I want to update you on the current situation at the Hope Project.
Those served by Hope are mostly daily wage workers who are unable to work. It is their children who study at the Hope Project or are cared for at the creche. However, the rapidly escalating spread of covid and lockdown necessitated that the creche and all in-person instruction shut down in April. Online computer classes were organized; few students, however, were able to join due to lack of access to smart phones and the internet. Several students could not attend due to family obligations brought on by the crisis. Additionally, several Hope staff and their family members contracted the virus.
The immediate need of the community has been for rations. All efforts have thus turned to providing food, as well as milk for babies and children. Teachers are in frequent communication with their students, giving instruction about the spread of covid-19 and the precautions to be taken, as well as general guidance on how to manage during the crisis.
Dr. Lipi, Hope Project’s medical director, and the health staff remain a critical source of health information and are an important link to resources for coronavirus testing, treatment, vaccination, and, if necessary, hospital admission. Hope has been essential to procuring supplementary medicine and equipment such as immunity booster kits, nebulizers, oxygen cylinders, oximeters, masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer.
Samiur Rahman, Hope Project’s executive director, writes: We immediately revived our network, which was established during the previous lockdown period and started identifying the families in need. Currently a team is working in Basti, one in Trans-Yamuna & one in Sarai Kale Khan. Dry rations and milk are distributed to the families on a regular basis. We will ensure that no one starves or remains hungry.
The current survey reveals that the economic conditions of the lower middle level and poor families have become worse. With loss of livelihood opportunities and expenses incurred for treatment, they are left with nothing. Those who have lost their family members and dear ones are living in anxiety, fear, and trauma. There is a huge need to address many issues which we have yet to learn. We will not only serve our Project communities but also anywhere in Delhi in need of immediate relief and support.
We remain so very grateful for your support and interest.
Many of you have reached out to me regarding the heartbreaking crisis in India and Hope Project India. I have been in close contact with our friends there, and the situation is much more dire than is being reported in the news. Our executive director, Samiur Rahman, his wife and family, several Hope Project board members, a number of staff and their families have been very ill with the virus. Thankfully, they are slowly recovering. They report, however, that thousands of deaths there are going unreported. Masses of people wait in line for any medical care, and are dying as they wait. The numbers of people affected are astronomical — most likely three times as many as what we are hearing — as none of those dying at home or in the streets are reported as COVID deaths.
These excerpts, from an email from Carmen Hussain, a Hope Project board member, describe the situation in the Nizamuddin Basti: When they came to the Basti yesterday, they were quite shocked to see that it looks like the entire community is out on the streets, no masks and kids playing in the alleys all over. Protecting oneself and all the hygiene protocols has become one of the major teaching subjects of the Hope online classes. I am pretty sure that a large chunk of the community can probably not tolerate the congested living quarters; the heat (41 C, 105 F) in the narrow Basti, with no air passing to give relief. Asha tells me, that in the area she lives, every household has at least one person affected. This is the case in so many areas, and I know from people closely connected that there are lots of deaths all over.
That’s the reality….
As usual, you will ask what needs to be done and what can help, and as usual we can just tell you that we are trying to stay on top of things and that all your support is going a long way in helping to keep up the work at Hope. At the moment also, in addition to donating funds, please also direct your healing prayers to India, to Delhi, to the communities Hope serves, and to all people in dire need. I picture the Dargah as a centre of radiating healing energy and light to those in need.
The Hope Project physical space is in lockdown, but staff are continuing the work from their homes. Classes are continuing online, Hope’s doctor is remotely coordinating medical care in the community, and emergency food provisions are being mobilized. Thus, Hope perseveres with resolve and resilience in its mission of service to the poor and the vulnerable.
With deep appreciation for your concern and support,
Chair, Children’s Ashram Fund
Board member, Hope Project