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Naman Seva Samiti (NSS) is an organization based out of Betul in Madhya Pradesh. It has been working for 23 years in Madhya Pradesh and has its footprint spread across three different states in India. They partnered with #COVIDActionCollab during the COVID-19 crisis and have helped in getting the most vulnerable communities vaccinated in the areas.

NSS works closely with farmers, daily wage earners, Persons with Disabilities and Senior citizens and has transformed marginalized communities in Madhya Pradesh to be independent and self-reliant. During the course of the pandemic, they recognized Persons with Disabilities and Senior Citizens to be one of the most vulnerable populations and laid special focus on them. The work of NSS on the COVID vaccination and relief front has been focused in and around the areas of Betul, Chinndwara and other parts of Madhya Pradesh.

A typical day in the lives of field workers at NSS comprises data collection, door-to-door meeting/counseling, guaranteeing relief and access to vaccinations wherever needed the most. The biggest challenge has been the difficulty with logistics for the Senior Citizens and Persons with Disabilities for getting vaccinated and the team of NSS has been making every effort to overcome it.

Hemlata, Coordinator of Betul who works on the ground, talks about overcoming these challenges by bridging the gaps in every way they possibly can. “Wo nahi aa paa rahe the centre takk, toh hum hi nurse madam ko leke pahuch gaye teeka lagwane.” (Me along with the nurse reached them, since they could not reach the center to get vaccinated). Another field worker narrates how difficult it was to convince people with Non-Communicable Diseases to get vaccinated. The on-field staff had to counsel the patients and their families repeatedly to get them vaccinated. The fear of fatality was very high among the people, especially those with comorbidities.

NSS has been working to build inclusive communities for Persons with Disabilities. Hence, instances of inaccessibility of information and services leading to poor awareness about vaccination among Persons with Disabilities made the organization and its workers take special interest in the matter, and work closely with the authorities to ensure that persons with disabilities are able to avail vaccination services. One such case was that of a mother with her two young adults, both Persons with Disabilities. To get them vaccinated, she visited the centre twice however due to errors in documentation, center timings, etc., the vaccination could not be done. NSS supported the woman, facilitated documentation, transportation and vaccination for the two, which ultimately ensured safety for all and was a great relief for the mother. Interventions like this ensure access to vaccination services by working closely with the government.

Shishir Kumar, Director of NSS, talking about the future, the situation of COVID and the needs of the people today, said, “Bhavishya kisne dekha hai?” (Who knows what the future holds). He said that reserving the resources for the worst, booster doses for everyone by September and ensuring safety of the community by making them aware of the changing nature of the disease and our response to it, will remain our way forward. Amongst a whole lot of other things that NSS does on the ground, ensuring the safety of the community as a whole remains their top priority.

The collaborative has been helping partners in going the extra mile and ensuring that together we reach the most vulnerable communities and help them bounce forward.