World NGO Day: CRY celebrates Indian NGOs that helped fight COVID-19 pandemic

On the occasion of World NGO Day, non-profit NGO Child Rights and You (CRY) looks at the role of NGOs in the development and progress of any society and country.
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The coronavirus pandemic has been the most challenging crisis the world has faced. In fact, it has been about a year since things took a turn when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world.

When the lockdown was announced in March 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on NGOs across India to help provide basic necessities to the underprivileged, supplying medical and protective gear, and creating awareness on social distancing during the lockdown.

Soon, we even saw announcements by NITI Aayog reaching out to about 90,000 NGOs and CSOs in the month of May further seeking their assistance. Following this, the Supreme Court appreciated their hard work in providing food, water, and transport during difficult times.

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, has also praised civil society and grassroots organisations for playing a role in combating the pandemic at the local level. According to him, NGOs bring economic and livelihood opportunities, and can adapt responses to the community context, as was highlighted in the Report on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19’.

Saluting the humongous efforts to support communities in weathering the crisis, Puja Marwaha, CEO, Child Rights and You (CRY), said,

“This World NGO Day, with all humility, we celebrate achievements of the flag-bearers of sustainable development and social change. The gritty efforts of the CSOs and NGOs become all the more significant if we keep in mind the fact that they themselves have been reeling under huge economic stress impacted by the pandemic.”

India fought back with all its might when the pandemic struck, despite being the second-most populated country in the world. To further assist their efforts, the government needed the help of the NGOs and CSOs, owing to their large volunteer base, but at the same time with utmost safety and hygienic practices.

‘Impact of COVID-19 on India’s non-profit organisations’, a report released by the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy (CSIP), Ashoka University, in June 2020, revealed that “three-fourths of the interviewed NPOs were actively engaged in ongoing relief work, using their embedded presence in communities as a particular strength. This work ranged from last-mile delivery of relief material such as dry ration and sanitation kits, community awareness and sensitisation, setting up health camps and isolation facilities, rescuing stranded labour, provision of direct cash transfers, to offering rehabilitation of the distressed communities.”

“In the wake of this deadly pandemic and the lockdown induced by it, our first thoughts were about how to reach out to our children and their communities. Top-most in our minds were the remotest regions of our operational areas and urban slums, their survival, safety, and their health. Therefore, during the lockdown period, CRY’s efforts have been concentrated on reaching all households as far as possible, with basic health and hygiene kits for the children and their families,” Puja said.

During the difficult times, CRY has also been spreading awareness, distributing relief materials, and advocating for the access and availability of services to the communities and children. Its awareness-building programmes included social distancing, best practices related to public health, hygiene, and behaviour change, sanitisation, use of face masks, following government guidelines during the lockdown period, and ways to protect people from community spreading of the coronavirus.

There is no doubt that the grit and resilience shown by civil society crusaders against COVID-19 are paramount. Though we are yet to see the end of the pandemic, it is key that the civil society organisations collaborate with the government in a constructive and meaningful way to enhance India’s preparedness to face any threat to the development of its society and people.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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