It is time to celebrate the achievements of the amazing Atlas Corps Alumni who are making inspiring impacts against COVID-19. Today we want to talk with our Alumna Gargi (Class 1, India) about her efforts to support children during the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
Currently, Gargi works with UNICEF to ensure the safety of children in Bihar state, India. During the pandemic, she has continued to work with the Police Department and other first responders to ensure that children have safe living conditions during the lockdown.
Gargi has also launched a personal project to raise funds and advocate for populations who have been further marginalized by COVID-19 such as migrants laborers. Thank you so much, Gargi, for everything that you do! We wish you the best with this inspiring work!
Name: Gargi Saha
Home Country: India
Current organization: UNICEF
Role at current organization: Child Protection Officer
Social Issues that you have worked with: Children’s Rights
Please share with us how you are working to support children during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Being a Child Protection Officer, I am jointly responsible for the protection of children for UNICEF in Bihar state, India. As the state has received more than 4 million migrants coming from all destination states with about 20% and more being children, Bihar is a very vulnerable state.
The main focus of my role is ensuring the safety and protection of most vulnerable category of children — children in residential institutions and child migrants. As these groups are particularly susceptible to human trafficking, we need to put added effort into providing safe, stable environments for them and discouraging trafficking of any sort.
I conduct training of all Police, including the Railway Protection Forces, Crime Investigation Department, Child Welfare Police Officers, and functionaries of all 78 Child Care Institutions who look after children (approximately 2000) across the state. Railway Protection Forces have been playing a very critical role since railways are the largest and most popular/safe medium of transportation of many people (particularly migrant laborers). The partnership that I initiated with the Railways in Bihar is the first of its kind and extremely critical, especially during the current pandemic.
We developed a standard operating procedure for the Railway forces with direct guidelines for how they should interact with children they might believe are at-risk and that was circulated to all the officers at the mid-lower levels. Similarly, since Police are first responders (and during the current lockdown the ONLY service who can be seen lockdown on the roads), it is critical that they are sensitized on how to deal with the community especially children and adolescents and prevent and respond to any kind of cases of violence against children.
Do you have anything you would like to say to everybody about how we can all do our part in this pandemic?
We all have a role to play during the current pandemic. I would like to share here that even in my personal capacity, I have been able to reach out to about 150 migrants while working from home in Kolkata. We were able to make dry ration packets and I was able to generate funds through my personal contacts and friends. We will be happy to help facilitate any donations/funds or support to the needy communities in India.
During these challenging times, it is important that we all find solace in our communities and look for ways that we can help to support each other. Nobody expected that this year would go the way it has, but if we all work together, we can alleviate some of the damage of COVID-19. Whether it be starting a fundraising campaign, donating to an organization, or providing masks and other personal protective equipment, we all have a role that we can play.
Atlas Corps Fellows continue to serve in the U.S. and remote, and we reaffirm our commitment to building a network of global leaders, even- and especially- in these times. We need your help to overcome the operational challenges that Atlas Corps faces so we can continue our critical work of training the social change leaders that this world urgently needs. As a special initiative of Bonus Day on July 15th, donations of $100+ will be matched! Will you support our Fellows?