Updated: Jun 27
When the Covid-19 pandemic began, Mahesh Govind Vedpathak was oblivious to the drastic impact that the virus would have on his family. He suffers from multiple impairments due to which he is partially deaf and is unable to talk. Still, to contribute to the family income, he would help his father in their mechanic shop. His father had taken an education loan to support his brother, Mangesh’s education. Mangesh has a diploma and is currently pursuing his degree in engineering. Their father couldn’t survive the second wave of Covid-19. He left behind his wife, two sons, and an education loan. In his father’s absence, Mahesh can’t go to work. He cannot help his brother repay the loan. As the family grieves over their father’s untimely death, they take stock of the long journey ahead of them and wonder if there is any light at the end of it all.
Social distancing- A Privilege
It is the inevitable truth the Covid-19 has impacted some more than the others. The pandemic has exposed and intensified the exclusion of the most vulnerable marginalized communities. Some made it to the news and our social media walls, while many didn’t. They remained forgotten. The lockdown and recovery measures following the unprecedented public health emergency have disproportionately impacted people with disabilities, one of the groups most vulnerable to neglect and exclusion in times of unrest and crisis. A person with disability, in most cases, requires additional support. With Covid-19, a new reality has come to the fore. It consists of social distancing, masks, work from home, online education, and a very large rate of unemployment and deaths. This new reality has rendered many persons with disabilities vulnerable, as they aren’t able to move out and seek help. Just like many persons with disabilities in the country, Mahesh relies on his family to help him move past the obstacles on his path. With his father gone, his brother looking for a job and the mechanic shop closed, he is anxious about his future. During these turbulent times, who’d come across to help him and his family, to lend them a hand?
As per the census of 2011, India has over 26 million people with disabilities, that is, 2.2 percent of the Indian population. Even before the pandemic, this section of our population struggled greatly to find the right infrastructure for their needs and now with all these new provisions in place, their hardship has intensified. Many people with disabilities rely on others to move around, they rely on alternate options to communicate, however, with masks and social distancing measures in place, it has become hard for them to even have their basic needs met. Social distancing is a privilege that this group simply cannot afford. Many of them have underlying medical conditions and are at a higher risk of contracting the virus. For them, the virus is a stark reminder of their disability, their vulnerability. During these times, their families often have had to leave work to take care of them or were rendered unemployed like many in the country. A study by the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) has shown that out of the 1000 differently-abled persons they interviewed, 73 percent of the respondents faced severe hardships and challenges during the pandemic.
Help us, Help them
We, at GSP, recognize the struggle that the marginalized people with disabilities are going through. Hence, we have started a Covid-19 relief program under which we seek to support persons with disabilities who require assistance. GSP has initiated a COVID-19 relief drive for persons with disabilities in Marathwada region - Aurangabad- Latur & other 6 districts. A helpline number has been set up and essential support is delivered to the doorstep with the help of volunteers. What started as a program to support Swadhar’s beneficiaries has extended to support all the PwD in need. Through our crowd-funding program, we aim to mobilize resources in the form of volunteers, financial aid, and material aid from socially sensitive individuals. Through this very program, we reached Mahesh and provided the needed support to him and his family. As we continue to cope with this enormous health crisis, it is crucial for us to not exclude this segment of our population. To help more people like Mahesh, we ask for your support for our Covid-19 relief program. Your donation can help change someone’s life during this pandemic. We can beat Covid-19 if we all work together. So, let’s do that, shall we?
Donate now to support People with Disabilities. Visit our crowdfunding campaign: https://bit.ly/3glA2UX
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