Published: 25th April 2020
This Bengaluru-based education NGO has been giving survival kits to the most vulnerable
Bal Utsav is an NGO that has been working in the space of education in the state of Karnataka. Currently, they are helping different communities through the lockdown by distributing several kits
Each time a disaster has struck India in recent years, Bal Utsav, an NGO dedicated to children studying in government schools, has sprung into action. During the April 2015 Nepal earthquake, they reconstructed a school for 2,500 children. They distributed kits and did their bit during the Chennai floods of 2017 and Karnataka floods last year as well. Since COVID-19 is no less than a disaster, they are lending their hands to as many poor and needy ones as they can. "We just couldn't hold ourselves back. Since everyone is under lockdown, the children we have always been working for, their parents are usually daily wage workers. And the lockdown has brought their life to a halt. We realised that more than money, they needed food to eat. That's how we decided on two kinds of kits," says Binu Ramesh Verma, Director of the Bengaluru-based NGO. They immediately reached out to their donor network, including the once residing in the US, and started putting their plan into action.
Assembling the kits | (Pic: Bala Utsav)
Bal Utsav is distributing two kinds of kits. Their detailed Stay-At-Home-Edible Kits includes five kg wheat/rice, one kg toor dal, one litre edible oil, one kg sugar, 250 gram tea powder, one kg salt, one kg sooji, 200 gram chilli powder, 100 gram turmeric powder, 200 gram sambar powder and biscuits. It all costs Rs 1,020. Stay-At-Home Hygiene Kits also cost the same and includes bath soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, detergent soap, dishwash powder, sanitary pad, face masks, hand wash and hand sanitiser. Certainly very comprehensive. They are also giving personal protective kist to frontline workers that include a viroguard suit, face mask, chemi splash goggles and nitrile gloves. "We gave almost the same kits last year as well, the point was to help them with the most basic products required," says Binu. On day one, they distributed 350 kits and till date, they have distributed as many as 8,000 kits. To pack all the kits, they are using the auditorium of RBANMS College, Ulsoor. Five of their vehicles have permission with the help of which they deliver the kits.
"We found a migrant community from Rajasthan and have helped them. We even distributed drinking water to police," says Binu. Those houses which have pregnant women and small children have requested for milk, which they have supplied. A few homes even asked for Maggi noodles, which they complied with. So though many special requests come in, they try to do their best to meet with all their needs. "What we have observed is that the demand is for ration, not cooked food. So we are going to try and fulfill that demand," she says.
During the distribution | (Pic: Bala Utsav)
As a part of their two programmes for schools, Samporna Shala, which is developing the infrastructure of an urban government school and iShalas, which is schools that have internet-enabled classrooms, they have been coordinating with principals to ensure the well-being of the students. "For some children, the midday meal they would get at school would be their only meal. So we are genuinely worried," she says. They have 22 Samporna Shalas and 220 iShalas currently in Karnataka. Plans are on to ensure that when students get back to schools, they are brought up to speed with all that they might have missed.