The pandemic has had a huge impact on the people of India and, of course, on our projects. Since April 2020, schools have been closed all over the country. This also affects the Montessori Preschool in Perumalmalai and the PEARL Playschool in Paramakudi. Only since September 2021 a slow opening of the educational institutions begins, but for the time being only for the upper grades. Our schools remain closed.
No school also means the elimination of the mandatory lunch, it means increased child labour and an increase in marriages of underage girls. It is also not certain how many children will return to school after an opening. The missing lessons of soon 600 days will leave a gap in the education of a whole generation. It is a drama, not only in India, but also in many countries in Asia, Africa and South America.
Distress is rising in families. The pandemic brought unemployment and lack of money and food for many. Malnutrition and hunger are the result. In addition, there is a much larger number of Covid -19 diseases and deaths than we have experienced in Europe. Due to the overload of the health system, other diseases are also on the rise again and often cannot be treated. This means great suffering for many.
In these times of greatest need, the work of our projects was and is made very difficult by government requirements. Only with a lot of fantasy and sometimes in a indirect way, the affected people could be helped. In many cases, food and, in winter, warm blankets are distributed. As a substitute for the school meals that were cancelled, a daily lunch is prepared and distributed for a limited number of children and old people. As far as possible, lessons are offered to the children outside of school and three vaccination events have been held at PEARL in cooperation with the community. All this is just a drop in the ocean, but so necessary to keep the contact going. Of course, staff salaries had to continue to be paid, because what would we do without them when the schools reopen.
The consequences of this difficult time are not yet foreseeable, but there will be a lot of work for our projects. We are very grateful to our donors for not abandoning us and our projects.