july 2022

Smile Foundation

Covid-19 has forced children to remain confined inside their homes. Prolonged school closure, lack of outdoor activities and social interaction; and the uncertainty and fear around the virus have all become part of our lives. This has severely impacted children the most and their psychosocial well-being and development has been affected.

Fear and anxiety about their and their family’s health can be overwhelming and disturbing for children. Moreover, access to news and information on COVID-19 developments due to increased access to digital devices and the overwhelming amount of coverage on mass media regarding the pandemic further heightens their stress and anxiety.

Adjusting to the online mode of education is another challenge for children. Switching from the traditional classroom teaching to digital mode has proven to be a difficulty.

The poverty which is an offshoot of the pandemic has increased the misery of the most vulnerable sections of society. In these communities, the children need additional protection. We are also finding cases of the education of girl children being discontinued as they are either made to carry out domestic chores or married early. Similarly, some adolescent boys are being pulled out of school to work and contribute to the family income.

We at Smile Foundation have been taking stock of this situation and trying to adapt our outreach and interventions accordingly. At this stage of the pandemic, it is important to focus not just on children’s education but also on their mental well-being and holistic development.

Thus, counseling parents is also a key intervention under our education programme. Helping parents get involved in their children’s education from the safety of their homes plays a critical role in the continued education of vulnerable children.

Our effort has been to try and connect with as many parents and families as possible of the children we work with, to understand the challenges that they are facing and to guide them to avail the appropriate government schemes to support their livelihood and health.

Emotional and social development among children has been deeply hampered due to lack of in-person schooling. Going back to school, meeting their peers and teachers, and studying in the learning-conducive environment of the school, will definitely help children cope, and make them comfortable. The learning gap over the past year and a half is a huge deficit, which we will need to address through our constant efforts on the ground.

One of our main focus areas right now is to bring children back to school—those who have been forced to drop out due to the pandemic. In our other intervention areas too, keeping our lifecycle approach at the centre of all our efforts, we are adopting and adapting the developments that impact our work in any manner. Be it providing entrepreneurship training to women, or training youth for jobs in e-commerce and health sectors, or using mobile health units and telemedicine to provide healthcare to the unreached, Smile Foundation has kept up with the fast-changing dynamic environment that our sector presents.

Santanu Mishra

Santanu Mishra
Co-Founder & Executive Trustee

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