GFC partners in South Asia respond to a devastating wave of COVID-19 infections

By Kulsoom Khan | May 6, 2021 | Asia | Freedom from Violence & Exploitation, Youth Empowerment

In India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, community-based organizations are providing lifesaving support to children and their families amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

South Asia has been hit hard by a second wave of COVID-19 infections. In India, experts believe infections are underreported, even as the country records nearly 350,000 new cases every day. The crisis is exacerbated by limited hospital beds and oxygen supply, and there have been recent reports of vaccinated individuals getting infected, increasing fears about the variant spreading in the country.

In neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh, lockdowns and travel restrictions have been reimposed as the number of infections has hit new records. Vaccinations are slow to reach those in need, while a lack of information has created an additional barrier to widespread inoculations.

Throughout the region, state and social welfare agencies are struggling to support children and young people who have lost one or both parents, become caretakers for their parents or younger siblings, or are out of school and without access to safe spaces, food, and basic hygiene supplies.

Rural Aid in India conducting an awareness drive in Assam

Rural Aid staff conducting an awareness drive in Alipurduar, India. © Rural Aid

GFC’s partners in South Asia are uniquely positioned to support their communities. They are providing direct emergency support to young people and their communities, including food, hygiene supplies, and medicine. They are also continuing to find ways to mitigate the long-term consequences of the pandemic through their existing programs for children and youth promoting livelihoods, gender equity, education, and safety.

Donate to support children and communities in South Asia affected by COVID-19.

Partners such as Local Education and Economic Development Organization (LEEDO) in Bangladesh are providing food to children and families whose livelihoods are affected by new lockdowns, while Sanjog in Pakistan continues to provide nutritional and hygiene support to children being held in jails who are mostly invisible to the community. In Alipurduar, India, Rural Aid is working hard to raise awareness of vaccine safety and hygiene best practices in rural communities.

Two children in New Delhi hold bottles of hand sanitizer.

Children living in slum communities in New Delhi, India receive hand sanitizer from GFC partner Sahyog Care for You during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. © Sahyog Care for You

Our partners are also planning to address the gaps left by response and recovery efforts carried out by their governments. In Bangladesh, GFC partner Alor Pothe Nobojatray Foundation (APON) plans to distribute mobile oxygen cylinders in vulnerable communities. Shobujer Ovijan Foundation – also in Bangladesh – hopes to provide cash grant support to women and children living under the poverty line, particularly women domestic workers and women in the ready-made garment industry whose livelihoods have been affected by lockdowns. In India, Rural Aid has procured personal protective equipment and suits and – in partnership with local health department officials and the police – will conduct awareness drives in communities where most people have little to no access to information about the virus. This lack of information has made these communities especially vulnerable, and cases are on a steep rise in urban and rural slums.

You can support our partners’ critical work on the frontlines of the pandemic in South Asia and help them continue essential services for children and youth by donating now.

Header photo: Rural Aid staff conducting an awareness drive in Alipurduar, India. © Rural Aid

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