Can you imagine sensing uncertainty and panic around you, but not being able to look to your family and loved ones for comfort? Can you imagine not knowing when you will get your next meal, and having no control over it? Can you imagine being entirely dependent on the generosity of the community you live in, only to find that community go amiss when you need it the most?
Mainstream conversations about the humanitarian crisis that the COVID-19 lockdown has triggered largely forgot about the children who are bereft of any form of support. The worst off are those who are outside the care and protection of families, i.e., children who rely entirely on the community around them to protect them. There are approximately 2 crore such children in India who do not have families to care for them and are classified as vulnerable, in need of care and protection.
Guardians of Dreams, a Bangalore based non-profit recently conducted a COVID Outreach which revealed that several Child Care Institutions like orphanages and shelter homes which provide care and protection to the most vulnerable children have been hit badly due to this crisis. Most of these Institutions rely on regular or one-time donors, and the COVID lockdown has taken away both these sets.
With the enforcement of the lockdown, the homes no longer see the walk-in donors they used to depend on. Since they’ve stopped receiving in-kind donations, they are struggling to make ends meet and provide for the large number of children that live under their roofs. Some have compromised on staff salaries to pay for this, while others were simply at a loss for what to do.
-Navneeth Kumar, Program Director at Guardians of Dreams
Take the case of a children’s home in Bengaluru whose key donor sponsored 50% of their annual budget. Being based in the UK, they are now unable to send funds because of their own country’s health crisis. Another children’s home in Chennai support children with special needs and have been forced to stop the services of their trained, skilled staff. While some essential services like foodstuffs and dairy can assure a cash inflow when they go back to work, the staff in these homes — who are essential components of the children’s support structure — have no way to support their efforts.
To counter this situation, Guardians of Dreams set up a Covid Relief Fund for Shelter Homes that will provide essential provisions, groceries and financial support to shelter homes & orphanages that are in dire need. Now, more than ever in the recent past, there is an urgent need for ‘the community’ to extend itself further, beyond geographical confines, in order to create a safety net for children who live outside the family unit. Today, you can contribute to the Covid Relief Fund for Shelter Homes and help protect some of this country’s most vulnerable children.
While the Guardians of Dreams network is limited to Bangalore, Chennai and Cochin, the same challenges exist for numerous Child Care Institutions across the country. Perhaps there’s a shelter home in your own locality that has run out of funds or needs help connecting to existing relief-efforts. Where concerted efforts are amiss, perhaps you can petition your local MLA to organise a collection. For children that have had to rely on generosity and goodwill from a certain community around them to stay alive, the onus needs to be extended on humanitarian grounds. After all, the only way we will really see this lockdown and pandemic through is together, as one community.
Given the vulnerability of minors, we have refrained from disclosing details about the child care institutions involved as a safety precaution. However, if you would like to know more about the Guardians of Dreams’ work, you can reach out to the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or +91 7769800256 (Navneeth Kumar).
About Guardians of Dreams: A non-profit organisation (based in Bangalore) working to improve the living conditions of children across Child Care Institutions like orphanages and shelter homes in Bangalore, Chennai and Cochin.