The nationwide lockdown due to the novel Coronavirus has left millions across the nation struggling for food or shelter, with little to no source of livelihood. Every day the country wakes up to stories of hunger and deprivation. It is one such story that our founder, Anurag Trivedi, witnessed which led to Antyoday journey.
One morning, during the initial days of government mandate COVID lockdown, Anurag was about to have his breakfast in his Gurgaon abode when he heard a commotion outside his home. So he went to his balcony to inquire about the commotion's source, and then his eyes witnessed a scene that pierced through his heart. He saw a large group of people running behind a food distribution vehicle. This had a profound impact on him. He was hit with the realization of how bad the situation is for our poor brothers and sisters during this pandemic. He also realized that the time for action is "Now" and so he decided to help the Government with their efforts to curb this nationwide food emergency. With self-funding, Anurag started the initiative in Gurugram, where he runs his IAS coaching centre and then later in Unnao district of Bichiya block, Uttar Pradesh.
Keeping in alignment with the Government of India scheme of a similar namesake- Antyodaya Anna Yojana, we at Shaan Foundation, started the Antyoday program to provide ration to the financially struggling families. We curated specially designed food kits for expectant mothers, lactating mothers and delivered ration kits to elderly denizens who were too old to go out to buy supplies and also carried a high risk of being infected with Covid-19.
In the past, as a nation, we have fought together many battles and have emerged victorious. This time also together, we will win this battle against Covid-19.
Activities and Impact
The COVID- 19 pandemic has impacted people from different walks of life. Our brothers and sisters from the weaker section of the society had an immensely challenging time coping up and sustaining itself during the Government mandate lockdowns. But this novel Coronavirus presented an immense opportunity for the community to rise to the occasion and help our fellow citizens from the underprivileged section of the society.
At Shaan Foundation, we took leverage of the situation to align our initiative with government efforts, where the Antyoday model was crafted.
Our Antyoday initiative has distributed ration for more than 5 lakhs meals with a total outreach of 30 thousand people. The initiative has covered Gurgaon in Haryana and Unnao's Bichiya Block in Uttar Pradesh.
We primarily focused our efforts on helping those people from the weaker section who fall under the most vulnerable groups due to pandemic. The food kit which we distributed was carefully curated to match the nutrition requirements of different groups. Antyoday food kits' were categorized as follows:
- Standard Food Kit
- Mothers (Pregnant and Lactating)Food Kit
- Children Milk Kit
According to WHO, people who are more than 60+ years and have health conditions like lung or heart disease, diabetes, or conditions that affect their immune system is at a higher risk of falling severely ill due to Covid-19.
Many of such older adults and couples were living alone when the lockdown was imposed. They were left entirely to fend for themselves and many of them didn't have any means to access the ration kit distributed by the government.
So, during the Antyoday initiative, with the help of local govt. agencies and clubs, we identified many such elderly households in Gurgaon slums and Bichiya blocks in UP and distributed our food kits to them. The food kit included- Soybean, Grams, Wheat flour, Rice, Sugar, Fresh Vegetables, Salt and Mustard oil (our standard food kit).
Expected and New Mothers
The second most vulnerable group identified as a higher risk group to become gravely ill due to Covid-19 is pregnant women.
With the help of ASHA workers, local people and agencies, we identified families with pregnant women and lactating mothers. We curated a special Antyoday Mothers Kit, keeping in mind all the nutritional needs of these ladies.
The Mothers kit included Folic acid capsule, Soybean, Mustard oil, Jaggery, Pulses, Oatmeal, Barley, Chickpeas, Wheat Flour, Sugar, Salt, Rice and Fresh Vegetables. We were able to identify and distribute 120 Mothers Kits.
Infant and Kids
The pandemic has been hard on kids as well, especially for those whose parents were daily and contractual labourers. This gave us at Shaan an opportunity to help out these little bundles of joys. We realized that the essential requirement for these kids was milk.
We asked local shop keepers, where we were carrying out Antyoday food initiative, about families who bought milk daily for their kids and children. ASHA workers' data and local clubs also were beneficial in identifying those families with kits.
At the end of our drive, we have distributed 150 of our Children Milk Kits, which contained Milk powder and Sugar.
People with Disabilities
During the Government mandate lockdown, our differently-abled brothers and sisters were going through the hardship of sustaining themselves. Although the government tried to reach out to as many citizens as possible to help them with food essentials, private organisation interventions were imperative to reach out to the vast population quickly.
Through our Antyoday initiative, we reached out to denizens with disabilities as much as possible with our Standard Food Kit. Local authorities were of big help in our identification process of households with people with disabilities.
"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." --Helen Keller
Shaan initiatives got its wings due to the unflinching support, dedication and hard work from our outstanding team members. Our team has grown to four members strong, where Anurag is joined by his colleagues Ashish Singh Chauhan, Govind Dwivedi and Monu Chaurasia, fondly known as the "Magical Four".