During any large-scale crisis that puts a hold on human lives due to the massive impact it leaves in its wake, volunteers form a critical component in providing community relief and reaching out to people far and wide. It is the volunteers, community mobilizers, and social workers on the ground that become the essential link who help facilitate the effective means in bringing relief to the worst affected in any crisis.
COVID-19 is no different. The pandemic that has infected over four million people worldwide and continues to grow at an alarming rate has left a third of the population of the world confined to their houses. While it is essential for people to maintain adequate physical distance and hygiene, the volunteers and community workers have been on the ground working on the frontline in reaching out to help the vulnerable with the necessary aid.
The two most important responsibilities that these volunteers help agencies, such as Smile Foundation and corporates to reach out with aid to the needy, are awareness campaigns and resource distribution.
As the pandemic rages on across the world, rumors and misinformation become a major source of disruptions in the work of doctors, policepersons, and frontline workers as well as puts the health and lives of people at risk. Our volunteers and community mobilizers have played a crucial role in conducting awareness sessions in the most remote regions of the country about the disease and the necessary measures people must take to combat it.
They have ensured that people have the complete knowledge as publicized by credible health agencies about maintaining physical distance, personal hygiene, proper handwashing techniques and directions to be followed in case of appearance of any symptoms of the disease to minimize the contamination within the family and community.
Without the far-reaching resources and courage of our volunteers, it would have been difficult 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.
The volunteers have also been our main point of action on the field in terms of helping us reaching to people with relief material. As the lockdown to cut the chain of infection continues since its commencement on March 24, millions of people have been left without work or any source of livelihood to survive through the pandemic as authorities try to mitigate and bring the situation under control. A lot of these people are migrant and daily wage workers who have nothing left with them with the loss of their source of income.
In order to help such individuals, make it through the lockdown until things become normal, people have extended a helping hand to provide essential rations and food material for these people and their families. It is our volunteers who are working tirelessly across the country to ensure that the aid being provided by NGOs, government agencies and corporate firms reaches the millions of people fighting with a hunger for their survival.
Our volunteers have reached 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 our volunteers and community workers from grassroots NGOs from across the country have reached over 60,000 families and distributed over five million meals to people.
Volunteers form the arteries of the public welfare system who ensure that critical resources reach out to the most affected people living in extremely necessitous regions of the country. Without their 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.