As the Covid pandemic struck India first in a several-month lockdown in the Spring-Summer of 2020 and then as a massive, surging wave of severe illnesses leading to a horrific loss of life in our communities in the Spring-Summer of 2021, our GIWA team actively engaged in addressing as many needs as possible; from setting up Covid in-patient facilities, providing oxygen and ambulance services to providing emergency food rations.
GIWA, in partnership with Parmarth Niketan, UNICEF, UNFPA, WSSCC (now SHF), Eros Now, Sanskar Channel and other organizations, brought together eminent faith leaders of different faith traditions for numerous online events leading a campaign for an interfaith responses to Covid-19, these events aimed at catalyzing and fostering interfaith harmony in a time full of fear and angst. These online events include:
• Interfaith Response to COVID-19 Webinar
• Proactive Faith Leadership in Times of Crisis in Africa and India in Responding to Covid-19 Webinar
• Earth Day 2020: Planting Seeds for a New Normal Panel
• Ramazan, Jaan Aur Jahan Webinar
• Africa’s Faith Leadership in Times of Crisis: Ramadan Response to COVID-19 Panel
• Maintaining an Aviral (Free Flowing) and Nirmal (Clean) Ganga Post COVID-19 Special Ganga Dussehra Webinar
• World Environment Day 2020: United Nations to a United Creation Webinar
• Global Handwashing Day Webinar
These gatherings served as a powerful source of inspiration and empowerment for leaders, enabling them to encourage responsible behavior within their communities amidst the pandemic. They provided valuable education on best practices to prevent the spread of the virus and dispelled misconceptions surrounding its transmission. Following its proven approach, GIWA successfully brought together diverse faiths to confront the shared adversary of Covid-19, fostering a sense of unity and common purpose. Through these efforts, stigmas between races and religions were dismantled, promoting greater harmony and understanding.
Additionally, in partnership with UNICEF, UNFPA, and WSSCC, GIWA put together videos from faith leaders regarding the response to COVID-19 for massive social media sharing, to use the power of faith to encourage people to make smart decisions with regard to their health and safety, as well as the health of their community, the nation, and the world. These included messages from faith leaders on topics such as staying at home, stopping the spread, and taking the pandemic seriously, and reminding people that the coronavirus doesn’t impact only people of a certain religion or race.
These videos aimed to remove any stigma or discrimination against people or groups of people surrounding the coronavirus, as such discrimination only further created borders and boundaries in this global fight against the virus.
During the 2020 lockdown, free meals and shelter were provided to needy families to ensure nobody went hungry in the surrounding areas. Every day hundreds of people were fed a hot, sattvic and nutritious meal.
In partnership with its sister organizations, GIWA supplied rations and other necessary supplies to thousands of families in Rishikesh and surrounding Himalayan regions during the lockdown, extended curfews and even in the first months after the lockdown opened, including helping thousands of poor families with rations and gifts during the hard times of the Diwali holiday season.
During the overwhelming surge of infections that commenced in April 2021, GIWA collaborated closely with the State Government to prioritize critical support, life saving support for those affected. With a primary focus on addressing the urgent need for oxygen, GIWA facilitated the distribution of vital resources such as oxygen concentrators and other essential facilities to Covid patients in need.
During a time of severe shortage, GIWA took immediate action to procure nearly 100 Oxygen Concentrators. These life-saving devices were swiftly delivered to local government hospitals and medical centers that were grappling with a dire shortage of oxygen. The aim was to ensure that critical healthcare facilities had the necessary resources to provide much-needed oxygen to patients in need.
Medical kits and essentials such as oximeters, steam machines, etc were provided to many patients and families who could not afford them.
Additionally, GIWA supported the provision of essential medicines and supplies for several villages in rural Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
The entire Yoga Hall and Charitable Hospital at Parmarth Niketan (the site of GIWA’s Secretariat) were established as a 100 bed COVID-Care Centre, with fully-equipped oxygen concentrators/cylinders, essential medical supplies and a dedicated medical team.
The Parmarth Charitable Hospital was being utilized for testing and vaccinations under the supervision of a professional Medical Team provided by the State Government.
Two ambulances were deployed to provide free door-to-door services such as transporting patients to hospitals and providing oxygen cylinders to places in need in Rishikesh and surrounding villages. They also reached out to remote villages in rural regions of the Himalayas, in which the villagers have little to no access to a hospital and/or medical care.
In partnership with Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, 10,000 PP suits were prepared for frontline workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic helping to keep them safe whilst they were courageously serving the community.