In interior Tamil Nadu, district governors are holding zonal meetings and coordinating with their assistant governors entrusted with monitoring COVID-19 relief efforts at their club-level. DG N Manimaran, RID 2981, has instructed all the 114 clubs across 19 zones to distribute N-95 and basic masks to doctors, paramedics, healthcare workers, sanitary workers and volunteers on a war-footing. “So far, we would have distributed 10,000 N-95 masks to doctors, nurses and other staff at government hospitals and 50,000 basic masks to ordinary people including roadside vendors and vegetable sellers,” says Manimaran.
More than 10,000 hand sanitisers were provided to scavengers, sellers in the local markets, health volunteers and sanitary workers. “Rotarians are collecting funds to purchase and distribute these hygiene products across the district.” On a bigger scale, food packets were distributed to policemen, the poor, daily wagers, healthcare workers and sanitary staff of the civic bodies and this will continue till the lockdown is lifted, he says.
Grocery at doorsteps
The Rotarians across Tamil Nadu joined hands with volunteer groups to provide vegetables and foodgrains from ration shops at the doorsteps of residents. RID 2981 has applied for a global grant for the purchase of 15 ventilators and “these will be delivered to the district hospitals once we receive them.” RC Mannargudi, RID 2981, has accommodated 15 ironsmith families from North India in a college hall and they were given free meals three times a day, says DGE Balaji Babu. “With the invocation of Sec 144, they had no option but to abandon their iron casting work and they now rely on the food being offered by the club.”
More than 100 Rotarians are on the field to distribute food packets to slums and migrant colonies in RID 3000.
Fifty-six artisans from Rajasthan, including women and children who were making Plaster of Paris icons and statues of gods, goddesses and other artefacts, were evicted from roadside after the shutdown. “They are now being sheltered in a temple and food is being given by RC Vriddhachalam,” says Babu.
All the 20 clubs in Salem have come together for a joint fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, says DG A K Natesan, RID 2982. “They provide free food to over 400 patients at the government hospital, distribute face masks at people’s homes and are preparing a database of those suspected to be infected with this virus and the information compiled will be passed on to the government,” says the DG.
Following a request from Dr Dhanapal, the Medical Superindendent at the Mohan Kumaramangalam Medical College and Hospital (GH, Salem), Rotary will be donating an electric battery-operated ambulance worth ₹7 lakh from the District Designated Fund.
RID 2982 will be delivering 1,000 units of PPE kits (protective suits against COVID-19) to seven government hospitals across revenue districts, besides 500 N-95 masks to doctors, paramedics, and 10,000 three-layered masks to sanitary workers, health volunteers, vendors and others. RC Komarapalayam has donated 1,000 masks to municipal officials and conservancy workers. “We are trying to procure 10 ventilators following a request from a senior official of the State Health Department for such units at the isolation wards of corona patients,” says Dr Natesan. They will also be installing at least 200 handwash sanitising stations at malls, bus terminuses, railway stations, vegetable markets and other crowded places as a precautionary step against the virus.
Consisting of 68 clubs across 12 zones, this district relief work against the coronavirus is being monitored with regular zonal meetings conducted through video conference to take stock of the situation. “I have already done three video conferences with my AGs to activate relief efforts against the pandemic and more steps including campaigns and relief distribution will be taken up,” says Dr Natesan. The clubs in Hosur are providing face masks, hand sanitisers and daily food to some migrant workers of factories that have shutdown, but whose owners have allowed the labourers to stay on the premises with their families, he added.
DG Dr A Zameer Pasha, RID 3000, has instructed the clubs and Rotarians to provide food packets to migrant workers hit hard by the lockdown. “More than 100 Rotarians are on the field to distribute food packets to slums and migrant colonies. Their work is being monitored by 28 AGs who report such activities to seven Regional Coordinators. On an average, we distribute 2,500 food packets a day across the eight revenue districts,” says D Thirunavukkarasu, District General Secretary.
PPE kits, sanitisers, masks
The district clubs are providing 10 five-litre sanitiser cans and 5,000 face masks each to eight government hospitals in the region. “We are also giving 500 PPE protective suits to 10 isolation wards in Trichy and Madurai,” says DG Pasha. Both the district general secretary and executive secretary Jaspreet Singh Sonu brief DG Pasha on the relief work being carried out by the district clubs on a daily basis.
Moreover, DG Pasha has applied for a global grant of $25,000 under the Rotary Disaster Response Grant from TRF and “once the amount is sanctioned, we will purchase 25 ventilators and more PPE kits which are in great demand in this region,” says Dr Pasha.
DG Pasha has sent out his recorded audio message which is being aired through the public address systems fitted on the mini-trucks used for garbage clearance at municipalities and panchayats. “The anti-coronavirus audio clip, delivered to clubs through 150 pen drives, focuses on maintaining isolation, social distancing and obeying other government measures enforced to keep people safe,” says the DG.
RC Pondicherry Cosmos helps tribals, migrant workers fight hunger
Just after the lockdown was imposed on March 25, RC Pondicherry Cosmos, RID 2982, began with locating displaced people living in camps, pregnant and lactating women from underprivileged backgrounds, unattended elderly and disabled people. “Vulnerable and undernourished communities are at even greater risk of contracting coronavirus,” says Club President A Senthil.
The Rotarians distributed face masks and sanitisers to sanitation workers and police personnel on patrol duty and people coming to receive food packets at the distribution points.
When some Rotarians came across a Narikurava (a tribe in S India that sells bead jewellery to tourists for livelihood) man standing in line for food packet, they asked him the whereabouts of his community members. “We were shocked to know that he was going to share two packets of food with a family of 12 people.” Arrangements were made immediately and the club is continuing its supply of food packets to the tribal community living near the ECR – Pondicherry highway. The tribal children now recognise Ashok, a volunteer who brings food packets for them as ‘Mask uncle.’
The community kitchen has been set up at the club manager Sivakumar’s residence. “We provided homemade food prepared by our club members to around 150 people stranded at the Rajiv Gandhi Government Women and Children Hospital. Most of them are from neighbouring districts and couldn’t go back home as trains and buses stopped running.”
Senthil wishes that the club could do more than giving migrant labourers just masks and food packets. “Many of them are planning to return to their homes on foot as their accommodation is not arranged. This puts their lives at great risk.”
The club plans to provide breakfast and masks to sanitation workers till the end of the lockdown. Other Rotary and Rotaract clubs have also joined in the initiative. RC Pondicherry Midtown handed over ₹1 lakh to the CM’s Relief Fund.