Today we are faced with the Covid-19 virus that has disrupted and uprooted our way of life. With 4.28 million cases and 292 000 deaths being recorded worldwide, cities around the globe are in a stand still. The people most affected by this virus are the most vulnerable and in the most need of international solidarity and assistance. We are both former Ecolint students from the Class of 2019, and current university students that are stuck at home with nothing to do and hope to help those that need it most.
In India, the Covid-19 crisis is devastating. There are 23 000 recorded cases and most likely a lot more that have not been tested or registered. As a result, on the 25th of March the Indian government announced a 21-day lockdown, and as of the 14th of April the lockdown was extended until the 3rd of May. Despite this being the appropriate measure, it leaves the 65 million daily wage workers that work in the informal sector and survive off a few rupees a day in an extremely vulnerable position. They have no guarantee of where their next meal will come from. As their usual daily income is just enough to sustain their daily dietary and household needs, daily wage workers are unable to feed themselves. This means that they are as vulnerable to starvation as they are to the virus.
We are members of a team working on the online Daily Wage Worker platform. This platform provides information about relief efforts across India to support 65 million migrants and daily wage workers. Our aim is to connect the dots so that governments, corporations, and NGOs can come together to make a real impact. The platform provides all development partners a virtual mechanism to coordinate efforts, share experiences and promote public private partnerships. There are many charities out there working hard but they need more funding and better organization. The aim of the platform is to help scale these efforts up.
One of the projects that we are concentrating on deals with Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum. With a population density of 270 000 people per km2 it is nearly impossible to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the area. Social distancing is a luxury and in Dharavi it is simply not possible. Therefore, the slum has sadly become a hotspot for Covid-19.
We have partnered with the amazing NGO, Dharavi Diaries, who have been invaluable in collecting ration requests, creating a database, and distributing to the most needy. They are based and operate within Dharavi and are essential in helping us deliver the ration kits on the ground.
Our goal in the next couple of weeks is to raise 100,000 USD for Dharavi. The sum of 100,000 USD will provide 48,000 people with 13,44,000 meals. A GoFund me page can be accessed easily from our website, and we are hoping to collect as many local donations, big or small, to achieve our goal. These donations are not abstract, intangible contributions, each cent goes towards putting together an essential kit. Each kit covers one family of seven for 15 days and includes 10kg of rice, 5kg of atta flour, 1 litre of oil, 2kg of daal, and 2 bars of soap.
We would be very grateful to any member of the Ecolint community who can circulate our website, our Dharavi Project, and/or would be willing to make any form of contribution, whether financial or simply showing support.
-Haakon Lim and Sofia Mareque