Ruchika’s Response to COVID-19

The worldwide outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has left the world in a face of on an unprecedented crisis. Due to the enforced national lockdown in India, the lives of thousands marginalized people including daily wage earners, migrant workers along with their families, transgender, the elderly people etc. are crumbling down.

It has lead to numerous problems, especially for those who live in a ‘hand to mouth’ situation throughout the year. Many of them have lost their livelihood and are struggling to fend for their families. 

The worst affected population is children especially  those living on the streets and in the slums, the children of nomadic tribes and the differently-abled children.    They are not only affected by the disease itself, the pandemic has affected them in many forms. Children are found sleeping on the street in hungry pangs and even without a cloth   Medical service is almost a distant dream during this crisis. Horrifyingly many children are exposed to all kinds of abuse and exploitation including sexual abuses.  

In Odisha, we find ourselves in the middle of a crisis that is changing shape every week; and as it unfolds, we are witnessing large sections of the slum population in Bhubaneswar  being stripped of their basic needs of food and medication.

In this time of uncertainty, we at Ruchika believe that it is our duty to ensure that the relief and measures trickle down to the grassroots, for the vulnerable communities, who need it the most. In addition, we are also trying our best to help the vulnerable communities to find sustainable community based alternative livelihood options to live a dignified life.

Ruchika has been working with street, slum and railway children, children with disabilities for last 35 years and address their education, nutrition, health care and child protection issues. From 2019 we have started intervening with the livelihood issues of transgender community. We follow a rights based approach in all our interventions. In view of the alarming situation in these underprivileged groups Ruchika started the following short-term and long-term interventions as follows:

Short term food relief :

Short term direct food relief was provided to 150 families of Transgender living in Bhubaneswar which include ration for a family for about one month (rice, dal, sugar, milk powder, flattened rice, oil etc.) and hygiene materials like mask, soap etc.

Identified 120 families of children with disabilities in Bhubaneswar slums and they were provided with ration and hygiene and sanitary materials.

About 50 families identified in the slums who were debarred of ration card or inclusion in the government PDS scheme. They were provide with ration.

200 children living on the street have been identified. Some of them are living alone and some living with their families. They were provided with dry ration and hygiene materials.

600 slum children and 200 slum community people also have been provided with masks and soaps with health advice in 15 slums of Bhubaneswar.

In addition, Ruchika continues to look after all kinds of health issues of the marginalized children and slum families during lockdown. A group of 09 Childline workers have been engaged day and night who reach out to the children living in every corners of the city without food and medication. They carry dry food, hygiene materials and first aid kits to address emergency needs of the children. Our credo is “We are not lockdown”

Training on prevention measures :

Protect yourself and others around you by knowing the facts and taking appropriate precautions.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19…

  • Clean your hands at least 10 times a day using soap and water. Follow all 08 steps of hand washing processes for 30 seconds.
  • Maintain a safe distance from every one (at least for 2 metres).
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Stay home and do not go out.
  • Use mask when you go out in emergency.
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.

These are the educative catchphrases of our training programs for the target participants to learn. We not only teach them what to do, we also teach them how to do it and explain the children and transgender why to do this.


Provision of Psycho-social support :

In the current context of lock down and restriction of movements, children have constrained access to socialization, play, and even physical contact, critical for their psychosocial wellbeing and development. School closures are preventing children from access to learning and limiting their interactions with peers. Children sometimes feel confused and at loss with the current situation, leading to frustration and anxiety, which increase with the overexposure to mass and social media, especially among adolescents. Some adults may struggle to find ways to explain and communicate with children about the current situation in a way that is understandable by this age group, which add frustration and disquietude.

A manual has been developed by Childline India Foundation to support CHILDLINE supporting children affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The manual is activity-based and so minimal supervision or guidance is needed. There are activities for two age groups – ages six to ten and 11 to 19.  By use of these activities we continue to support the children living in institutions and on the street thus ventilate their anxiety and stress. We are also in the process of translating the booklet into Odia language so that the same can by easily used by the parents and care givers.

E-learning for children :

The COVID-19 has resulted in schools shut all across the country.  Millions of children are out of the classroom. It affects strongly the children of slums as they do not access e-learning facilities. Because most of them are first generation learners and a large number of children do not access a smart phone for the purpose. However with a well-built effort, we are able to reach out to about 3000 children living in the slums with e-learning processes. 65 teachers and 10 special educators are working on the issues and reaching to a large group of children. The objective is to enhance their academic proficiency at par with their peers in the school.

In addition, through E-learning process we are also reaching out to a number of underprivileged youth across the slums and training them to find a job. They all are taught Yuva English (Communicative English), Workplace readiness and Basic computer. We also teach customer relation and retail sales and logists and office assistant as sector skills so that at the end of four month course they can be able to find a job in the competitive job in the city.

Help searching alternative livelihood options :

The transgender communities have already lost their livelihood during lockdown. Hence they are counseled to adopt community based sustainable alternative livelihood options for a dignified living. We try to help them learn the trade skills as per their preference like beauty and wellness, Paytm agents, biofloc fish farming, food processing etc.

Addressing Domestic Violence :

Although home may be considered a safe place for some, it is not the safest place for all. In fact, with COVID-19 lockdown in place, there has been a surge in cases of domestic violence. All over the country, victims of domestic violence are more vulnerable and at risk to a frighteningly new degree of violence. The National Commission for Women (NCW) has raised an urgent alert about the increasing number of domestic violence cases since the national lockdown began. Domestic violence involves a pattern of psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse. Acts of assault, threats, humiliation, and intimidation are also considered acts of violence.

We ensure that support and medical care services for women and children affected by such violence are reached immediately. 1500 adolescent girls in 65 goups have been trained to identify the occurrence of domestic violence on women and children and address these issues. If necessary we take the support of police to address the critical issues of domestic violence.

Our future reach :

We are already in process to reach out to  1000    families with double layer masks, soaps and 300 Covid warriors with hand gloves and N95 masks in Choudwar city in Cuttack District and Dhenkanal in Dhenkanal District. In addition, wash materials will be supplied to 40 community toilets in both these districts.

Gratitude :

We express our heart-felt gratitude for the timely support and guidance of our compassionate donors in this difficult time to continue our relief work for vulnerable children and communities as an immediate response to Covid-19 pandemic.

The work benefited over 5000 marginalized slum and street children, their families and 150 transgender in the city of Bhubaneswar. In addition we will be reaching out to 1000 families and 300 Covid warriors in this week in Cuttack and Dhenkanal district. Tech Mahindra Foundation, Childline India Foundation, AdoptionsCentrum, Sweden, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd., Practical Action, Nepal and Bodhi Project, Belgium are some of the major donors who supported for this relief services. Because of their generosity, we are able to reach out to the needy children and people with instantaneous support.

Appeal :

We are reaching out to a very small section of vulnerable communities with the support of our compassionate donors. But there is a lot to do for the children and other vulnerable sections in the state to address Covid crisis. We need your help to reach out to children and people in need.

Your donations will be tax exempted u/s 80 (G) of Income Tax Act.

You may donate funds in the name of Ruchika Social Service Organisation. Donations in kinds are also accepted for the welfare of children. Please write to us your quarries – Please visit us at and you can also contact us by our telephone – 0674-2340583