Webinar on Promoting Community Volunteers: Serving the Society in Covid19


We have to convert fear into opportunity: Dipanker Shri Gyan
On the occasion of 'World Environment Day' Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti organised a Webinar on Promoting Community Volunteers: Serving the Society in Covid-19 on June 5, 2020. Almost 46 participants from Uttarakhand, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Indore, West Bengal, Bihar and New Delhi took part in the programme and shared the initiatives they took in their respective areas during COVID-19 as ‘Covid Warriors’. The technical support was provided by Ms. Prerna during the discussion.
Sharing his experiences, Mr. Shakeel Khan of GSDS informed how he and his team helped children from Bihar below fifteen years reach their home by making arrangement of bus and taking care of their food expenses during their journey back home.
Shri C P Joshi from Dastak Samajik Sansthan in Dwarahat Uttarakhand informed that their organization reached almost twenty districts and helped 127 families by distribution of food and ration settled in the remote areas of their state. He further informed that they had distributed about 750 masks and also helped the specially-abled people. Shri Joshi said that Covid-19 has taught humanity a lesson not to respect nature.
Shri Gulshal Gupta, Coordinator North East Programmes of GSDS who moderated the session spoke of Shri Rajendra Negi of the same organization who have been regularly taking yoga sessions with patients in the quarantine centres at Rudraprayag.
Ms. Sadia Afreen of Nari O Shishu Kalyan Kendra West Bengal also spoke about the initiatives the Kendra has undertaken to reach out to the people in need even in the remote areas and in Howrah, which has been badly affected by the pandemic. She also informed about the recent cyclone Amphan that has rocked West Bengal and said that the organization has begun the relief work at the same time. She further informed that they have started tele-calling in association with ‘Save The Children’ organization and 1000 people were distributed dry rations and sanitary napkins.
Joining the conversation further, Mr. Rahul Pareek informed through statistics about the number of families they have been able to reach so far since the beginning of March when the lockdown was announced. He said their volunteers of their organization have been able to distribute ration to almost 19000 families and till date almost 3750 masks have been distributed. They have also been able to conduct on-line classes for almost 26500 needy children of their region.
Dr. Sanjay Tiwari, Member of the Indian Sociological Society and Director of UP Sports Authority of India said that in order to boost up the morale of sportspersons who are without any form of training, etc, they organised several on-line workshops with leading sports personalities like P T Usha, Anju Bobby George and others. They have also undertaken the initiative of mass distribution to the needy.
Mr. Rihan Ali of Assam acknowledged the role of many people from far and wide who have joined them in their work to support families which Rihan and his friend Himanshu Sharma had never met earlier but who after initial hitch accepted them and their help. They have so far reached 750 families in an around several districts of Assam. Rihan also informed about their initiatives with the folk/local artistes who have been victims of this pandemic and have been documenting their art and music. They have a plan to start uploading their videos on social media for fund generation.
Mr. Prosenjit Roy Choudhury from Silchar Assam who is also associated with Sanskar Bharati has also been taking care of artistes and in this period they have created a database of 350 artistes. He informed that stage artistes who would get between rupees one-two lacs have also ran into difficulty and Mr. Roy Choudhury along with his team have reached out to those artistes.
Sharing his reflections in this period of the pandemic, Mr. Neeraj Soni from Uttar Pradesh said that farmers also have been hugely affected during this period and he along with his team has been working to provide food to these families. They have also provided seeds for future cropping and they are planning to create a ‘seed bank’ for providing good quality seed to the farmers.
Formerly associated with the GSDS and active in the social field, Ms. Rita Kumari spoke about her initiatives with the domestic workers and how farming in the banks of the Yamuna in Delhi has stopped, which has affected such families. She along with her close associates are closely monitoring this situation and providing aids to these families. Ms. Rita have also helped people like Rihan Ali in their endeavours in the North East by generating funds.
Dr. Manju Aggarwal spoke of her simple efforts in providing medical aid to families in need with the Resident Welfare Association in her area. Similarly Ms. Renu Sharma of Beti and Shiksha Foundation who is also an entrepreneur has taken care of quite a number of the jeweler community.
In her reflections, Dr. O Sareeta Devi of Kasturba Gandhi Institute of Development in Manipur said that Covid 19 has taught the spirit of volunteerism to people of all age groups once again. She informed that her centre along with the help of volunteers has started on-line delivery of fresh vegetables. In their support to the artisans and their craft, KGID endeavoured in buying the crafts of the artisans so that they do not face financial problems.
Speaking about fear amongst villagers which often turn into violence when they see anybody from the city enter their village thinking that the person is the pandemic, Shri Hardayal Khushwaha from Bargad said that while he started his work in the city, he later moved to his village in Madhya Pradesh and started working with the Gram Panchayats and District Administration in raising awareness about the disease and how it could be prevented. He has also made an attempt in taking this initiative to nearby districts too.
In his concluding remarks, Director GSDS, Shri Dipanker Shri Gyan reiterated the sentiments of the experiences shared by the participants and applauded their efforts in connecting with many unknown people in this period and hoped this association develops into long lasting relationships for working together for the betterment of the society. He also expressed his concern about the unorganized sector and of those who haven’t migrated and lost their job too and appealed the partners to start working on these lines. “We have to create resources for people who have gone back in order to fill the gap”, he said. He further added, “While Covid -19 has created a fear, but it has also taught people to convert fear into opportunity”. Saying that the environment has rejuvenated, he hoped that the world, post Covid-19, takes up a campaign to have a 15-day lockdown every year for the environment to rejuvenate.
While appreciating the efforts of all, he also mentioned about people like Ms. Prerna who has been taking care of the stray and street animals. Others like Rajdeep Pathak shared a few of the GSDS initiatives during the discussion.
Shri Dipanker Shri Gyan also hoped for a near future e-conference on creating opportunities and self reliance (Atmanirbhar Bharat) on Gandhian principles of Gram Swaraj for evolving strategies for creating a model of Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of a village of self-reliant people. Many participants shared their humble initiatives of making incense sticks, urban farming etc through which they have created employment for others.