Yes, it’s had a major impact on our work. Last year there were virtually no infections in the communities we serve, but during this second wave, we’re seeing 30 to 40 new cases a day. During the first phase, our team visited 19 villages and conducted an emergency needs assessment. We deployed a rapid response including food and water rations. We held 128 handwashing and Covid-19 prevention trainings in small groups, and our water trucks made emergency deliveries to 6,000 families. We also trained women in our Self Help Groups to sew masks for their communities.
In 2021 we launched our second wave of Covid-19 response. We are providing oxygen concentrators to local health centers as well as wellness kits (containing oximeters, thermometers, oral swab tests, and paracetamol) for patients to take home. We are also mobilizing an ambulance for emergency transport to larger hospitals in Bikaner and Jodhpur. Finally, we recently launched an initiative to try to get vaccines to the area.
It is such a dangerous time for girls right now. A lot of men are out of work, so they are marrying their daughters off. And during lockdown many girls have dropped out of school. We were beginning to see larger perspective shifts around the value of educating girls, but because of the crisis right now, families are reverting to the previous model of marrying their girls at a young age. Those girls not getting educated is a huge setback not only for the girls and their families but also for the larger economy. Uneducated girls don’t work, but girls with an education often teach or start their own businesses. So a huge need moving forward will be reconnecting with those girls and re-enrolling them in school.
To learn more about WomanServe’s life-sustaining work in India, watch Annabella Funk’s film The Girls of the Desert.