By Divya Mohan; Kiran Anjali Project Program Manager

Distributing Food Kits

We are living in unprecedented times. As I look around me, I grapple with my own insecurities and my desire to help the community around me.

March 25th is a date imprinted in Indian citizens’ minds. On this day, the government of India mandated a strict lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19. This led to an array of problems. Most of the families of our partner projects’ students are the daily wage earners, like auto-rickshaw drivers and maids. The lockdown does not permit travel for work or leaving personal residences. This has led to these families being caught between lockdown and hunger. In normal times these families rely on the nutritious meals their children receive at our partner projects. Due to the fact that schools are no longer in session, families are experiencing extreme food insecurity.

Working for the Kiran Anjali Project in India, I experienced first-hand the food insecurity faced by the youngest children served by our partner project, Carnation Learning Center. I felt responsible for finding solutions for these families during this time. Though I was a bit wary due to the risk of infection, I was uneasy knowing that these young children were going to bed hungry. During these times, we need to put our personal fears aside, have a positive attitude and support one another.

At the request of our partners in India, the Kiran Anjali Project set out to raise funds to help the families and children during the COVID-19 lockdown. Thanks to you – our donors – our Facebook and Give Big campaigns allowed us to grant emergency funds to provide much-needed food and medicine to families. Along with the frontline heroes of the Carnation Learning Center in Bangalore who had purchased, sorted, and packed food kits, the Carnation team and I distributed the food kits to each child’s family.

The magnitude of this emergency was apparent when I met the parents during the food kit distribution. Some of the families told me that they had not eaten anything in a week, as most of them lost their jobs and had no money to buy food. A few of them told me they were just having one or two meals a day, trying to utilize whatever ingredients they had left in their house, which was mostly rice and salt. The children were always hungry due to the fact that there was no food present at home. Even though the Indian government vowed to help, there were problems there as well. The quality of food was not good and those that didn’t have proper documentation did not receive food. Each family had a different story to tell, each leaving me unsettled.

One of the parents said “The government said they will give us food but we didn’t get anything. No one cares for us.” Most of the families had completely lost hope and felt helpless. The overall feeling expressed by the families was that if COVID-19 did not do them in, starvation would. These children and families survived by the food kit we provided.

Taking this experience and realizing that no matter what the health risk is, it is imperative to make sure these children have food, I reached out to all our partner projects and helped facilitate a plan to provide COVID relief to all the families of the children served.

Some quotes from the parents during the distribution of food kits:

“A huge thank you for giving us this ration. I was facing difficulties at home. My husband does not have a job now. Every day I wondered how I would feed my child but through these grocery items I can feed them now.”

— Anitha

“My husband is an auto-rickshaw driver. Since the lockdown, he has not been able to go for work. Here the government is not giving much help. We got 5kg rice from the government which is not even good quality but with no other means, we were eating it. Thank you so much for giving these ration items; we can have better food now.”

— Mariya

“I am the sole bread-earner of a family of three. My husband hardly takes the responsibility of a father or husband. I was really upset and helpless then suddenly I got a call from the school that we will be provided with food kits. I was so happy and relieved. Thank you to everyone.”

— Sandhya, who normally works as a maid

“Working on the ground with the partner projects gave me a chance to witness many smiling faces who were immensely relieved and thanked the Kiran Anjali Project for building their hopes to survive again. As it is truly said — when we have health, we have hopes. I am pleased to be working in an organization that made this possible”.

I truly hope that we return to some semblance of normal soon. I do know that if positive cases rise and lockdowns continue, I will be right there, on the front lines, doing what I can to help support the children and families.

Thank you, donors, for your generosity during these difficult times. Together we are making a huge difference!