Pallavi Rege, 52, a volunteer from Pune has formed over 1000 self-help groups to help women from underprivileged backgrounds and worked for the past 27 years for the rights and needs of migrant workers. When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in India, Pallavi’s put in efforts not just to provide the worst affected communities with rations but her prior initiatives in empowering women continued to aid the families of these women to survive through the crisis.
All across the country, the efforts and dedication of volunteer(s) and community workers such as herself have been invaluable in helping organizations such as Smile Foundation and their corporate donors in reaching out with the crucial aid to help the migrant and daily wage laborer make it through the pandemic without having to worry about their survival.
Inspired by the legacy left behind by Dr. Abdul Kalam, Santosh from Hyderabad contributes actively towards society. Even though he lost his own income as a salon worker when the pandemic hit the country, he felt the need to work for his community and ensure that people at least had one meal every day and do not starve as they count their days without any source of income through this pandemic.
He created the list of all the people he could know of who needed urgent assistance and has been a volunteer with Smile Foundation since the beginning of the ration distribution campaign and has reached out with aid to every person he knew he could help. Santosh also provides tuition classes to children in his community for free and still dedicates himself to the task for he believes that education is the only way to empower and strengthen the future of the country – our children.
Similarly, Savita, community healthcare volunteer from Gurgaon, has been working relentlessly in fulfilling her duty towards the society by reaching out to people every day with awareness about their health and hygiene during these critical times. Despite being the sole earner of four family members with three daughters and an ailing husband, Savita recognizes the importance of the role in the community and the assistance people, especially pregnant women, women and newborns requiring immunization and medical aid, and women struggling with menstruation and other health problems, require.
She has played a crucial role in reaching people with knowledge related to the pandemic and the measures of social distancing and hygiene that they need to follow to protect themselves. Besides this, she has been an immense support in helping Smile Foundation reach out to the most deprived communities with rations to make it through the period of lockdown.
With the efforts of many more such individuals all across the country Smile Foundation has been successful in reaching out to people living in urban slums of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and other cities, rural villages of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Kolkata and tribal communities deep inside the forests of Telangana and Orissa. To date with the assistance and information provided by the volunteers and community workers from grassroots NGOs from across the country, we have reached out to over 60,000 families and distributed over five million meals to people.
Without the far-reaching resources and courage of people like Santosh, Savita, Pallavi, and more, it would have been next to impossible to bring the much-needed relief to the worst affected communities and to deal with the misinformation about COVID-19 and combat with the additional challenges this brings before overburdened frontline workers. A single case of misinformation can deeply risk the lives of thousands of people during a pandemic.
A volunteer is a very important entity of the public welfare system that ensures that critical resources reach out to the most affected people living in extremely necessitous regions of the country. Without his/her support, our work would be incomplete and full of unprecedented difficulties. For even if national agencies manage to reach out to the people with necessary information and resources, it is the local volunteers who help us in communicating it to people in their local language and help us in overcoming all the cultural and social barriers.
To help, support https://www.smilefoundationindia.org/smile-fights-covid19/