The coronavirus (COVID-19) is the worst pandemic to hit the world in almost a hundred years. It is the worst economic crisis in the past 40 years for South Asian countries like India. To make matters worse, India has one of the highest population densities in the world, and a significant portion of the population lives in poverty. The combination of these factors, high population density and poor sanitation due to poverty are high risk factors for the spread of COVID-19. The government, therefore, took the drastic measure of a complete lockdown to curb the spread of this deadly disease.
The drive to help people also helped Lions put aside their fear to reach the needy.
The most vulnerable were caught in the crisis
Caught in the sudden but necessary lockdown were the migrant workers in India. They lost their jobs and livelihood due to the shutdown. They were far away from their homes. With no way to reach home, and no jobs, there was a real crisis brewing. It was as close to a “perfect storm” as you can get. Millions of poor households faced the real danger of starvation. The government relief efforts, though herculean, weren’t large enough or fast enough to reach everyone in need.
Delivering relief efforts in the middle of the lockdown
Normally, the Lions would mobilize themselves and immediately start the relief efforts on their own. However, with COVID-19, we had a unique problem due to the complete lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. No one was allowed leave their houses or move around on their own. In addition, there was a lot of confusion and fear about safe practices to avoid the spread of the virus.
With the help of the local police and service volunteers, the Lions distributed a vast quantity of food grains, food packets, medicines, etc. Many of our Lady Lions cooked and distributed food in the initial period. They overcame their fear of getting infected with COVID-19 by wearing masks and maintaining social distancing as far as possible. Washing hands frequently was also advised and followed by all. The drive to help people also helped Lions put aside their fear to reach the needy. After proper precautions were in place, the Lions were no longer scared. Instead, they were inspired to work more and more for the cause.
Lions spring into action
The Lions clubs of District 3232-F1 sprang to action to help in this unprecedented crisis. Here are some of the service activities they undertook:
- Donations to the Prime Minister's and Chief minister's relief fund
- Donations to Lions Clubs International Foundation
- Serving cooked food to the hungry
- Distribution of dry ration kits
- Distribution of masks and PPEs
- Distribution of sanitizing kits and medicine
In the months of April and May 2020, a total of 25 clubs served 5.84 million people amounting to a total financial value of 68.5 million Indian rupees or approximately US$915,000. More than six million people benefited from the services provided by nearly 1,000 Lions of the district. We also created an excellent brand image of Lions and added 74 members in the very first month of the year for my incoming district governor.
Some noteworthy contributions
Although all the clubs contributed to the best of their abilities, some noteworthy contributions were made by the following clubs: Lions Club of Vishwamitri, Lions Club of Baroda Main, Lions Club of Ajwa and Lions Club of Cambay.
A cautiously optimistic future
As we all know, the pandemic is far from over and will likely be prolonged for the foreseeable future. Until the time that a cure is found or a vaccine developed, the pandemic will continue to affect the world. And the most vulnerable and poor sections of society will be hit the hardest and will need all the help they can get. Lions clubs of District 3232F1 are continuously mobilizing to serve those who are severely affected by this unprecedented crisis.
Lion Mahesh Shah has been a Lion for 54 years, serving as the district governor of District 3232F1 in fiscal year 2019-2020.