"To empower widowed and deserted women to ensure self-dignity and self-reliance by claiming their social, cultural and economic rights to a sustainable livelihood."
As the number of COVID-19 cases is decreasing in the US and Americans are returning to some sense of “normalcy,” India is having one of its worse spikes of the pandemic, reaching as many as 39,000 new cases and more that 700 new deaths daily. Tamil Nadu where Kalangarai is situated, has been one of the poorest performing states in the COVID-19 vaccine coverage, 13.8% having received at least one dose and only 3.6% having taken both. The barrier is not hesitancy but inadequate supply. Limited access to medical care and an inadequate supply of the vaccinations forced India to lock down in April, 2021 until mid-June. Life in rural villages, in particular, is far from returning to normal as people daily struggle to meet their basic needs and cope with uncertainty about their futures.
While the lockdown is needed to control the coronavirus, there are serious economic and social ramifications for the 3,200 widowed or abandoned women and
their children who participate in the Kalangarai programs. Widowed/abandoned women are the sole breadwinners for their families, work at low-paying jobs, and continue to face discrimination
due to the stigma of being widowed women. Restrictions placed on travel during the lockdown have limited other women in their ability to travel to work. Travel is allowed for only essential workers
or people who need immediate medical care. Steep fines are issued for those drivers who did not have official passes to drive.
While Indian corporations and the government assisted with donating food, there are other unmet needs. Many of the women live in thatched houses that need repair or replacement. Before the pandemic they began these repairs but now can’t complete them. Cost of building materials has skyrocketed due to increases in the cost of petrol needed to transport materials during the pandemic.
The children are also suffering from the school closings. Schools provide structure, social connection, and a future for the children and youth. All schools (private
and public), have been closed during the lockdown and online classes are not an option. St. Joseph’s Community College—a technical school that Kalangarai established after the Indian Ocean
Tsunami—had opened in December after the first lockdown ended but was required to close again in April. The psychological stresses of social isolation, hopelessness, and uncertainty about the
future are being felt by the youth and young adults. For fear that students may not return to school after the lockdown, the staff of Kalangarai will be making strong efforts to recruit
students in the villages to attend the upcoming school year.
Your support can make a difference! Donations to Friends of Kalangarai will go toward establishing sustainable asset-building enterprises, providing college tuition for students at St. Joseph’s College, educational programs for the younger children, and medical or caregiving expenses for the women affected by COVID. Your donations during June will be doubled by a matching gift of $4000. Please help us to raise $4000 so that it becomes $8000!
To make a donation click on the button below!