Award-winning actress, writer and Brand Ambassador Child Protection for Save the Children, India, Nandana Sen visited the homes of COVID orphaned children she is supporting along with the child rights organisation in South 24 Paraganas district of Sunderbans.
In a bid to ensure the safety and welfare of the most vulnerable children whose lives were torn apart by the deadly combination of Covid-19 and Cyclone Yaas, Nandana mobilized resources to support over 300 children across 25 gram-panchayats of the Sundarbans area The ‘For a Safe Tomorrow’ campaign was launched by Save the Children in 2021 and provides for care-givers to meet the medical, nutritional, educational, psychosocial and protection needs of these children. Each child is receiving Rs.3000/- per month to meet these immediate requirements, in preparation for their return to mainstream educational and healthcare support.
Nandana also visited the two Multi-Activity Centres (MAC) operational in Mandir Bazar and the Banashyam Nagar island of Pathar Pratima block. These centres are helping bring back orphaned/abandoned and at-risk children within the purview of education, while supporting them with crucial psychosocial care.
Sundarbans being a hotspot for climate change, this area experiences cyclones, storms and floods resulting from incessant rains. These children are victims of multifarious vulnerabilities, with some of them having lost their parents, and/ or principal breadwinner of the family, due to COVID-19. Several of these children also faced the additional impact of Cyclone Yaas, while others lost their parents to snakebite, crocodile bites, capsizing of boat, tiger attacks and honey collection. “For a Safe Tomorrow” is also taking care of children who are terminally ill and suffering from cancer and thalassemia.
These children are in the care of the child protection regulators in their communities and spend six to seven hours in a week in MAC centres which helps them socialize and come out of the fear and anxiety they have been living through.
“The areas we are focusing on are extremely remote, underserved, and in some parts very wild, devastated not only by COVID-19 but also by natural calamities. Consequently, there are so many children here who have lost one or both parents, and essentially their lifelines. Not only have they gone through a massive trauma that needs much care to heal, they also stand exposed to child trafficking, child labour and child marriage, all of which have increased alarmingly in West Bengal during the pandemic. Together with Save the Children, we are ensuring that these kids receive the comprehensive sustenance they need, in terms of protection, nutrition, education, healthcare, and psychosocial support. I want to make sure that these most vulnerable children of my beloved Bengal stay safe and healthy, and continue to learn and grow in a position of security,” comments Nandana Sen.
Sudarshan Suchi, CEO, Save the Children added, “The loss that these children have suffered during COVID has made them extremely vulnerable. In addition to financial and educational support, Save the Children is ensuring trained workers and cadres provide counselling and psychosocial support for children to overcome the trauma associated with the loss of a parent or caregiver. Children who need in-depth psychosocial assistance are being carefully guided to professional mental health counsellors.
The support, given to each child on a monthly basis was allocated following a rigorous screening process to ensure that the funds are utilised to help the children in most need. The support project is being implemented, monitored and reviewed by Save the Children until the vulnerability of each child is addressed comprehensively.
In 2020 cyclone Amphan followed by cyclone YAAS in 2021 made the area extremely vulnerable. To top it, Covid-19 made the situation worse. Climate change is expected to continue to affect both natural systems and human populations in the region, resulting in further ecosystem degradation and climate migration.
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