Published: 28th May 2021
This NGO is taking in children whose parents are COVID positive free of cost. Here's how
RNAF has started these services in nine centres currently, including Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Rajasthan, and Noida and over 200 children have been living all across these centres
The Coronavirus pandemic has redesigned the world for all of us, especially children, whose routines have been disrupted with school closures for over a year now. In the second wave of the pandemic things have taken a turn for the worse in scenarios where one or both parent is COVID-affected. At this time, taking care of a child's mental health and providing them with an almost normal atmosphere is of utmost importance. And that's what the Mumbai-based Rouble Nagi Art Foundation is doing by turning their balwadis or daycare centres into COVID-care and community centres for children whose parents have both tested positive. The children are taken care of at the centres free of cost while their parents recover in hospitals or in isolation. This initiative has also made it easier for families from lower-income backgrounds to provide a safe space for their children.
Explaining why RNAF began the initiative, Rouble Nagi says, "There are no easy solutions to the issues children are facing during COVID. Children get vulnerable when something happens to their parents and they need support and love. Mental well being is extremely important, and we make it a point to create a positive space for them at the centres. Since the pandemic has disrupted on-campus education in schools, our balwadis in the slums have also been shut. Our volunteers came and told us about this issue and the concerns of numerous families around. Since the kids are already well-acquainted with our balwadis in their slums, they were comfortable with us being around them. Thus we decided to go ahead and set up these centres."
Medical camp being organised at RNAF (Pics: RNAF)
RNAF has started these services in nine centres currently, including the ones in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Rajasthan, and Noida and over 200 children have been living all across these centres. "We have been taking in children who have attended balwadis or from parents who know us because of our social welfare work in these cities. Others have also been coming in through word of mouth. If the child's parents have both tested positive they are sent for institutional quarantine or need to be isolated, we first check for relatives and guardians to see if someone is willing to take care of the child. If not, then we keep the child with us for 14 days, or sometimes if the parents want an extension that too is accommodated. Before we take a child to the centre we get an RT-PCR to rule out the possibility of infection as there are so many children staying with us and we can't afford to risk anyone's lives at this point," explains Rouble.
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Children follow a daily routine at the centres for them to grow and learn. Typically, a child's day at the RNAF centre looks something like this: The daily routine begins with a prayer at 7.30 am and after breakfast, they have to attend an English class and arithmetic class, basic reading and writing. They also have art, singing and dance classes for them to be culturally active. Post lunch they are given a book of their choice from our centre to read. Evenings are generally for recreation such as playing board games like carrom, ludo etc. After dinner, the younger children are told stories and it is bedtime by 8.30 pm. "The foundation also tries to connect the children with their parents digitally or through a virtual medium to comfort them and boost their confidence. We have volunteers to take care of the children who are already members of RNAF, mostly they are people from within the communities. All the centres in slums have resident teachers who are employed by RNAF and are graduates," adds Rouble.
Children attending classes at RNAF
RNAF currently runs five programmes focusing mainly on women empowerment, education and children welfare. They are also running courses for government schools all across Maharashtra. The team has plans to increase the number of centres in the upcoming days to accommodate more children as cases seem to be going up rapidly in the country. "Till school starts again it is important that children follow a routine and are homeschooled till the time," concludes Rouble.