A COVID-19 update about the urgent situation in our India programs

POSTED May 10, 2021

A COVID-19 update about the urgent situation in our India programs

Our CEO shares the needs in a country where there are thousands of deaths due to COVID-19 reported daily

By Fred Witteveen, CEO,

Fred standing in park

Before I begin, I want to send my condolences, and extend my support, to our local staff and partners as well as the children and families we help in India. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you, and all of India, during this frightening second wave of COVID-19 in your country.

Upon writing this, there are more than 370,000 new cases of COVID and nearly 4,000 reported deaths daily in India, as recorded by the Indian government. To provide context: approximately 170,000,000 of the 1.3-billion people in the country are vaccinated from the disease.

This situation has affected Children Believe and partner staff gravely, with many having fallen ill. Most recently, we were saddened to hear of the passing of Titus Paul Cruz, the founding director of one of our implementing partner organizations, Integrated Rural Community Development Society. This is a significant loss to our Children Believe family.

Through this emotionally, mentally and physically taxing time, our team has been working to keep those we help, as well as themselves, safe. I want to thank them for their commitment, especially as they face personal illness and loss.

The second wave of COVID-19 in India has been far more damaging than the first. Consider that on Feb. 10 of this year there were 11,000 new cases daily, and by April 30 that count had swelled to more than 370,000, reports India’s HealthcareRadius publication. This time, children are being more directly affected, physically and mentally.

Those numbers are still low. We attribute that to sustained prevention messages our partners shared in our communities about how to stay safe and stop spread of the virus. That said, there are 450+ active reported cases in our programs — including 14 children — of the 160,000 community members we support. Our partners are working with families of the sick to refer them to the best place to get medical support; the home quarantined children and families are receiving psycho-social support and food rations, among other needs, through the community.

Apart from healthcare needs, we’re continuing to provide lifesaving education to protect against transmission of the virus, among support with the following, which are identified as current priorities.

  • Food: Cash transfers and rations will mean some children can have more than one meal a day.
  • Psycho-social support: We’re connected with community leaders to address child-protection issues, such as child marriages and child trafficking as well as anxiety and trauma.
  • Hygiene supplies: We’re providing PPE and identifying how to help with feminine products as lost income is leaving women and girls without basic necessities.
  • Vaccine rollout: supporting governments and agencies by enhancing vaccine rollout to the most vulnerable.

Our partners are also helping community members access government support and vaccines.

In the long-term, as we think about recovery, we’ll be working with partners to provide opportunities for livelihood development, and as children get back to school (they’re closed now), we’ll be working with teachers and the government to help children access virtual education in small groups through our creative learning centres.

Agility has become part of our working environment around the world, and it’s evident there’s no exception in India. I’ve seen how everyone’s wisdom is being put to use; colleagues are helping their peers and developing new innovations with our partners to drive greater impact and support more of the most vulnerable children, young people and adults.

Our psycho-social phone support evolved in this past year as the need arose, and a Go-Care app, which provides tips on COVID-19 awareness and protection, was another example of how we’re creating solutions as they’re needed.

Our team’s priority to the children and families we help hasn’t wavered. We’ll always be searching for the best ways to help them break barriers to access life’s essentials, so they can continue to live and dream fearlessly.

We’ll share more updates as they come, but don’t hesitate to call us with questions at 1.800.263.5437. You can also support this urgent need today. Donate now.

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Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60 years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

About ChildFund Alliance:

A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.