Mr. G. Kallana Gowda (Kallan) is a Community Systems Strengthening expert with a career spanning over 2 decades spent in directly mentoring and capacitating 117+ Community Based Organizations of Female Sex Workers (FSW), Men who have Sex with Men (MSM), Trans Gender people (TG) and Injecting Drug Users (IDU) across 48 Districts in 19 States of India.
He presently serves as Chief Impact Officer for Marginalized Communities at Swasti and is the National Coordinator for the Taaras Coalition – a coalition of women in sex work and their organizations across 12 States of the country with a membership of 1,57,000+ marginalized women.
From the second week of March, 2020, we have extended our support to Community Organizations to help them protect their community members from COVID -19.
Our primary objective has been:
- To guide and support field team (Health and Well-being Managers and Wellness Facilitators) to engage with community members during these desperate times
- To be available to the teams of frontline workers whenever they required any guidance and to support responsive and quick decision making
- To share correct information and curb the spread of fake information
- Encourage community members to practice proper hand washing method following the 8 Steps to Handwashing
- Encourage community members to practice Social Distancing with guidance tailored to the constraints of their location settings.
- To keep in touch with each staff member, Arogya Groups and community members.
To achieve this objective, we have conducted the following activities.
- Shared the translated text and audio versions of the Catalyst Group’s Covid-19 Advisory with all Community Organizations and oriented them about different levels of alerts and how it applies to them with regards to the services they render to community members.
- We have also explained the importance of safety of individual staff members, leaders and how we can ensure safety of community members by practicing precautionary measures.
- Initiated and regularised a system of online catch ups to support field activities while layering on communication around precautions for Covid-19 and response mechanisms. Here is how it works:
At the national level, the CIOs and SPMs are participating, led by CIO. They have initiated and regularised daily whatsapp updates, new updates from COVID Command Centre, progress in the field level activities, challenges on the field, local level stakeholder coordination and measures taken for safety of the field teams.
At the state level, the RIOs and HWM are participating, led by SPM. They have initiated new updates from COVID Command Centre, progress in the field level activities, the field level activities, challenges on the field, local level stakeholder coordination and COVID effect on sex work & medicine for PLHIV that is discussed in every two days.
At the CO level, RIOs, BOD & HWM, WFs are participating, led by RIO. They have initiated and regularised new updates from COVID Command Centre, understanding members’ status related to Corona infection and key challenges faced by members are updated and discussed on a daily basis.
Here is what we have been doing:
- Formed WhatsApp groups of Managers, Frontline Workers and Community Leaders and Champions to address any fears, fake news and on ground requirements. These groups are run in the language of the communities and serve as a quick share platform for validated information on Corona Virus and disseminates IEC materials developed by respective governments and departments in regional language
- Voice messages that explain the materials are sent with each to help initiate conversations and clarify doubts, if any.
- Initiated Hand washing Challenge among Arogya Group members based on 8 steps.
- All trainings and events even at community settings have been moved online on the choice of App and Platform of the community or has been rescheduled till further notice.
At the Community Settings:
- Wellness Facilitators undertook extensive awareness generation work in the communities- door to door campaigns, small group trainings – to build a groups of empowered #CovidWarriors.
- The community organisations met key District Officials to extend support for activities organised to prevent COVID-19 in their districts and localities.
- The community organisations have been working closely with People Living With HIV/AIDS who are more vulnerable to Covid-19 to ensure uninterrupted ART services for them, cross-checking with them on stock of medicines and their general health and well-being.
- The community organisations have initiated a listing of most vulnerable community members identifying them as having pre-existing health conditions or having no alternative livelihoods to be able to earn from during this period of crisis. The organizations would then proceed to finding solutions to protect the health and well-being of this sub-group.
As we partner our communities, we are immensely grateful for your support that makes this possible.
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