The city of Kolkata, also known as Calcutta, is one of the metropolitan areas of India and the fourth most populated in India. Kolkata is the capital of the state of West Bengal where close to 20% of the population lives below the poverty line. In March 2020, like most of the world, the first few COVID-19 cases hit Kolkata. However, unlike other cities, Kolkata also weathered the cyclone Amphan a few months later. The cyclone in combination with COVID-19 has put the poor in Kolkata at risk. The following organizations are empowering the poor in Kolkata.
Kolkata Gives Foundation
Kolkata Gives is a nonprofit organization that began in 2014. It aims to connect reliable NGOs with potential donors. Additionally, the organization currently works on “project 10K” which aims to feed 10,000 affected families in Bengal along with the ‘Mask for all’ campaign that will distribute 10 lac reusable masks to those who need them. Outside of its innovative approach toward connecting the right organizations, Kolkata Gives has found the best way for people to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries during the pandemic. Since individuals cannot get together to celebrate, they can instead donate $40 to the organization to feed the poor in Kolkata.
Indian Humanitarian Foundation
The Indian Humanitarian Foundation (IHA) is an NGO that serves the poor in Kolkata through Durga Puja, an auspicious religious festival celebrated over five days in the city. The organization has been targeting areas like shelters, railway stations and people on the street who require food and rations the most during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the aftermath of cyclone Amphan.
Calcutta Rescue is a charitable organization that is working with communities in need of assistance. It provides free health care, vocational training and sanitation in a sustainable way for families to alleviate themselves from poverty by working toward a better future. Calcutta Rescue recognizes that a third of Kolkata lives in slums. In the wake of the current crisis, this organization has educated slum dwellers about COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Additionally, it has moved its education centers for children online on Whatsapp through videos that teachers recorded. Whatsapp is a more widely accessible free messaging application.
Child in Need Institute (CINI)
CINI is an NGO that works for the well-being of poor children in India. Based in Kolkata, CINI is currently assisting over 7 million people in Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa. It has reached over 30,000 wage workers, poor children and women with essential items like food and hygiene products. As its name suggests, CINI is focussing on making this pandemic easier for children in need by setting up a child helpline for distressed children.
These four organizations are a few of many that are doing incredible work for and from the city of Kolkata. Cyclone Amphan and COVID-19 have and are dismantling previous systems of upliftment. Therefore, NGOs and trusts have become key in quickly reassessing and organizing the community, to establish sustained empowerment.
– Anuja Mukherjee