Initially, like many NGOs responding to the humanitarian crisis unleashed by the pandemic, Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action, YUVA, focused on providing relief to the communities of informal settlements, the homeless and the migrant workers. However, recognition that vulnerabilities can take different forms helped the YUVA team evolve their relief response to cater to some unusual situations.

“When we heard through an India Today news article that Mumbai’s famed Rambo Circus was stranded at Navi Mumbai, and the 90 circus performers, including five children and 21 animals, were fast running out of food, the YUVA team supplied them with rations, animal food and sanitary supplies,” says YUVA Associate Director Marina Joseph.

Children are perhaps the most vulnerable during this crisis. In response to an increased number of calls on the 1098 children-in-crisis helpline, YUVA stepped up to provide support. In one instance they were able to guide a mother separated from her baby to obtain the requisite permissions to reach the infant.

Transgender groups dependent on daily wages are also facing food and medical scarcity during the lockdown. YUVA leveraged its partner network in Vasai to provide rations to 52 transgender people. YUVA’s local teams have effectively collaborated with local partners to enhance their relief efforts in cities like Nashik, Nagpur, Delhi and Guwahati.

YUVA, set up in Mumbai in 1984, helps vulnerable groups access their rights through the formation of people’s collectives that engage in the development discourse. Since the beginning of the lockdown, YUVA emergency relief efforts have reached 9,052 households (45,260 persons). Help has been forthcoming from many well-wishers and partners in Mumbai. Victor Tango, a media production house, deployed transport vehicles to help get the rations to the needy. In partnership with Blue Sea Catering and Banquets, over 2,00,000 cooked meals were provided to the Mumbai Police and staff in government hospitals as well as migrant construction workers.

This week YUVA has launched a video challenge which has people speaking up so that #TogetherWeCan raise awareness and ensure support for the working class. To get more information about YUVA’s relief work, you can check their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram handles @OfficialYUVA.