COVID-19 | Community Survey & Sari Project
With COVID-19 presenting our communities with new challenges, it is essential to understand their needs to best provide support during these difficult times.
Alongside the health crisis, the ongoing economic standstill is having a devastating impact on those unable to work - including those working for day-wage, migrant workers and agricultural labourers. Without viable income, individuals and households are left unable to afford food and essential medication. Blossom Trust conducted a survey to talk to our community and find out exactly what their needs are, so that we can implement projects and interventions that best support them.
COVID-19 is currently limiting the outreach we can do in the community. Therefore, the survey was conducted by our Outreach Worker, Muthulakshmi, and by our Executive Director, Mercy, via audio call. They contacted 23 women from our Self-Help Group (SHG) community: women who have previously been involved with the Poomalai Women’s Collective, Rainbow TB Forum, or Paneer Poo.
Of the 23 interviewed beneficiaries, 14 responded that they need increased knowledge and awareness on the COVID-19 situation, 6 said that they need increased health support and lastly, every woman interviewed (100%) responded they are in need of increased economic resilience.
In response, we are now looking to pilot an initiative to collect spare saris and train women in our SHG network to sew them into masks. Wearing masks plays a pivotal role in limiting the spread of COVID-19: not only are you protecting yourself, but you are protecting your entire community by wearing a mask. This initiative will ensure that women can benefit from the protection, but crucially it will also give them the opportunity to supplement their income by selling the masks locally. By reclaiming the material from old sarees, the initiative is low cost, sustainable and circular - less waste, and less reliance on an unpredictable supply chain. We are doing our best to get this project off the ground while adhering to the local lockdown guidelines, so we will continue to provide updates as the project progresses.
It is clear that Blossom Trust should focus on projects that aim to increase economic resilience during and post-COVID, so will also use this result as impetus to reviving the Poomalai Women's Collective. This collective aimed to increase the financial capacity of women in the SHGs by encouraging them to set aside 50 to 100 Rs each month, which gave them collective financial security and the ability to apply for loans and set up small female-led enterprises. As COVID-19 becomes the new normal, this would provide much-needed security to families.
Two thirds of the women also said they required awareness. With a glut of infographics, media videos and WhatsApp chain messages, it can be difficult to differentiate fact from fiction, aiding the spread of misinformation and mal-practice. We have many years of experience in health advocacy, through our trusted and engaging method of EduClowns performances. Although lockdown and social distancing prevents our performers putting on a live show, there is always a solution to be found! We have filmed and edited an EduClowns video specifically for COVID-19 awareness. The video was created in the local language Tamil, with English subtitles so that it is inclusive to a wider audience, and covers basic facts about COVID-19 symptoms, as well as prevention methods such as hand washing, distancing and mask wearing. The video will feature on our social media, website and YouTube shortly, and we will also send it through WhatsApp to members of our SHGs.
COVID-19 is bringing severe consequences across India, with no end in sight. We are striving to provide for our community, responding to their needs and ensuring they remain safe, informed and supported. Keep checking our social media and website for updates on our work, and to see how you can contribute to mitigating the impacts of COVID-19.
Project duration: June 2020