july 2021

Smile Foundation

smilescapes

"Grief and resilience live together."

― Michelle Obama, in Becoming

This quote is something that Smile Foundation has been abiding by since the pandemic hit in early 2020. Our work, like everything else in the world, took a hit. And like everyone else, we also had to relook at everything from the perspective of pandemic-tinted glasses.

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 to successfully adapt our philosophy to the rapidly changing circumstances.

Very soon after the pandemic hit, we asked ourselves how we can ease the lives of the vulnerable communities. Amid problems such as lack of food and medicines, inaccessibility to basic healthcare facilities, closure of schools and colleges, and dwindling job prospects, Smile has been innovating and adapting to ensure that we can continue the work we have been doing since the past two decades.

A blended learning programme, along with provision of mobile devices and data packs; distribution of dry ration and other essential provisions; awareness campaigns to reduce vaccine hesitancy; upskilling youth to empower them to gain fruitful employment in emerging sectors—these are just some of the things we have been working actively on the ground. 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.

Till the end of 2020, the promise of 2021 loomed bright on the horizon. While 2020 was a year of massive learning for everyone, 2021 has been throwing at us more and more challenges. The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic left massive, never-seen-before devastation in its wake. It has reiterated the need for civil society to step up and support their fellow citizens. At this time, predictions about the third wave of the pandemic in India are a mixed bag of opinions. However, what we need to ensure is that mass suffering is avoided and we are prepared this time round.

Corporates and donors have been a huge help in mitigating the situation by aiding our initiatives during the pandemic. With their tremendous support, Smile is distributing PPE kits for frontline workers and hygiene kits for vulnerable communities. We are also equipping hospitals and healthcare facilities with oxygen concentrators in an attempt to strengthen the oxygen support system of our healthcare infrastructure. Our telecounselling programme is also actively trying to make citizens aware about the benefits of vaccination and reducing vaccine hesitancy.

This year has been full of ups and downs, and some terrible lows. But the resilience of our beneficiaries, our donors, and our team are giving me hope that we will emerge at the end of the crisis stronger than ever. 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.

Santanu Mishra

Santanu Mishra
Co-Founder & Executive Trustee

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