The principle of participatory development is central to Seva Mandir’s philosophy. In rural and tribal communities, Seva Mandir builds and facilitates Village Institutions (VI) which are democratically elected to represent the needs of the entire community, regardless of gender, religion, class or caste. They lead the development of their villages, manage ongoing projects, support the community on social issues and administer a village development fund. There are currently 600 VIs with a membership of more than 67,500 men and women.
In the village of Hamerpal, the VI’s quick and strong action is protecting the community from Covid-19.
Hamerpal is over 85km from Udaipur city, located in the breath-taking Aravalli mountain range near the historic Kumbhalgarh fort. As with much of India, there has been a recent influx of migrant labourers returning to their rural homes after travelling, in some cases, hundreds of kilometres on foot. Not only have they lost the incomes that were so vital in supporting their families, but they also carry the risk of bringing Covid-19 back to their villages.
With the support of Seva Mandir, the VI in Hamerpal, as with many other villages, began conducting health checks on all returning migrants as soon as they arrived back in their village. Along with the local-level government panchayat, 45 families have been quarantined, and they are being provided with food, water and sanitation materials. At the time of writing, no cases of Covid-19 have been found in this area.
Many of the migrant labourers now see themselves as a burden. They have lost their jobs and cannot support their family financially. They are a potential source of infection, and, what is more, by returning they represent yet another mouth to feed. Seva Mandir is working in partnership with the VIs to focus on providing long-term livelihood support to migrants and their families, helping them to mitigate the effects of the economic downturn.
However, all families, even those not previously supported by a migrant labourer, are now struggling to access to the most vital necessities due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Seva Mandir’s response is to help VIs such as the one in Hamerpal to be vigilant in checking the health of all the families in the village and spreading awareness of Covid-19 and preventative measures. It is also delivering food and sanitation kits to be distributed throughout the communities. In Hamerpal, the VI has provided 30 families with food kits containing grains, vegetables, spices and oil – enough to last five people two weeks.
These kits give families who are most in need the vital supplies they need to survive the lockdown. You can keep up to date with Seva Mandir’s Covid-19 relief efforts now by clicking here.