The spread of coronavirus represents the global health crisis of our time and, like you, I find myself having to manage an unprecedented and constantly changing situation.
Job insecurity, cancelled plans and, most importantly, concern about our loved ones and those with underlying health conditions means that we are all struggling. I sincerely hope that you are able to access the support you need to stay well and to protect yourself and others during this time.
As I write, India and Nepal have gone into lockdown. As a charity that works with the poorest and most marginalised communities there, I feel deeply concerned for their health and wellbeing. These communities, among the most vulnerable anywhere in the world, will be strongly affected by this global crisis. Lower standards of healthcare, education and inescapably close proximity to others will be among some of the main factors that will make containing the virus in India and Nepal incredibly challenging.
Right now your support means more than ever, and will be crucial in the weeks and months to come. Thank you for staying with us. I’d like to give an update about how the situation is affecting us and I hope to provide more updates in the future as we know more.
Our UK Operations
The way Karuna fundraises is face-to-face and door-to-door. In early March, we stopped all fundraising in this manner in order to protect both our fundraisers and the public. This will have a very significant impact on our income and our ability to work with the poorest communities.
Despite this crisis, we will still endeavour to support our partners and retain our staff. Thanks to remote working technology we are able to continue operations in the UK. Your regular donation will be processed as normal and we are still available for any queries or questions. I am sure you will understand that we may need a little bit longer than normal to respond in the way we would want to.
We took the decision earlier in the month to temporarily shut all of our hostels in order to protect the students and staff as well as cancel any international or unnecessary travel. As you may have heard, India and Nepal have now gone into complete lockdown, leaving millions of daily wage labourers in an extremely precarious position; many now have no income and no access to even the most basic healthcare facilities or health advice. For the millions in poverty living hand-to-mouth daily, the next meal for their family and themselves is uncertain.
We and our partners have been quick to see the urgent need and respond in effect:
- In Madhya Pradesh we are working to help more than 100,000 migrant construction workers who have been laid off to access emergency Government welfare.
- In Bihar our project workers have been going from village to village distributing basic sanitation kits and information about sanitation. Following the lockdown health advice will be provided remotely.
- In Pune as soon as the lockdown permits we are planning to distribute emergency food rations to daily wage labourers who have lost their livelihoods.
- In Southern Nepal we have been carrying out health awareness campaigns through women’s groups and networks of local health visitors. Following the lockdown these will be continued remotely via online communication.
- In West Bengal the markets in rural areas have closed and people are facing shortages of food and safe drinking water. We have launched a phone-based health awareness campaign advising village leaders on virus prevention.
Details as to how precisely all of our projects are being affected are still coming in and changing by the day. As the crisis deepens the changing needs will become apparent and we will reallocate funds as necessary.
Thank you for the support you already give. In order to meet this crisis properly, we are launching an urgent appeal – our biggest ever. If you are in a position to make a donation to help us support those most affected by this crisis, please do so here.
Ciaran Maguire, CEO