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AYUDH India : Delivering food and support in the fall out of COVID-19’s second wave

“Humanity is going through an exceptionally challenging and painful period. It is only natural to feel depressed, anxious and helpless during such times. However, this is a time when we should pull ourselves together and direct our inner energies to remain afloat,” says Amma. “We cannot allow ourselves to be dragged down by the undertow of this warlike situation. Yes, this is like a war—a war we need to fight with utmost alertness, awareness, confidence and courage. So, let us maintain a positive attitude and self-confidence. Then, we will be able to persevere through these difficult times.” These are the exact instructions AYUDH India is following as they gather strength to continue to serve people in need across the country. As the second wave of the pandemic begins to drop, our youth wing is finding ways to give food, basic supplies and support. This includes a range of actions, from caring for villagers and slum dwellers with no income to counselling people in post COVID-19 recovery. One of the most concrete challenges is in rural and suburban areas where people are facing food shortages. Many are families where migrant workers returned home from cities when they lost their jobs due to lockdowns. Tribal people in villages have been hit the hardest.

AYUDH members are preparing basic supplies and distributing them in villages and slums and, surprised at the gestures of care, people are thanking AYUDH for their kindness and goodwill. For example, AYUDH Durgapur in West Bengal visited tribal communities to distribute food kits. As one of the volunteers put it, “COVID-19 has made so many all over the world look for opportunities to help the less privileged in their society. The more you give, the more your heart is filled.” Another action is providing post-Covid follow ups. While the pandemic was at its height, AYUDH ran an all-India support line to help people seek medical care, oxygen supplies, hospital beds and other basic needs. Now they have started checking in with families of recovered patients. This includes providing post-Covid care from physicians, connecting people with professional counsellors, and providing support for overall well-being. AYUDH volunteers are trained in counselling by a clinical psychologist and then make the follow up calls. They witness firsthand the trials and tribulations people continue to live through in terms of the illness. They also find it heartening that most of the patients are grateful to receive a call for continued support. The volunteers are also hearing that although most people with COVID-19 got better, even people who did not have symptoms when they tested positive have post-Covid conditions now.

Another avenue that has opened up is holding online sessions with doctors so the general public can seek medical advice about COVID-19. Events are being held across several states to address the questions in local languages and English. People call in with several different queries which the doctors are able to answer calmly and efficiently. In terms of Covid fears, it brings an opportunity for grounding. Finally in terms of overall wellness, online yoga therapy sessions are taking place for COVID-19 recovered patients, as well as classes for anyone seeking support and relaxation at this difficult time. Sessions include yoga postures and deep breathing exercises that are extremely beneficial for restoring immunity and rejuvenating health. Under this all-India initiative, AYUDH members from Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have come together to connect people in distress and ensure they find the help they need. In return, the volunteers themselves feel supported and strengthened by what they can offer to the world.

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