For the past two months during the Covid19 lockdown, White Lotus Trust, fully supported by Lotus Outreaches, LotusRelief program, has provided essential emergency relief in the most vulnerable in village and urban communities of north and south India. The lockdown commenced in India on 23 March bringing tremendous suffering and hardship to all but more especially to daily wage earners and migrant labour already living on the edges of poverty. Without savings or support networks they ran out of money within a few days, helpless to do anything but wait in hope of assistance. It wasn’t enough that we wanted to help, movement and transport of goods and services was very difficult if not impossible, so we had to be innovative in finding ways to work.
Our friends, partners and program staff ensure that not a single grain or drop of oil is wasted. Every rupee White Lotus is spending on emergency support is without any doubt, being delivered without deduction to those most in need.
- In the past months since Covid19 shut down India our dedicated teams on the ground in north and south India have prepared and delivered thousands of cooked meals and dry rations, bring hope and light to in need families of migrant labor, single parents, handicapped, the poorest and most vulnerable.
- Our teachers and volunteers ran the White Lotus Trust food relief kitchen in Delhi Slums for two full months while providing 7842 meals to 75 families unable to afford gas to cook for themselves and also dry rations to some 355 persons from 55 families.
- LOR and our volunteers have teamed up with a local NGO, Sajha Manch who had funds for meals but not for gas and running their kitchen. This partnership will add a further 2100 meals bringing total impact up to 10,000 meals!!!
- In South India our Garden of Peace (GOP) and Buddha Smiles programs partner Professor Manivannan and his team of university volunteers and GOP teachers have delivered rations to around 250 families, more than 1050 poor, handicapped and destitute persons with life saving rations.
- In Mewat of Haryana, an area that was red zoned due to having Covid patients our local program coordinator Shekhawat ran a guerilla operation for two months, eventually hiring a small carrier van to help deliver 22,500 bars of soap and 5000 masks to 900 front line village health workers in 150 villages.
While it may seem like a small thing in the scheme of things, we are always moved and inspired acts of great courage and fortitude executed with joy and simple devotion.
Our protagonists are young, Indian girls and boys, living in the most difficult of conditions. These wonderful young people are slum dwellers themselves. They live on low income in tiny rooms with no inside bathrooms, very poor water and electricity supply in very unhygienic conditions, open drains, dusty lanes and porta-toilets shared by huge masses of humanity, squeezed together one on top of another. The generosity and joy with which they have offered their kindness to others not much worse of than them, is truly remarkable!
White Lotus Trust with support from several funding partners (Max India Foundation, Douglas A. Campbell Foundation and Douglas Campbell Jr.) have been providing afternoon classes for children of day labour in slum areas of Delhi for more than two years and the young teachers and volunteers working with us on this program now were the first to respond to the Covid emergency. They had already formed a group, ‘The New Community’ and been working on community issues like water, hygiene and helping illiterate people to get identity cards before we hired them as teachers and were well known and trusted in the slum community. It was these teachers and coordinators as well as volunteers, all residents of the slum themselves, that ran Food Relief Kitchen providing some 7482 meals and preparing ration kits for no less than 52 days in a row! The core team and a revolving team of volunteers worked long days in a tiny makeshift kitchen in a slum, with no cooling and summer raging down on them. These Heroes, there is no better word for it, identified the most in need including children and toddlers in need of fresh milk, went and brought supplies, prepared and delivered freshly cooked and good quality meals as well as dry ration kits for around 900 women, children and men from 130 families.
The rations included rice-10kgs, lentil-2kgs, flour-5kgs, cooking oil-1 litre, sugar-1kg, gram flour, soaps-2, spices and potatoes-2kg and salt. After preparing the meals Vipin, Mamta and Renu would trudge around the dusty lanes of the slum in the full heat of summer and joyfully deliver the lifesaving packages from door to door. Most of the families receiving help were from our afterschool program as well as others identified as being in very desperate circumstances. As if all of this work wasn’t enough, this merry threesome also spent time dropping in on families that needed something and putting up flyers around the settlement with guidelines on wearing masks and following hygiene protocols to avoid Covid.
Out hats and out hearts go out to these wonderful, selfless people that have worked tirelessly to help so many less fortunate than themselves and we could not forget to mention them all personally so a big thank you to – Mamta, Padma, Ujala, Muskan, Varsha, Moni Kumari, Janki Ramesh Kumar Sharma, Pooja and Renu!!!
Another group of teachers and volunteers working with group one, Manisha, Sandeep, Tridev, Shilpa, Monu and Rekha, came up with the idea to help illiterate slum dwellers fill out e-ration applications that would have otherwise cost 300 rupees each to get processed at a cyber café. The team filled out 320 e-coupons as a free service saving hundreds of out of work, destitute slum dwellers from paying 96,000 rupees in all. This group also worked hard for the entire lockdown, delivering rations and helping in the Covid Kitchen.