New York: With the coronavirus outbreak the shortage of masks and sanitizers became apparent in early March. Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation with its presence in over 103,000 remote hamlets of India banded together its tailoring training centers and started stitching facemasks and producing hand sanitizers for Ekal volunteers, district health workers and law enforcement personnel.
It had been producing 10,000 masks and 1,000 liters of hand-sanitizers or disinfecting solutions per day as of March-end and supplying them free-of-cost to the authorities. Masks and sanitizers are also being distributed free-of-cost to the poor families. It costs Ekal Rs. 20 each to make it and to distribute it.
According to Bajrang Lal Bagra, CEO of “Ekal Abhiyan” (umbrella organization of all Ekal satellite endeavors), Ekal has launched an ambitious plan to triple its tailoring capacity in 28 centers to produce 1 million cotton masks by the end of April 2020. These 2-ply masks are being made to WHO’s stringent specifications and Ekal plans to keep on producing them as long as there is need.
As part of empowerment and to reduce the dependency on outside food, Ekal-Villages have actively started harvesting ‘Poshan Vatikas’ (nutritional sustaining food items) for the people in their own vicinity on cooperative basis. Keeping up with the governmental directive, although all Ekal field activities were suspended on March 14, according to Lalan Kumar Sharma, central co-coordinator of “Ekal Abhiyan”, their awareness campaign against the deadly virus is in full motion working hand in hand with the local concerned authorities.
Currently, ‘Arogya Sahayikas’ (health assistants) and Ekal teachers are not only emphasizing the critical need for personal hygiene and clean environment in villages, but also, keeping a written tab on cases related to fever, cough and shortness of breath. Supporting the efforts of ‘Gram-Panchayats’ (village administration), identifying and quantifying urban visitors or returning villagers from such areas is being diligently carried out.
Harish Karat of Ekal-Global says, “As a reminder of the precautionary habits one must adopt to arrest the spread of coronavirus, the walls in lot of village-dwellings are being painted with healthcare slogans.”
What is interesting is that villagers have enthusiastically endorsed this campaign as one of the safeguards in the current crisis. Ekal volunteers residing in Indian urban areas are helping older, poor people during these clampdown days providing food or sustenance items wherever possible.
Ekal-USA is providing assistance to the needy in a variety of ways – such as food, mask-making, grocery-items and medical help etc. Ekal volunteers in USA are assisting food-banks, soup-kitchen and delivery of groceries to the elderly. According to Suresh Iyer, president of Ekal-USA, “In the US, Ekal has partnered with other non-profit organizations, including Sewa International, in providing community service at this hour of immense need. It’s times such as these we are seeing the best of humanity and I am confident that we will get through this difficult time soon and come out feeling even stronger.” Though all the annual fund-raising concerts have been cancelled currently for the foreseeable future, ‘Ekal Vidyalaya’ is appealing to its loyal donors and well-wishers to keep supporting its multiple projects in rural areas. Kindly donate at https://www.ekal.org/us/donate