SIAAP COVID 19 RESPONSE
As an immediate response to COVID 19 crisis situation, we reached out to our core constituencies –(i) adolescent girls and boys and their families in Ernavur, Chennai, (ii) female sex workers across Tamil Nadu state, and (iii) children in institutional care in Ranipet, Vellore district, who have been sent back to their families during this epidemic. Our core objective was to support them with information on COVID 19, counselling, access to food and medicines, and emergency services, if required.
Malarkal – Youth transformation, redefined!
We work with adolescent girls and their families, in Tsunami Quarters, Ernavur (North Madras). As we could not visit people in the area due to COVID 19 related lockdown, we connected with them over phone ad understood the crisis for groceries, as several (above 600) families we were in touch did not have ration cards. The vast majority of the people we spoke with were daily wagers, (fishermen, auto drivers, load men, electricians, painters, carpenters, and construction workers) who have been unable to go to work during the lockdown. With the support of Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives (APPI), Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC), and Individual donors, we managed to provide basic ration to 991 families.
The people in the locality live in close proximity and are at high risk for Corona Virus. When we call them up for awareness creation and risk reduction, we hear their difficulties in managing families without any income due to lockdown and to quote, “we are not afraid of COVID… we fear that we may die out of hunger”. We continue to provide ration for women headed families, old people, differently abled, and have offered mental health and psychosocial support to 457 families. We are in close association with the Slum Clearance Board and the Greater Chennai Corporation in coordination of relief materials, and in supporting their initiatives to engage adolescents (drawing) and people (planting of saplings) in the area.
Equitable, Confidential, and Comprehensive healthcare services for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Breast and Cervical Cancer, and Mental Health services for Sex Workers.
The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has wreaked complete havoc on the livelihood and wellbeing of sex workers lasting much into the foreseeable future due to social distancing norms. In this situation, we realised that sex workers needed support for three essential areas on an emergency basis: Food, medicines and mental health support.
SIAAP and the Vadamalar Federation of Sex worker CBOs immediately mobilised funds from the National Network of Sex Workers (NNSW), funding organisations, individual donors, and government bodies, and provided emergency ration kits to 563 sex workers all over Tamil Nadu. These ration kits contained food items that would keep them well nourished for at least 2 months. Sex workers were supported to procure medication for co-morbidities of the coronavirus such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma and HIV. People with HIV were linked with the respective District Program Managers (DPM) of the District AIDS Protection and Control Units (DAPCUs) to stock up on their ART medication for the next 3 months. Sex workers are also experiencing anxiety and depression because of the inability to take care of their families, loneliness and concern about the bleak future. SIAAP and Vadamalar have been in constant touch with sex workers through phone and offered group as well as individual counselling.
In order to reach more women in distress, we conducted refresher training among sex workers who were already trained as counsellors. Over the past 3 months, we have provided psychosocial to about 220 sex workers in the past 3 months. In addition to counselling, our psychosocial support included awareness about the covid-19 virus and networking with other sex worker collectives and experts to understand and think of possibilities to come out of this situation without more struggle.
Promoting Re-integration of Children under institutional care and preventing re-institutionalisation
‘Reintegration of children in institutional care’, is SIAAP’s pilot project (Phase-2) supported by Department of Social Defence, Government of Tamil Nadu and UNICEF, implemented at the Government Children’s Home for Boys, Ranipet. Due to COVID 19, the children were sent to their families. As a response, we extended psychosocial support to 64 children part of the Institution and their families during the lockdown. We learned about the emerging psychological issues faced by children, and the need for groceries, through our regular support calls. Based on the need, we arranged for dry ration kits to 43 families of the children, twice, first with the support from the Government (District Child Protection Units of Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Vizhupuram and Chennai districts) and second round through SIAAP donations. We also provided online refresher training to 32 counsellors of the District Child Protection Units on ‘COVID19 medical facts and tele-counselling’.