As India fights to stay afloat amidst the COVID 19 lockdown, the elderly are struggling to simply survive. Senior citizens make up about 9% of India’s population, according to the last Census. About half of them, around 53 million, are very poor, and cannot step out of their house now to earn their living.
Elders are at a higher risk especially the ones above the age of eight years. As per CDC, it is as high as 14.8%. For those above 70 years it is 8%. In India, government has been active in taking a number of steps.A call for compassion is the need of the hour. It is a time when all of us come together and work for the common good of the country, to help those in need.
The lockdown has already hurt the marginalized communities due to loss of income and scarcity of food, shelter, and basic necessities. This has left thousands of migrant workers stranded and with no job or income to sustain them during this country wide lockdown. Since the state borders are sealed, the supply of essential goods has been disrupted, leading to shortage and inflation of prices. The people who are hit hard the most are the elders, homeless and migrant workers since they have no place to go and no way to protect themselves.
During these hard times, HelpAge India is doing its part in reaching out to the elders, homeless and migrant daily wage laborers who are facing their toughest time right now.
It is very important that we create awareness and educate the people, especially those living in rural areas. HelpAge India is doing its part in reaching out to people and elders throughits Mobile Healthcare Units, both in rural and urban areas through Elder Self-Help Programs, MHU beneficiaries, old age homes and Senior Citizen Associations, making them aware about the precautionary methods to be adopted and safety measures to be taken against COVID-19.
Despite the challenges now on ground with the lockdown, our teams subject to Government and local authority permissions are now preparing the following:
- Family Survival Kits which include basic ration like Rice, Wheat, Spices, cooking oil etc. along with Corona protective gear like masks, bathing and washing soaps, for disadvantaged elders and their family of 5.
- Protective Hygiene Kits for our elders, to fight COVID 19 which includes Sanitizers, Mask, Tissues, and Hand wash etc.
- Free Meals to the homeless in night shelters, on roads, elders in old age homes, slums and migrant daily wage laborers who have nowhere and no one to turn to.
More than 80 percent of India’s workforce is employed in the informal sector compared to the one –third, that works as casual labourers and it is extremely crucial for the government to use it resources wisely so as to ensure delivery of services. The state governments across the country are making efforts to provide food and shelter for the homeless and migrant workers that are stranded and have no place to go.
There are however, some Ngo’s and organisations that have shown great initiatives, trying to ease the suffering of the marginalised groups in India during this global crisis. Some of them have even started campaigns to gather funds for the needy and homeless and organised volunteer services to help the elders of the country.
We can do our bit by contributing towards helping the elders, homeless and migrant workers by ensuring they provided for and ensure their well-being and safety to fight this global pandemic.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
– Leo Buscaglia