.Also, with the constant efforts of the health industry in the country, 409082 cases were reported recovered from the disease. The state governments have also been constantly mobilizing the necessary supplies of PPE kits, hand sanitizers, masks and ventilators for the people along with conversion of public facilities to quarantine centers. Arogya Setu at the national level, Tamil Nadu’s COVID-19 Quarantine Monitor, Maharashtra’s MahaKavach, Delhi’s plasma bank, chatbots in 24X7 command and call centers are among many solutions deployed.

 

 

India, a leading manufacturer of vaccines and generic medicines, is expected to play a key role in the race for developing a vaccine against Covid-19. Bharat Biotech International Ltd. and Cadila Healthcare Ltd. have got an approval from the Drugs Controller General of India for human clinical trials for their indigenously developed vaccine candidates, Covaxin and ZyCov-D respectively, against Sars-Cov-2, the virus which causes the coronavirus disease.These two are among 11 out of 140 vaccines that have been approved for human trials in the world. However, this does not put a stop to the pandemic crisis and should be visualized only as a positive sign towards the recovery direction. Response and recovery plans still need to be more dynamic like the pandemic. A balance needs to be struck between opening up and managing the risk with strong guidelines, communication, surveillance, monitoring and preparedness, because clearly the virus does not seem to be leaving in a hurry and the nation needs to fight it.

 

It is equally important with Unlock 2.0 that awareness and preparedness be built into the public about handling the virus so that its spread can be controlled, particularly among the more vulnerable populations living in crowded urban slums with the bare minimum sanitation practices. Smile Foundation is continuously working towards creating awareness among the grassroots communities about precautions and preventive methods that should be adopted to keep children and families safe from the pandemic. To read more about our efforts, visit https://www.smilefoundationindia.org/health-cannot-wait/ 

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In The Spotlight

For Mental Health:Communicate, Share, Seek Help

While the world continues to face the repercussions of the global pandemic crisis, the people seem to be highly focused on the well-being of their physical health these days. All over social media, there are several videos being shared and live sessions being held for the people to continue to maintain their physical strength while staying at their homes. Several messages are constantly being shared over most of our WhatsApp family groups, almost daily providing us home remedies to keep up with our health. Meanwhile the people are immersed with the need to maintain the well-being of their physical health, they often tend to forget that it is not the only component of health. The other integral health component which is as affected in these corona times is our mental health.

 

According to the World Health Organization, “Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. “Mental health is more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.Without mental well being, there can be no true physical well-being. Social and financial circumstances, biological factors, and lifestyle choices can all shape a person’s mental health. Although mental health is a fundamental component of health, recognition of mental disorders and awareness about its importance is limited.An individual has a risk of developing a mental disorder regardless of age, income or social background, therefore it becomes now opportune to explore the paradigm of mental health awareness as a means of combating stigma, enhancing prevention, ensuring early recognition, and also stimulating simple and practical interventions within the community.Mental health has been a neglected concept for past many years, however with people still embracing the social distancing norms and settling in their homes for the lockdown, it is imperative that we acknowledge protecting it as a cause of concern.

 

In our country, discovering a mental disorder is often followed by hesitation and denial by self as well as by the society we are a part of. A report by the World Health Organization revealed that 7.5% of the Indian population suffers from some form of mental disorder. Mental illnesses constitute one-sixth of all health-related disorders and India accounted for nearly 15% of the global mental, neurological and substance abuse disorder burden. The lockdown has created unemployment and pay cuts for a large population which is one of the most common causes of depression among the working class and the ones hit by this turmoil the most is the underprivileged section. Social distancing has paved a way for changing daily routines and people feeling less connected to each other, leading to mood, eating and sleeping disorders. Mental health of an individual ultimately leads to physical disorders in human body. The basic causes like depression and insomnia which may seem insignificant at first, may lead to irrational and impulsive actions by the person, if neglected for long.

 

mental-health matters

 

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” There was numerous ways of improving the well-being of your mental health like indulging in self-care or volunteering, but the most effective of all is to communicate, share and seek help. Smile Foundation’s “Baaton Baaton Mein Sehat” is a unique Tele Counselling initiative that has been conceptualized to address the arising mental well-being concerns post Covid-19 and provide appropriate guidance. Till date this program has already counselled over 40,000 people and aims to reach over 200,000 children and families across the country.

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In The Spotlight

Music-Making for emotional well-being

During COVID-19 Lockdown, SmileFoundationIndia.org in association with AmaniProject.org continued to teach the children (virtually) to manage their emotions through Music-Making, acting, games and many more activities that are designed to revolve around Social Emotional Learning and Community Development.

 

Amani Project has spent years developing programs specifically to prepare young people to be more resilient in difficult times. Smile Foundation partnered with Amani Project in 2018 and since then the project has been going on  at various centers in Delhi-NCR.

 

The project engages children in various gamified activities such as:

 

  • making instruments from found objects,
  • jamming in instrument circles,
  • learning elements of music-making in fun ways,
  • writing own songs on different emotions with the help of a tool called the Mood Meter,
  • composing songs based on Empathy,
  • interviewing important social personalities within their communities and creating/performing songs based on their work etc.

 

 

To adapt the E-Learning during the lockdown surveys were conducted with the students through telephonic and internet calls.

 

In these surveys, the students were asked about their emotional well-being and well-being in general, availability of landline or Mobile Phones  familiarity with the Communication Apps, Time Slot they preferred for the online sessions and  whether they were willing to attend the online sessions. An overwhelmingly positive response was received. After gathering all the required information and making sure that the children as well as the mentors were comfortable, the online sessions began.

 

For children who had access to the internet, sessions were held through various video conferencing apps, and for the others, the sessions were held via voice calls.

 

Music-making for emotional well-being during Covid-19

 

Music and music-making during Covid-19 did one of its main functions – it helped us to stay connected with each other.

 

Starting off sessions with everyone singing one single note in unison, learning simple compositions based on Indian Ragas, noticing and discussing how different notes are able to create different emotions in us, making new instruments from found objects, playing music on instrument simulator apps, etc helped the children to stay socially connected while maintaining the physical distancing during the lockdown. Apart from these sessions, the children also participated in various online campaigns that included making music for – the
Coronavirus Awareness, thanking the Corona Warriors and expressing empathy for the people affected by COVID-19.

 

Amani Project and Smile Foundation, along with many other organizations and individuals, such as you, yes YOU, tell us if we are wrong, are aware of the potential of music to help attain inner peace as well as balancing the harmony within smaller communities and the world as a whole.  Smile Foundation and Amani Project believe that everyone should have access to Music. The collaboration is engaging more and more members, especially children 8-14 years of  age under this project, irrespective of their backgrounds.

 

To know more, visit the websites SmileFoundationIndia.org   AmaniProject.org and consider subscribing to the newsletters.

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In The Spotlight

Poor children and families during lock down

As the lock down reaches its version 5.0, the nation continues to suffer with the ramifications of Covid-19 daily, poor children and their families are the most affected ones. India currently has the largest number of confirmed cases in Asia and has the fourth highest number of confirmed cases in the world. The virus has posed challenges for India not only in terms of healthcare, but the economy of the country has been facing resultant downside from the past 3 months. The rate of unemployment in India was reported to have risen from 6.7% to 26%, that is approximately 4 times, within just the first month of the lock down period and further stood at 27.11% for the week ended May 3. The average employment reduced from an estimated 404 million during 2019-20 to 396 million in March 2020 which in April came down further to 282 million.

 

The pandemic has penetrated its way into the livelihood of the entire population; however, it seems to have a varied impact on the people belonging to different social groups. The most distressed section of the society that has been affected by the Covid-19 induced lock down is the poor children and their families which mainly comprises of migrant workers and the daily wage laborers. These groups, prior to the nationwide lock down, were mostly employed in the highly informal, unorganized and exploitative sectors like construction industries and manufacturing factories. With their workplaces being shut down, millions of these workers had to deal with the loss of income, food shortages and uncertainty about their future.According to estimates from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, over 122 million people lost their jobs in April itself , of which 75% of this unemployment was attributed to this underprivileged section affecting poor children and their families.

 

With the current fear of contagion, the discrimination against the underprivileged is at an all-time high which is leading to a major dislocation of these migrants.In India’s six largest metros (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru), 48% of residents were migrants in 2011, according to the migration figures released by the census earlier this year. These groups are the most exposed to risks of this virus due to limited access to the right information and healthcare which further stems to major issues like hunger and poverty. Thousands of these workers had to resort to walking back to their hometowns due to unavailability of any means of public transport during the lock down. A large population of the migrants have lost their lives, not just as a result of being COVID-19 positive, but due to reasons ranging from starvation, suicides, exhaustion, road and rail accidents, police brutality and denial of timely medical care.

 

 

The COVID crisis has finally created an acknowledgement for this section of the society, who for decades have moved across from state to state and city to city in search of opportunities and livelihood.The government has set certain directives in response to the atrocities being faced by the underprivileged. These include setting up of relief camps and quarantine facilities for the migrants. The labor laws have also been temporarily revised by the state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat with the purpose of attracting industries and investments for generating employment. Relief packages have been announced by the finance minister of the country for supplementing the livelihood of the poor. Additionally, the government has started with a few transport arrangements, including bus facilities and introduction of Shramik Special trains, for these migrants to return to their homes. It is now high time that we as a society realize the existence of the migrant laborers in India and recognize their contribution towards the economy.

 

Smile Foundation is helping the communities during corona virus with easy access to food and essential items in such challenging times. 20 million meals will be provided to 2 lac children and families. To know more visit: https://www.smilefoundationindia.org/smile-fights-covid19/

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In The Spotlight Smile

World Day against Child Labour greyed by COVID19

In 1993, the Government of India has introduced a law to prohibit any individual below the age of 18 years to be engaged by a commercial or family business in any form of dangerous employment or labour to safeguard the mental, spiritual, moral or social development. This law tightened further in 2006, ensured that no child below the age of 14 years can be engaged in any form of labour for the benefit of a commercial or family business. Since 1919, the International Labour Organization has been waging a war against child labour across the world. However, the World Day against Child Labour this year looks bleak in the face of the ongoing pandemic in the world.

 

An estimated 386 million children worldwide live in extremely dire poverty, as of 2019 as per a report by the United Nations. The current pandemic of coronavirus disease or COVID-19 will likely result in around 66 million children falling into poverty as the world struggles with a crippling economy. According to a census 2011 report, as many 10.1 million children are engaged in child labour in India and as the world readies itself to get back on its feet after the pandemic is contained, a lot of children will either be forced to engage in child labour for their own survival and/or trafficked into child labour by rings of traffickers. A lot of families struggling to survive will also pull their children out of schools to be made a bread earner to help them and support them in running the family

Children around the world belonging to underprivileged communities have also lost access to education. With a lockdown in place for the past four months in over 188 countries to order to break the spread of disease, only two-third of the countries with mandatory lockdown could provide children with distance and digital learning. However, for children without access to the internet or a device to access the internet, there are no measures taken to prevent their education from being hampered. Only 30% of the children in developing nations were able to continue their education amidst the lockdown.

 

 

These children who are faced with a lack of education and now a danger of being pushed into child labour also face the crisis of malnutrition. 368 million children in 144 countries rely on their schools for nutrition through mid-meals provided to them. Millions of these children will also end up losing access to proper nutrition essential for their survival, physical and mental development, if and when pushed into child labour.

 

The World Day against Child Labour, celebrated on June 12 every year, is faced with hard and inevitable circumstances of millions of children in India and across the world becoming victims of child labour again. Years and years of hard work and efforts put into bringing children out of the circle of exploitation and harm will be rendered useless unless the world order decides to confront the problem head-on.

 

Even though the circumstances look bleak and a little like a post-apocalyptic movie, the situation is not entirely a lost cause, if the government and non-government agencies tie hands together and commit themselves to ensure that not a single child rescued from child labour has to go back to the deplorable lives again.

 

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore commented on the situation saying, “As we re-imagine the world post-COVID, we need to make sure that children and their families have the tools they need to weather similar storms in the future. Quality education, social protection services, and better economic opportunities can be game-changers.”

 

 

Presently, ILO and UNICEF are developing a simulation model to look at the impact of COVID-19 on child labour globally and design the means to provide essential support that countries most at risk will require in order to help to mitigate the crisis in terms of child labour will arise in the world.

 

Smile Foundation, committed to its goal of bringing every child in school, has ensured regular contact with parents of our present beneficiary children to not let their morale down and consider taking their children out of school in the post-pandemic time. Smile has also reached out to people with support and donated over a million people with daily rations so that they do not have to worry their or their children’s survival in such difficult times.

 

The efforts being put by national and international authorities and the resolutions being adopted on the World Day against Child Labour by NGOs 7 IGOs, however, will not be possible without the support of the privileged of our country. People with resources to help the worst affected by the pandemic need to donate essential support so that we all can bring a brighter future to every child of this country.

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In The Spotlight

World Environment Day 2020 amidst COVID-19

For the past three months, the world witnessed unprecedented activities and occurrences. With a third of the world in complete lockdown, the global environment got the much-needed break from the intensive human interference with the natural cycle of the Earth. The World Environment Day, this June, will be unique since people around the world have not experienced fresh air, clean water, and nature in its raw form for decades that last up to half a century.

 

Coronavirus or COVID-19, that has spread across more than 190 countries in the world affecting over six million people in just three months is something that the population of the present century was not prepared. The pandemic has shut over half the population of the world inside their house this year since February this year. People across the world were brought face to face with a freshening spring and now with a lovely summer where we all got to know what true nature – air, water, and earth is like.

 

Since the global shutdown that commenced across the world in February this year, the air quality around the world has improved drastically and the level of pollution has been cut by as much as 60% with factories and traffic having been brought to a standstill. The water in rivers and lakes is clearer due to the lack of ships and boats, and sightings of unique animals and mountain ranges are reported which has not happened in decades.

 

 

With human interference in nature reduced drastically, Earth has started showing signs of being healed. But like most things in life, even these changes are temporary and the situation will worsen once the lockdown is lifted. With a number of positive news in terms of air quality and more coming due to global shutdown, it is left to be seen what the environmental effect of COVID-19 will due to an increase in the production of bio-medical wastes. Single-use plastic has been utilized more to deliver food to people as they stay at home to prevent the spread of disease. Most of which is and will not be recycled due to the fear of virus propagation. Even with the approaching World Environment Day, incidences of illegal deforestation, poaching, and fishing have also presented themselves in nature conservation zones the surveillance around which were shut due to the fast-spreading disease.

 

The few positives news with regards to our environment during the global lockdown which was seen before World Environment Day are all set to be eclipsed by the negatives when the world goes back to being as it was before the lockdown. Besides the inevitable rise in global air pollution, overexploitation of natural resources to balance the economy and increase employment will also be witnessed when the pandemic is over.

 

It is just a matter of time that humans being as selfish they are, return things the way they were before the pandemic hit the world.

 

The world did not need a pandemic for people to realize the benefits of being responsible for nature. The environment around the world has been degrading at an alarming rate for the past decade and still, no effective means have been implemented to conserve and reverse the effects of extensive exploitation of resources for the benefit of humans.

 

 

The reason why a pathogen that is usually found in animals managed found a support system to enter the human body is primarily because of human encroachment is animal territories. There are millions of other virus strains and pathogens in animals, which can easily help themselves into humans and prove to be far more dangerous and with a higher mortality rate than the current COVID-19. As we destroy the homes of wildlife and force our way into their territories leaving them without the support of their natural habitats, we make the human population vulnerable to the diseases in which the animal species will be clueless to donate to us.

 

It is, therefore, immensely crucial for all us to do our part to support and protect the only world we will get in our lives to live. A healthy environment would help us in becoming a healthy human being at risk of lesser diseases. Maintaining a balanced eco-system and providing support to the needs of animals, trees and every necessary ecological entity is essential which we as humans need to implement urgently. For even if humans manage to find another life-sustaining planet within this galaxy, reaching it will not be possible any time soon if we destroy our present home.

 

This World Environment Day, let us all pledge to not ignore our duties and donate whatever resources we can muster towards our world and support in improving the health and well-being of our plant.

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In The Spotlight

Empowering women continues during COVID-19

Empowering women is the need of the hour. Women getting an education, healthcare, safety, equal opportunity, and a life of independence and dignity has been a mission for visionaries around the globe. As per a report by McKinsey, an estimated $770 billion would be added to India’s economy by 2025, if gender equality is effectively achieved in the country.

 

However, the mission and hopes of millions of women and men to empower every woman in the world have come to a sudden pause in the midst of the recent pandemic of Coronavirus disease or COVID-19 which has infected over 3 million people globally in the last five months.

 

As per the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a woman is affected thrice as much as a man due to this epidemic. A working woman with children now is working from home, doing household duties, taking care of kids, and now also needs to pay attention to homeschooling her children to prevent them from having a mental breakdown from being locked inside the house all the time. This is the “triple shift”, i.e. three times the amount of stress a woman is suffering from due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

Young girls face a possible loss of education due to the lack of digital device making them vulnerable to early marriage and exploitative relationships. Presently, 743 million (UNWomen report) are out of school and adolescent girls are the most at risk of facing gender-based violations starting with the loss of education.

 

Smile Foundation has been actively working in empowering women and in turn strengthening their families and communities for the past 15 years. Under its vertical with a focus towards empowering women, Swabhiman, Smile creates awareness among women in underprivileged communities about their health, education, and essential needs during periods, pregnancy, and prioritizing their health and welfare to take better care of their children and families. Alongside this, academically high-achieving girls are provided yearly scholarships until the completion of their college to promote girl education and encourage families to prioritize their education over social and domestic duties.

 

Continuing the work to promote girl education and women welfare during the COVID-19 crisis that has put a third of the world’s population into lockdown to cut the spread of the virus, Swabhiman officers and community mobilizers are still working on the field to help women in underprivileged communities. With the country in lockdown, most of the daily wage and migrant workers have lost their source of income as well as are not able to acquire essential resources for their survival. Women are especially susceptible to the worst of it for they will put the needs of their children and families before attending to themselves. To help women take care of themselves as well as their families, Swabhiman community mobilizers have crucial in dry ration distribution to such women and address their healthcare needs as well during a time when everyone and everything is focused on fighting the pandemic.

 

Through telephonic calls and text messages, the mobilizers have kept in constant touch with the existing beneficiaries to help them deal with the stress of the situation and help them reach all the support necessary to help them ease through this period. In the past 3 weeks, these mobilizers have also facilitated four institutional deliveries by helping pregnant women understand the signs of labor and bringing them to the hospital and ensure that these women get the necessary medical attention during childbirth.

 

Smile also ensured that its Swabhiman Scholars are able to continue their studies digitally during the lockdown and not losing out on any opportunity to progress even as the world has come to a standstill. These adolescent girls under the scholarship program were given tablets which have been of immense help to them in continuing their studies online.

 

 

Guardians of the girls who don’t have tablets but do have a smartphone at home are regularly counseled and advised to let the device be accessible to the scholars for the purpose of their studies. The girls are also being presented with material and resources along with few apps for online courses to not lose even a day’s worth of studies as well as engaged in English communication courses to make the most of their time at home.

 

As the world works relentlessly to fight and stop the pandemic, Smile Foundation ensures to fulfill its existing responsibilities towards women and society and not let a pandemic become an obstacle for girls and women in achieving a brighter future and a healthier life that empowers them to realize the best of their potential.

 

To help in empowering girls and women donate on https://www.smilefoundationindia.org/she-can-fly/

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In The Spotlight

Mission Education children receive COVID-19 aid

The world as we knew is no longer the same as the disease that entered the human system from animals spread out across the globe. COVID-19 or coronavirus disease that was noticed by the people in late December last year in China has now infected an estimated 3 million people in 210 countries has not only challenged the healthcare system of the world but also the lifestyle of the common people had employed for decades and has also affected the routine of Smile’s Mission Education beneficiaries.

 

The disease has confined a third of the global population within their houses for the past month has affected all the established systems for work, education, essential commerce, recreation, health, and much more. Most of the people of the world today are living their regular lives on the telephone or the internet in some form. Whether to execute your office or attend classes or entertain oneself. People have had limited to no human contact in the last few weeks.

 

It is a necessary step required to break the chain of the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. India’s population has been under strict lockdown to cut the spread of the disease in the nascent stage which has so far been successful curbing the number of cases in the country. In the view of the present situation where a part of the population does not have the means to connect with relevant contact points for their needs, it becomes the responsibility of the abled to not leave behind and by helping and taking care of such people through communal contribution.

 

Smile Foundation has been actively working towards fulfilling its responsibility to the society and reaching out to the people who have no source of income as well as resources for survival due to the mandatory lockdown across the country.

 

 

Besides providing dry rations kits to the underprivileged communities living in urban slums, rural villages and remote areas, Smile Foundation, through its Mission Education vertical, is also addressing the urgent assistance required by such communities through tele-counseling and awareness sessions, associating with government and non-government agencies to help families in distress to reach out to people who can help them, and reaching out children who are being affected by the situation and experiencing emotions they do not fully understand.

 

The project coordinators of Mission Education centers around the country regularly call their student beneficiaries to spread awareness to the students, their families, and community stakeholders about COVID-19 and the means like practicing hygiene and physical distancing to protect themselves from contracting the disease. The children and their families are also provided with information related to important numbers to seek support in case of any symptoms of the disease or if they experience any personal crisis.

 

Children and their families are also being provided counseling to understand and deal with the stress and anxiety that everyone is experiencing due to limitations to movement and to human contact.  So far, our coordinators have reached people living at the project locations in Siddharth Nagar, Bangalore, Gurugram, Gonda, Bharatpur, and more. Their progress and needs are also being tracked by our coordinators by checking up regularly with them and get an update on their health and needs.

 

Mission Education has also teamed with governmental and non-governmental agencies who are conducting local distribution of food and rations to the underprivileged communities. The representatives sharing the details of the local resource points as well as connect them with people who can provide them with essentials like food, water, or medicines in case of an emergency. Mission Education coordinators have been able to help desperate families facing difficult circumstances by reaching out to them remotely.

 

 

The field workers of Smile Foundation are also volunteering for the local administration to provide support to them to reach out to the maximum population for creating awareness and with the distribution of relief material in a shorter span of time.

 

In all our efforts, our most important tool has been technology which has helped in not letting any of our beneficiaries remain isolated from the help and relief they need to get through the COVID-19 crisis, for countering this pandemic does not just require the efforts from our medical workers and scientists but also the collective efforts of the masses and administration to bring everyone out of this crisis healthy and prosperous.

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In The Spotlight

Earth Day celebrations in the midst of COVID-19

As the evening falls and the temperature drops with it, one can smell summer during the evenings and nights. The smell of grass, flowers, leaves in clean air reaches one’s room. The skies are clearer and bluer and full of hues, rendering all the photo editing tools useless. The air feels lighter and cleaner, water more transparent, and the only thing littering the streets and roads are the leaves and branches fallen from the trees. Earth Day, this year, is one of a kind as it completed 50 years.

 

COVID-19, that has affected more than 190 countries across the world, is posing an unprecedented challenge for which none of us, in the present century, were prepared. When more than half the world was forced to shut down as the spring arrived earlier this year due to a pandemic, it had an unexpected impact globally.

 

The air quality around the world has improved drastically and the level of pollution has cut by as much as 60% as factories and air and road traffic have been stopped. The water in rivers and lakes is clearer due to the lack of ships and boats, and sightings of unique animals and mountain ranges are reported which has not happened in decades.

 

 

With the human interference in nature reducing drastically, Earth has started showing signs of getting healed. However, it is fairly temporary and the situation will worsen once the lockdown is lifted. Even with a number of positive news in terms of air quality, the effect of COVID-19 on the environment will be immense due to an increase in the production of bio-medical wastes. Single-use plastic is being used more to deliver food to people as they stay at home to prevent the spread of disease. Most of this waste is not being recycled due to the fear of virus propagation. A few incidences of illegal deforestation, poaching, and fishing have also come forward in nature conservation zones as the surveillance has to be shut due to the pandemic.

 

The few positives that happened during the global lockdown which this Earth Day is witnessing is all set to be eclipsed by the negatives when the world goes back to being as it was before the lockdown. Besides the inevitable rise in global air pollution, overexploitation of natural resources to balance the economy and increase employment will also be witnessed when the pandemic is over.

 

It is just a matter of time that humans being as selfish they are, return things the way they were before the pandemic hit the world.

 

The world did not need a pandemic for the people to realize the benefits of being responsible towards nature. The environment around the world has been degrading at an alarming rate for the past decade and still, no effective means have been implemented to conserve and reverse the effects of extensive exploitation of resources for the benefit of humans.

 

 

The reason why a pathogen that is usually found in animals managed to enter the human body is primarily because of human encroachment is animal territories. There are millions of other virus strains and pathogens in animals, which can reach humans and prove to be far more dangerous and with a higher mortality rate than the current COVID-19. As we destroy the homes of wildlife and force our way into their territories, we leave the human population vulnerable to these diseases.

 

It is, therefore, immensely crucial for all us to do our part and protect the world we will get in our lives to live. A healthy environment would result in a healthy human being at risk of lesser diseases. Maintaining a balanced eco-system and respecting the needs of animals, trees and every necessary ecological entity is essential and needs to be implemented urgently. For even if humans manage to find another life-sustaining planet within this galaxy, reaching it will not be possible any time soon if we destroy our home.

 

This Earth Day, let us all pledge to not ignore our duties towards our world and do our part in improving the health and well-being of the environment and our planet.