NGOs in Visakhapatnam lend a helping hand to the marginalised

Ken Foundation and Prajwal Vani Welfare Society have been striving to feed families of migrant workers, daily wagers, sex workers and differently-abled people since the beginning of the lockdown

Updated - July 17, 2020 12:18 pm IST

Published - July 16, 2020 05:01 pm IST

Volunteers at a food donation drive conducted by Visakhapatnam-based NGO Prajwal Vani Welfare Society along with personnel from Naval Air Station INS Dega

Volunteers at a food donation drive conducted by Visakhapatnam-based NGO Prajwal Vani Welfare Society along with personnel from Naval Air Station INS Dega

Pranita* has been working as a sex worker for over a decade now, but this is the first time she is ‘out of business’. “There has been zero income since the beginning of March and I have nearly exhausted all my savings trying to survive through this pandemic,” says the 36-year-old.

Pranita lost her husband two months ago and now has a daughter to support all by herself. “The worst part of it is that this won’t go away any time soon. We will be out of business at least till the end of the year and that has put me and several others who depend on this for a living in serious trouble,” she says.

Like her, several sex workers are staring at an uncertain future as social distancing remains a norm to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Pranita has spent her days borrowing money from her friends and neighbours to buy ration. However, a week ago several families of sex workers from her neighbourhood heaved a sigh of relief when city-based Ken Foundation distributed free rations to them. Pranita is stocked with rice, salt, oil, wheat flour and several pulses that would last atleast for two weeks.

“We have distributed these kits to almost 300 families and are aiming to support more. We will soon be arranging some stationery and story books for the children of sex workers,” says Santosh Pulletykurty, founder of Ken Foundation.

While the foundation has been helping the families with the ration, the volunteers are also trying to find alternative sources of income for these women. “We have donated sewing machines to two women who will be making masks for our foundation. If the quality of these masks matches the required standards we will soon start selling these to the general public. In a matter of two weeks we will start conducting online sewing classes for these women,” adds Santosh.

Visakhapatnam-based Prajwal Vani Welfare Society has also been helping unemployed people from the beginning of the lockdown.

Packaged grocery ready to be sent out at the headquarters of Prajwal Vani Welfare Society in Visakhapatnam

Packaged grocery ready to be sent out at the headquarters of Prajwal Vani Welfare Society in Visakhapatnam

“A distress call from one of our NGO beneficiaries stating that his father was out of job and they no longer had money to feed themselves, made me realise the impact of the lockdown on families of daily wagers. To begin with we began providing ration to about 10 families and today we are supporting 70 families of differently-abled people,” says Suchitra Rao, founder of the society.

The NGO that works for the welfare of differently-abled people in association with Naval Air Station INS Dega has been reaching out to families in and around Visakhapatnam. The volunteers from INS Dega have been helping the society in procuring the ration for grocery donation drive and providing the manpower to conduct these distributions.

“We have currently started an initiative where people can adopt a family for a month by paying ₹1200. With this money, our NGO will provide these families ration and sanitising kits. We have put up a list of 156 needy families out of which 70 have been adopted already,” she adds.

Expanding their aid beyond differently-abled people, the NGO is now assisting several musicians who were employed with orchestras. “During one of our distribution drives, we learnt that orchestra employees have been facing a hard time as they are currently surviving with zero income. We are currently supporting 35 such families,” Suchitra adds.

Both Santosh and Suchitra say that the volunteers who are venturing out for distribution service take all safety precautions in view of the pandemic. “All the volunteers are provided with masks, gloves and sanitisers. We keep a track of their body temperature. If anyone seems unwell or down with fever, we advise them to stay home,” says Suchitra.

You can get in touch with Ken Foundation and Prajwal Vani Welfare Society at 9885674949 and 9948340591 respectively.

(*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the individual)

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