When the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in India back in March, staff from the Sambhavna and Chingari clinics immediately began taking steps to safeguard gas survivors in the local communities from the virus. They began recruiting volunteers from those communities to help spread the word and protect their fellow citizens. These volunteers have formed the backbone of Bhopal’s community response to coronavirus, a startlingly effective set of measures that would never have been possible without volunteers working tirelessly for months, while risking their own health, to protect their neighbours.
This community campaign against Covid-19, which we are calling Bhopal’s Community Shield, began with 15 neighbourhoods around the abandoned UCC factory. Earlier this month this was expanded to include 20 more communities and an additional 20,000 people, bringing the total to more than 50,000. Before the expansion there were 150 active community volunteers working in these communities, and this number has since increased as individuals from the 20 new communities are volunteering their time.
The community volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and cover all age groups, from young children all the way up the elderly. Along with the doctors and trained medical staff, these volunteers are the real heroes of Bhopal during this time of crisis. Today we wish to thank them all for their incredible work and share some pictures of their most recent project, a fresh poster campaign in both the old and new communities. One poster provides information on steps that can be taken to prevent the spread of the virus, such as effective hand-washing techniques, face coverings, social distancing and instructions on how to self-isolate. The other has images of individuals who have been affected by the virus, warning their fellow citizens of the danger and providing advice on how best to avoid it.
Below are pictures of the community volunteers carrying out this campaign. We invite you once again to meet the citizens of Bhopal, who continue to prove every day that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things.
All photos by Biju Nair.