Raintree Foundation extends helping hand to villagers of Velhe in Pune district in their hour of despair amid COVID-19
Published on December 21, 2020 at 3:50 am
Updated on March 20, 2021 at 06:46 am
Raintree Foundation practices place-based philanthropy and approaches its programme area of nine villages in Velhe Block (Pune District, Maharashtra) through an ecosystemic lens, where it seeks to establish economic prosperity for the communities in the project area in balance with the prosperity of the environment.
The rural communities living in Velhe were one of the earliest to be severely affected by the pandemic. They are experiencing extreme distress with the shortage of food, loss of income and large-scale reverse migration that is putting a stress on local resources.
Raintree Foundation has provided over 513 dry ration kits to distressed rural families, created community WhatsApp groups to address the spread of false news and disinformation while ensuring that they receive official news and tips on coping mechanisms to deal with the crisis.
It has also started a professional counselling service whereby its group of clinical psychologists are reaching out to the community and front-line public officials, police and medical staff in Velhe. Additionally, it has partnered with Wellbeing Volunteers United to extend counselling support to urban populations.
Speaking to The Good Sight, Leena Dandekar, Founder and Director, Raintree Foundation, said, “Our short-term goal over the next two years is to reduce household expenses by utilising local resources and increase family income by promoting local micro-enterprises such as backyard kitchen gardening, improved paddy cultivation, backyard poultry farming, fodder development, mushroom cultivation and weekly markets. Our goal is to build resilient and thriving ecosystems within which the community can prosper. At the core of Raintree’s work is the belief that environmental prosperity and human development can intersect and lead to community stewardship of ecosystem conservation.”
Helpline turns lifeline
Mental health care is the need of the hour as we have seen an unprecedented rise in stress and anxiety across the population, especially front-line workers who are working tirelessly for our safety, according to Leena Dandekar, Founder, Raintree Foundation. “We hope our counselling and helpline services can offer some respite and provide the necessary support during this difficult time,” she said.
Of the 708 people counselled in the nine villages in Velhe, 133 were government officials from the village and block levels. Fear and distress related to uncertainty, death and getting COVID-19 infection was the most talked about during the counselling, followed by general information on COVID-19, its symptoms and treatment.
People generally expressed ignorance about what was going on and said they felt relieved to have this helpline as a source of information. Concerns surrounding the lockdown, quarantine and unemployment also formed a significant part of the discussion for many people.
Government officials on the front lines expressed the additional concern of living away from family for long periods which added to their stress levels and were very grateful for the help they received.
(Raintree Foundation was set up by the Dandekar family to deliver their social impact agenda – dignity for all. They combined their passion for environmental conservation and community development with the vision that rural India can prosper, take ownership of this prosperity and live in their ancestral homes with dignity and in balance with nature.)