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An update on covid emergency response in India, Nepal and Brazil

May 17, 2021

The rapid rise in covid cases across India, Brazil and Nepal is deeply impacting the communities we serve as well as our partners and staff. A growing number have either caught covid themselves or are caring for ill family members. At a recent meeting, an Indian colleague described the situation amongst rural communities as a ‘tsunami of disease’. As an organisation focused on reducing exploitation among some of the world’s most vulnerable communities, we are keenly aware of the weight of suffering, fear and grief that many have been forced to bear on top of ongoing hardships.

As the devastating impact of the covid pandemic became clear in early 2020, we quickly set up an Emergency Response Fund (ERF) which mobilised over $2.2 million from our generous community of donors. The ERF provided immediate support to 196 vulnerable communities in Brazil, India, Nepal, Thailand, Myanmar and Ethiopia via our NGO partners, directly impacting 250,000 people. This experience provided us with first-hand evidence of how impactful frontline efforts can be in providing emergency support. Lessons learned from the ERF are summarised in our report, “Reflecting on the year that was: Lessons from the covid frontlines.”

While we have not re-launched our emergency appeal during the current wave of covid, we continue to listen and respond to the urgent needs of our frontline partners and the communities in which they work. With the help of generous donors and the reallocation of some funds from our core budget, over $700,000 will go directly to support partners’ emergency response activities in India, Nepal and Brazil. These activities include:

  • Training for 750 local volunteers to become covid health resource persons in southern India and provision of health equipment such as PPE and oximeters across 375 villages
  • Direct cash transfers, supplies and food to thousands of Indian families at risk of hunger and/or being forced to leave their homes to earn income, including families of child trafficking survivors, migrants and textile workers
  • Distribution of emergency food relief to Hawara-Charawa communities in rural southeastern Nepal
  • Provision of other forms of critical support, such as covid safety information and assistance in connecting with existing government entitlements

We are also, where appropriate, amending the ways we work to minimise in-person meetings and create flexibility for staff and partners. In the longer term, we remain highly conscious of the potential impacts of the pandemic on trafficking and modern slavery and the difficulties that many communities will face in rebuilding resistance to exploitation. We are inspired by the courage of our partners and staff and committed to standing with them through this challenging time.

Photo credit: Neeta Minz, Freedom Fund

Written by
The Freedom Fund