“The support from the #COVIDActionCollab (CAC) reached us at the right time and it made a huge difference in our work when the pandemic hit in early 2020 because we were in dire need of assistance,” said Manorama Singh, Director of Berojgar Mahila Sewa Samiti (BMSS), a partner organization of CAC.
Based out of Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, BMMS was established in 1986 and it works in the areas of gender, health, education, and child and youth development among others.
Work during COVID-19
BMSS’ work came to a standstill during the first lockdown. “When the lockdown was imposed, everyone was scared to step out. We stayed indoors for three days and felt suffocated. However, unlike many others, we could not have stayed inside our homes beyond that because the community members we work with, needed us. We realized that we had to take action and staying in was not an option for us. With the permission from the district administration, we then deployed volunteers on the ground to prepare the community to face the situation,” she shared.
During the second wave, hospitals lacked adequate oxygen supply and space for accommodating the patients. “Everyone we knew was affected by the virus,” recalled Manorama. However, with the support we received at that time, BMSS was able to isolate the patients who couldn’t be admitted to the hospital, and provide them with oxygen, medicines, adequate nutrition, and counseling. We appointed professionals to provide counseling support to the community members and patients because the series of events that took place during that time inflicted a sense of fear among them. “We conducted health camps during this time through which many individuals benefitted. CAC helped us in providing timely care, medicines, dry ration, and counseling to the community members,” shared Manorama.
BMMS also initiated a vaccination awareness programme for its community members. The role played by the Self Help Group (SHG) that BMSS works with during this time was crucial. “The women from the SHG made sure that everyone in their families and neighborhood was vaccinated, helping us in reaching many people,” Manorama added.
Their next focus was resuming work on social protection to ensure that the government schemes meant for the community members reached them. They acted as an intermediary between the government and the beneficiaries by facilitating the implementation of many schemes.
“The need of the hour is to make the community resilient. Now what we plan to do is focus on livelihood. We intend to work on the available local resources so that generating income for the community members is possible. For example, we have resources from the forests using which we can develop products that can be sold in the markets so that our community members, especially women, have a steady income and the education of their children isn’t affected and their health-related needs are also taken care of,” Manorama said.
CAC x BMSS
“In my 36 years of journey with BMSS, I have never faced a situation similar to the pandemic. Had it not been for the support we received from COVIDActionCollab (CAC), we would have faced many challenges. CAC provided us with financial support, medicine, and dry ration kits for the community members. Our staff received consistent training via online platforms, and we spent hours learning from meetings with experts. These meetings not only helped us in extending support to those in need but also saved time, energy, and money. This boosted the morale of our staff and we were able to contribute well at work,” Manorama Singh shared.
CAC’s collaboration with organizations such as BMSS has brought about changes in the lives of many. Through a network of over 350 partner organizations, we have provided 17 million service instances to vulnerable populations across the country. Providing timely support is crucial when it comes to vulnerable populations, and through our work, we aim to make them resilient to adversities of all kinds.