Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit India, it has disrupted the lives of all sections of society, particularly the poor – including victims of sex trafficking and their children in states like Bengal, Bihar and Assam. These states are not just reeling from the pandemic, they have also witnessed devastations during Cyclone Amphan and floods.
The affected women and children are deprived of food and essentials, and are living under dire circumstances. Lending them a helping hand is Ruchira Gupta, Emmy winning journalist-turned-activist and Founder of anti-sex trafficking organisation, Apne Aap Women Worldwide. She has served food and essential items to these underprivileged people over the past few months through her 1MillionMeals campaign.
On Friday, July 31, incidentally World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, she launched Phase Two of the campaign for furthering aid to these marginalised communities.
Through this campaign, Apne Aap Women Worldwide will identify victims in the worst-hit districts of Bengal, Bihar and Assam. Their network of NGOs and community leaders will then reach out to these vulnerable people and distribute food and essentials. Phase II of the campaign has several partners, including SC Johnson, Amazon Web Services, ITC, Hyatt Regency, Kolkata, Apeejay Group, and Kolkata Gives. The efforts are being coordinated by Ek Packet Umeed, LataSita, TISS and Jadavpur University students.
Fighting on the frontline
Just like the Phase One of 1MillionMeals.org Campaign, supersized ration kits containing dry rations for 100 meals and some sanitary products, will be distributed. These kits contain dal, rice, spices, soya, cooking oil, sugar, salt, masks and sanitary pads, among other essentials.
The first phase of the campaign was launched only three days after the nationwide lockdown was announced, after they received a call for aid. Today, 1MillionMeals.org is one of the biggest food drives in India, and the NGO claims to have already provided over three million meals and sanitary supplies to more than 50,000 marginalised women and children in Bengal, Bihar, Delhi, Jharkhand and Mumbai.
This campaign is being supported by some of the most reputed personalities across the world, including actor and activist Ashley Judd, feminist author and journalist Gloria Steinem, Indian actors Richa Chadha, Adil Hussain, and Abhay Deol, and Michelin star Chef Vikas Khanna, among others.
Apne Aap also has official consultative status with the United Nations and advocates for better laws and policies in the UN and different countries.
(Edited by Athira Nair)