A Letter From Our Founder, Regarding COVID-19April 13, 2020
Over the past several weeks, the Shanti Bhavan team has been working to respond to the continued threat of COVID-19. I write to inform you that we have committed to keeping the campus operational during the summer break, which usually begins in mid-April.
In consultation with the families and communities we serve, it was decided that having students stay on our remote campus rather than returning to their homes will provide the safest environment possible. This decision was taken with the permission and at the request of the parents and guardians of our children.
Many students’ families struggle to access consistent food and water supplies, while sharing small living spaces with relatives. Shanti Bhavan, on the other hand, is able to provide for all the necessities of our children, while also ensuring their health and well-being during the pandemic. It is our hope that allowing students to remain on campus will lessen the additional economic challenges that many of their families are facing at this time.
As the government has mandated a lockdown, if our children were sent back to their homes, we are unsure of when they might be allowed to return. This would pose additional risks beyond potentially contracting COVID-19; we know from past experience that students who are deprived of education and the supportive environment of Shanti Bhavan are less likely to return to school, and more likely to get married, confront abuses, or be put to work to earn money for the family. For the good of our children and their overall well-being, we will keep Shanti Bhavan running through this crisis.
The decision to continue campus operations during the summer break presents new challenges to the Shanti Bhavan team. Our teachers and staff will be shouldering the extra burden of caring for the children beyond the standard school year, providing them with instruction, supervision, and other essential care without the support of our international volunteer team. Maintaining our services will impose an unanticipated strain on financial and other resources.
Now, more than ever, we need your help. I ask that you consider a donation to the Shanti Bhavan COVID-19 Sustainability Fund, to aid in our efforts to maintain operations. Your gift will ensure the continued health, well-being, and education of our children.
I hope that you and your family remain in good health as we navigate this global crisis together.
In response to the crisis created by COVID-19, Shanti Bhavan has taken the following actions to ensure the wellbeing of its students and community:
- We have evacuated all international volunteers and staff.
- Nonessential travel to and from campus has been strictly restricted.
- We have strengthed our already diligent handwashing and sanitation policies.
- We are educating our students about the pandemic in age appropriate ways.
- We maintain frequent communication with graduates in Bangalore and abroad to ensure they have the resources they need at this time.
- We are procuring additional food and medical supplies to supplement campus resources.
- We have implemented a plan to allow students to remain on campus during our upcoming summer break, in consultation with, and at the request of, their families.
- In coordination with Baldev, our community clinic, we are supporting 250 families — over 1,000 men, women, and children — with the essential provisions they need during the government-mandated lockdown.