In India, Fondation SNCF is helping us to support the population in the face of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Photo credit: Chandra Kiran Katta/AEA

Since 2017, Aide et Action and the SNCF Foundation have been working together in favour of migrant children in India by ensuring their access to education and their rights. But with the arrival of COVID-19, our project had to adapt and propose new responses to the emergence of new needs.

The project we have been developing since 2017 with the support of the SNCF Foundation, aims to guarantee access to education and rights for migrant children in India. To do this, we are building Child Care and Learning Centres on the building sites where their parents work, in the suburbs of Hyderabad in the state of Telangana. 

The first phase of the project established five centres for 1,047 children and enrolled 439 children in the surrounding schools. It has also created a more favourable environment for the development of children living on the construction sites and has significantly changed the attitude of parents by making them aware of the importance of education for their children. 

Support and reassurance

But while the second phase was supposed to focus on improving migrants' access to state rights and benefits, it was interrupted last March with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Following the confinement and closure of the work sites, migrant workers were deprived of income and many wanted to return to their home villages; despite the mortal danger that such a journey could represent.

The project therefore had to be readapted. Aide et Action and the SNCF Foundation decided to accompany the population in a different way, by offering emergency support to the families. Thanks to the facilitators present on the construction sites, the migrants were made aware of the risks involved in travelling. From then on, we ensured the supply of those who remained by providing them with basic necessities (food, health, hygiene). 

We also liaised with local authorities to ensure that migrants had access to state services and that educational continuity for their children was ensured as far as possible. Finally, thanks to our good relations with employers, we were also able to ensure that workers would be reinstated in their jobs as soon as the work sites opened.

This adaptation of our activities has enabled the most vulnerable to cope with the crisis and to feel supported, despite a very difficult context.  Normal activities will resume as soon as possible.

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