Women at Sambalpur Make Efforts to Fight Covid-19

Bhubaneswar : This is a case of rising to the occasion and they surely know how to beat the COVID blues. At a time when the global pandemic is turning life upside down and leading to widespread job losses, here’s a group of dedicated women who are giving a new meaning to their lives — with a sense of financial empowerment.
An example of resilience and grit, these women from Hirakud in Sambalpur district of Odisha have come together under the aegis of Hindalco. Till date, they have prepared more than 25000 face masks for COVID warriors of the district and this is still on.
The huge gap between demand and supply of life-saving masks is driving these women SHGs (self-help groups) to step up to the occasion. “The members of our SHGs here have come forward voluntarily to get associated in this fight against Covid-19 and started stitching cotton face masks. The tailoring training provided to them has been fruitfully utilised through this venture,” says R K Gupta, Head of Hindalco.
There are 56 such groups at work involving more than 690 women. Many of these groups are already part of different income generation programmes (IGPs).
As a precautionary measure, all group members take extra care by wearing face masks themselves, determined to check the spread of the deadly disease.
Other groups too chip in as they cook food for those housed in the institutional quarantine centres run by the district administration.
Some of them reach out to villagers trying to explain them the importance of wearing masks, regular hand wash and social distancing so that they stay out of the harm’s way. These SHGs also form a pillar of support for ASHA and AWW (Anganwadi Workers) in gathering information on migrants and monitoring adherence to home quarantine guidelines.
That’s not all. They fill a critical gap by making more and more villagers aware about their own role in making quarantine procedures a success.
“Hindalco has been continuously supporting us from the very beginning in engaging the members of our SHG in other income-generating activities. Now during these difficult times, the company is rendering all support to prepare the masks, which not only helps us associate ourselves in the battle for COVID 19, but also makes us self-sufficient,” says Tanushree Sahoo , the President of Annapurna Self Help Group.
Gupta adds: “We have been undertaking many projects in and around Hirakud for improving the livelihood of the marginalised. One of our priorities is empowering the women folk and involve them in some economic activities that will help them supplement family income and utilise their ideal time in a productive manner.”
To help achieve this objective, “we have motivated women of our localities to form SHGs and through these groups undertake income generation programmes. Now, at this crucial juncture of COVID-19, these groups are contributing in their way in the fight against the epidemic”. Till date, we have provided around 35500 face masks, 1750 sanitizers, 1400 litres of hand wash liquids, around 4100 soaps to the people in the community. We have also ensured the spraying of 52 litres of Sodium Hypocholride and 2325 kgs of DDT/Bleaching powder spraying in the community to make the area infection-free, adds Mr Gupta.