Over the past 70 days as the country went into lockdown, over 1,500 girls, all aged between 11 and 18 years, worked daily to ensure that 820 families across Mumbai Metropolitian Region (MMR) did not go hungry. These girls, who are part of a drive by NGO Vacha, have maintained the food supply chain for over 5,000 people who lost their livelihood and are entirely dependent on food distribution.
Assisted by facilitators, the girls reached out to needy families, made a list of beneficiaries, tied up with grocers to make food kits and then ensured distribution over the two months of lockdown. The food distribution that started from April 1 has so far run in four phases, each phase lasting 15 days during which not only grains but also vegetables and sanitary napkins were distributed to families.
“Our girls stepped in to carry out the work of food distribution as we faced a challenge with food distribution. It was also a good way to encourage leadership among young girls in a time of crisis,” said Sonal Shukla, Founder and Managing Director of Vacha Charitable Trust.
The NGO that works primarily towards promoting women leadership has also encouraged these girls to take up issues of local hygiene in their slums. The girls have written letters to local representatives urging them to ensure hygiene in the community toilet of their locality. While there has been no response, the girls are now working towards creating a pressure group by reaching out to locals to raise their concerns more strongly. “We train these girls to take up these issues that will help them develop into strong leaders,” said Yagma Parmar, Project Director with Vacha.
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