By: Gurpreet Somal, Manager – Communications

With the COVID-19 outbreak, India’s coordinated action is being effectively implemented at the Central, State and Village Panchayat levels. At Hi 5, our team is spread all over the country, as many have returned to their hometowns due to the national lockdown. From remote locations, our staff has been reaching out to the 2100 children of our ‘Hope thru Hoops’ program, and staying connected via video calls and voice calls, which has energized the spirits of all the children.

Metropolitan Cities

Mumbai is one of hardest hit areas in India right now. The local municipal authority and the police are using social media platforms like Twitter & Instagram to give latest updates. The entire city is under constant surveillance and surprise visits by the police.

Our coach Saneej’s entire building (with 190 families) has been cordoned off, due to four positive cases of Covid19. No one is allowed to leave their homes till all the families are tested in the locality.

Many of our 1300 children in Mumbai, live in cramped homes in overcrowded slums along with their families, and understand the severity of the situation. They are practicing social distancing and hygiene even during daily tasks of bringing water or buying groceries. Under such circumstances, they look forward to our social media updates and staying connected with Hi 5.

Our coach Sahitya in Hyderabad, says that people are whole-heartedly supporting the strong measures enforced by the State government of Telangana. Citizens can avail of essential services and the army has also been aiding the government thus ensuring that the lockdown is smoothly implemented across the State.

Coach Digvijay says that the lockdown is not very stressful in Kolkata as there are fewer cases. In most parts of the city, markets are shut by 12 pm and their world-famous sweet shops sometimes stay open up to 4pm. At all stores, one-meter distancing between the patrons is enforced.

All our coaches are trying to do their best and making fitness / motivational videos to keep the children engaged.

Small Towns

Smaller townships across India have shown tremendous social awareness during Covid-19, and are at par with their bigger counterparts like Mumbai etc. In Aurangabad, coach Sachin was immediately told to self-isolate upon his arrival, whereas in Nanded a doctor visited coach Narayan’s home to ensure he was not affected by Covid-19 and to assuage the fears of neighboring residents.

Interestingly, our sports coordinator Avanesh in Mathura (in Uttar Pradesh) humorously says that since it is not a part of their culture to constantly be on one’s mobile (like in cities), so people are impressed & call him a big shot when he works from home on his mobile! Coach Krishnendu says the lockdown in his hometown Kakdwip (West Bengal) is more rigid than Kolkata. The State Police has given out orders and keeping vigilance on people’s movements.

Rural Areas

Across India, those who moved from the cities to villages are being swiftly traced & stamped by local village panchayats & gram-sevaks (to ensure no one unwittingly spreads the virus in rural communities), and told to self-quarantine for two weeks. The level of awareness and prompt action by rural authorities is just as strict as their urban counterparts, breaking stereotypes that villages lack awareness or progressive mindsets. Efficient systems are in place to transfer affected patients to hospitals.

Our sports coordinators Ravi, Komal and Pramila reached their villages (Vajreshwari, Latur & Basunde) after being stopped at various junctures for verification. On arrival, they were visited and stamped by local gram-sevaks. The same story comes from our staff in Jagdishpur (in U.P), where ambulances are sent and police is present incase people refuse to obey the hospital staff.

Syam Kumar (Residential Director of Krushi Home where we run our program) in Gowdavalli (Telangana), is enforcing preventive measures for the safety of the children. Sanitization of the area, washing hands & feet, early morning hot water gargles (with salt and turmeric), mid-morning milk with turmeric, healthy diet and one-arm distancing during meals are some of the health measures being set by him.

For now, with 2100 children in our program across the country and an overall population of 1.3 billion people in India, it has been insightful and heartening to see our entire staff and the entire country rallying together to get through this fight as one.