LINCOLN, Nebraska — Kashmir, a region sitting between India and Pakistan, has seen more lockdowns than most of the world. Due to the area’s politically turbulent environment, the province has a poverty rate of 10%. This disputed land had just come out of a lockdown when COVID-19 restrictions set in and hindered what precautions could have been taken. Kashmiri healthcare workers struggle to manage COVID-19 amid the lockdown due to barriers like low-speed internet and ongoing conflict. In these extraordinary circumstances, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have stepped up their aid to healthcare and essential workers fighting COVID-19 in Kashmir.
Chinar is a nonpolitical NGO that focuses on helping marginalized women and children in Jammu and Kashmir. Its journey started in 2004, and it has gathered resources for the poor ever since. Chinar works primarily in rehabilitation and relief for disaster-struck areas. The NGO has established emergency relief camps across the Kashmir valley for migrant laborers and anyone else in need.
So far, Chinar has distributed more than 3,000 emergency relief kits in its efforts towards fighting COVID-19 in Kashmir. The organization has also collaborated with the District Disaster Management Committee to create awareness and help children recover from the loss of education.
Help Poor Voluntary Trust (HPVT)
HPVT formed in 1998. It has been working towards improving access to convenient healthcare for the poor and rural populations of Kashmir. This NGO has a strong sense of service towards all Kashmiris with a focus on equality and the right to life. It provides certain medical treatments that are free of cost, including an ambulance service that has become key in being able to transport patients to medical facilities in the valley. With the help of its volunteers and donors, HPVT has been able to open medical camps and a non-profit pharmacy to curb and manage the spread of COVID-19 among other health conditions.
Athrout is a multifaceted NGO that works for underprivileged Kashmiris. It provides free medical and educational help, social ceremonies, natural disaster relief and encourages overall empowerment. Providing healthcare is also one of the many goals of Athrout. It has taken up the critical task of donating oxygen cylinders to patients in need, especially to those on ventilators suffering from COVID-19. Athrout has also facilitated better access to PPE, masks, sanitizer and food kits for the general populous of Kashmir.
ELFA International is an NGO in Kashmir that is committed to supporting a multitude of causes. Some of them include Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction, capacity building, education, environmental conservation and now COVID-19 emergency response. The NGO serves healthcare workers, the police and locals who are in need and do not have access to protective gear and other essentials.
In addition to providing supplies to locals, ELFA International relies on innovation in fighting COVID-19 in Kashmir by employing local tailors to make triple-layered reusable face masks and other PPE. It has distributed tens of thousands of emergency supplies kits in the valley. These kits include locally made sanitizers from medical agencies.
NGOs Crucial to Mitigating Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic
The pandemic is one of many other crises that Kashmir is currently facing, but NGOs have proven to be essential to frontline workers in combatting COVID-19 in Kashmir. Disputed land and governmental conflict have inadvertently put the spotlight on those who help for the sake of humanity, driving donations and dedication to the various humanitarian causes.
NGOs have, therefore, collaborated to increase their reach and provide the people with essential supplies and disaster impact mitigation programs, such as bridging children’s gaps in education due to the pandemic and slowing the spread of the virus. The rugged region of Kashmir has long been torn by disaster, but these NGOs are working to mitigate the pandemic’s harmful effects on the Central Asian province.
– Anuja Mukherjee