The crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19 since March 2020 has affected us as a people and a nation in several ways. The disease and its spread have made human lives so vulnerable also due to the economy crumbling. With the need for more health care facilities and social support than ever before, many organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, are coming forward to provide relief. With the pandemic continuing for more than a year, the need for help and aid is increasing by the hour.
The Azim Premji Foundation, a philanthropic organization established by Azim Premji, has been working in different parts of rural India to create a more just, equitable, humane and sustainable society. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Foundation has worked consistently along with their corporate counterpart, Wipro, in tackling the ongoing crisis and providing relief for the affected ones. The volunteers and employees of the Foundation have actively been working in the rural regions across India. The Foundation has enabled a team of 1600 members in various districts across India. Their initiative also includes partnering with members of other organizations working at grassroot levels, government school teachers and alumnus from the Azim Premji University whose presence is spread across the country. Currently, they are actively involved in this reach-out program; and they have reached out to close to 70,000 people. Their responsibilities include on-the-ground surveillance and monitoring of the pandemic, awareness building drives and capacity development operations.
Apart from providing manpower and required physical support, the Foundation has also contributed to the public healthcare system by providing ICU beds, oxygenated beds and testing centers. Their Integrated Healthcare Response includes awareness drives, prevention and screening, quarantine training and facilities, testing and tracing, distribution of basic safety equipment, capacity enhancement of public health facilities and vaccination drives. The Foundation also supports existing public-spirited hospital by meeting their demands to fight the pandemic. They have also provided frontline workers with training and basic requirements such as PPE Kits, oximeters, etc. The Foundation has also partnered with the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru and Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore to develop a better understanding of the pandemic and promote medical science research to develop ways to tackle the pandemic.
They have also been involved in activities like providing over 54 crore meals, reaching about 1.3 crore people across various states and union territories in India. This includes the distribution of cooked meals, dry ration and hygiene kits. Alongside providing basic needs and meals, the Foundation has also introduced various ways through which rural population can regenerate their livelihoods in the worst affected areas across the nation. This includes various inputs and support for agriculture and its allied sectors. They have also reached out to extend their support to the rural employment schemes such as MGNREGA and the implementation of the PDS.
The Foundation has also provided financial aid to meet the demands of the fight against the pandemic. It has allocated Rs. 2,125 crores to carry out the active fight against COVID-19 pandemic. They are currently focusing on the vaccination drive and to support the public healthcare system to vaccinate more people. The Foundation has been extending their hands to the ones in need in these times. It has embarked upon a journey to bridge the widening gap between the cities and rural India. And this journey, has taken a severe beating in times of the pandemic, but it has failed to wear out the determination of the people involved in the journey. As the pandemic continues to take a toll of human life and livelihood, the Azim Premji Foundation has been working hard to tackle the crisis and support mankind in every way possible.
By Vaidyanath Nishant. The author is a freelance writer. He can be contacted at [email protected]