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Coronavirus Crisis | Amphan Crisis: Our response

10320 women, 7561 girls were reached by Nishtha to combat the Coronavirus crisis and then the Amphan disaster.

Following health norms, social distancing regulations, getting proper government permissions Nishtha reached out to women and girls providing them relief and support. The women and girls not only needed material support but mental and emotional support to overcome the trauma and stress of the lockdown and its impact on their health, livelihood and more. The Amphan cyclone then broke havoc and South 24 Parganas was badly affected. Till now girls and women had a roof on their head, were able to communicate with each other through telephone and internet, were able to keep in touch with Nishtha. Now even that was lost!

The pandemic and the cyclone are not just health or natural disasters; they are mental disasters creating tremendous trauma and mental stress especially to women and girls. Violence against women was already on the rise during the pandemic now it is even more worrying. Women are facing domestic violence as aftermath of the economic instabilities of the households. Girls face the risk of getting trafficked, being married off early, emotionally weak. It troubles us to think that girls and women will soon become 'Missing Women'.

The women, girls, children are living in very difficult circumstance and the needs are many. Nishtha continues its relief work and support.

India fights Coronavirus and so does Nishtha
The lockdown situation and the social distancing brought with it a lot of challenges to the communities we work with. The biggest challenge is the number of people living in the villages without any work and money. Men were out of their work as daily labourers, small businessmen.... women could not travel to the city for their work as domestic help. Families were living on loans or without any food. The most important challenge that lockdown has put the families and the community into is the need for two square meals a day leave alone the need for masks or sanitation!

Secondly the living spaces do not encourage any hygienic practices with many families having no toilets or washrooms. Water is also scarce. Therefore the hand-washing practice encouraged to keep Covid at bay is a very difficult one for the families.

Another challenge within the challenge was the severe forms of discrimination and violence women and girls are/were facing. Even though men were at home, stereotypically women had to take care of home and children and the household work with no support from men. Young girls have become more vulnerable to incidences of rape, trafficking and even incidences of child marriage.

Girls and women associated with Nishtha have formed the Protection Circle so that even with social distancing in place, girl and women members of Nishtha shout at top of their voice so as to make other members, neighbours and families alert. Members continue to shout till they have been able to create a loud noise and the affected person has been able to temporarily get out of the position and then reach members, or Nishtha for further support and advice.

Nishtha's Amphan Response
Super Cyclonic Storm Amphan was a powerful and deadly tropical cyclone that caused widespread damage in West Bengal in May 2020. West Bengal, the epicenter of the cyclone's landfall, saw the most widespread damage from Amphan. The storm was considered the strongest to hit the region in over a decade.

Nishtha promptly has reached out to cyclone affected people with no roof on their heads, with no food, drinking water. Any support is too little for the people in South 24 Parganas who have been greatly affected by the cyclone and Nishtha is continuing to seek support from funders and well-wishers so that relief can be extended to more people.

Nishthahas till date reached villages of Bishnupur-1, Magrahat-2, Baruipur, Sonarpur and Namkhanablocks. We have so far reached 7561 girls, about 10320 women, grannies and single mothers. Material support has been through dry food packs, hygiene kits including sanitary napkins, drinking water, tarpaulins, etc.

This has been also possible withdedicated Nishtha team members who have in the fore-front of the relief work. We have the support of our funders and well-wishers and our own contributions that helped us make these initiatives possible.