The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm. Aroehan team led by Chief Operating Officer Dr Shubalakshmi Iyer, responded quickly to the complex challenge it posed.

The lockdown which began on March 25, 2020 has been extended from time and again till the 31st of May; it is also likely to be extended further. It has adversely affected the village community at large. The worst affected is the most vulnerable of the tribal group – the Katkaris, and widows who are staying alone in far away, almost inaccessible hamlets. The other most vulnerable group to be adversely affected was the seasonal migrants and their families who came from other blocks and districts in the State. And, of course, the plight of the migrants and small-scale industrial labour who leave their home town and enter other cities/villages in search of menial jobs is well known now. The companies and brick kilns were shut down and their owners were stranded in the cities, the migrant population was left in the lurch with nowhere to go, no money and lack of basic necessities like food and water.

AROEHAN has always been in the forefront to help the most vulnerable tribal groups. The team was able to identify many such individuals and families in the villages and hamlets of Palghar and Mokhada Block in Palghar district through reliable sources, and the first immediate step was providing them with dry ration and hygiene essentials.

There was urgent need to provide hygiene/ protective consumables (mask, sanitizer, gloves) to the Primary Health Care centres as well as the front-line workers of Jawhar and Mokhada block. 

Aroehan Team

We appealed to people to make donations for this work, and many persons responded immediately.

Summary of the relief work undertaken:

Aroehan team has arranged to provide dry ration kits and hygiene essentials to more than 1300 migrant BPL (Below Poverty Line) families in Palghar, Dahanu and Mokhada blocks of Palghar district with the funds received from various individual donors as well as Corporates.

We have also provided surgical masks and hygiene kits to health personnel, ASHA workers, Anganwadi workers and police administration in Jawhar and Mokhada blocks. They were provided with 3552 bottles of hand sanitisers, 1020 cloth masks, 3200 surgical masks and 4850 pairs of hand gloves.

Each family was given a ration kit consisting of 5 kg of Rice, 2 kg of Dal, 1 litre oil, ½ kg spices and salt, ½ kg sugar and tea and Soap bars.

The Dry Ration Kit

The Sarpanch and the local volunteers along with some villagers helped identify the settlements of the migrant families. The dry ration was picked up from the grocery stores who were permitted to remain open for supplies at the Taluka place. A tempo was hired for transport and our staff also used their own vehicles to transport the goods to the respective villages.

All the precautionary methods like hygiene, social distancing were maintained and a list of beneficiaries made for our records.

A considerable population is still left out in small pockets in various hamlets in and around Palghar, Mokhada and Dahanu block. Aroehan continues the good work of providing dry ration in these areas. Along with this our field workers continue to create awareness on hygiene, hand wash, social distancing and respiratory etiquette.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm, let us hope that ‘this will also pass’. The pandemic has forced countries to revisit their health systems and health care delivery. That’s the only silver lining.

In the meantime Aroehan team is relentlessly working to help the disadvantaged persons and families.

Vivek S Patwardhan

(And if you wish to join in our efforts by contributing to this cause, here are the details….. AROEHAN – Donor Account, HDFC Bank, A/c 50100299173910 IFSC Code HDFC 0002865)

Aroehan: Creating Dream Villages in Mokhada by 2025: “No Malnutrition Deaths, No ‘Out of School’ Child, Reduce migration by 50%.”