Across the world, people are facing situations and scenarios they’ve never encountered before. The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to make sudden, drastic shifts to keep ourselves and our communities healthy and safe. But even in these uncertain times, there are signs of optimism. People from all corners of the globe are carrying out selfless acts in these times of distress.

We are also doing our bit to map, measure and mitigate the sufferings caused due to the pandemic, especially for the disadvantaged and poor because we believe that it is that strata of society that suffers the most in case of any calamity, financial depression, epidemic or a pandemic. It is estimated that the pandemic could push 150 million into extreme poverty in India and the numbers are frightening. Several media reports have mirrored light on the rampant physical & sexual violence faced by India’s 80 million lower-class women, who like their male counterparts fade at the bottom of India’s unrelenting caste and communal hierarchy. These women face a “triple load” of gender prejudice, caste discrimination and financial deprivation. With a pandemic which has now been upending lives for the last six months with no end in sight, the number of people at the margins who are suffering is increasing.

To help the vulnerable, KIIT and KISS has come forward to adopt around 100 orphan children and has vowed to help them out. It is important to mention here that most of the adopted children are girls. A complete assistance including short term and long term intervention is being provided to them. While the short term help includes a provision of Rs. 5000-10,000 each for sustenance, long term help includes free of cost education at KISS so that they can secure a decent job and livelihood. Instead of a one-time aid, a complete assistance programme such as ours can make a real impact in the lives of the vulnerable sections of society.

I feel I understand the helplessness, turmoil and crusading hardships of living in poverty and humiliation because I have faced similar circumstances. My bitter learning experiences make me empathise with the conditions of the unprivileged who can be helped by access to education and employment. Backed by such experience, I extend a helping hand to people in distress, especially the children by reaching out to them and helping them without any delay. I am enraged by the Hathras and Balrampur gang rape cases and condemn such brutal acts and feel satisfied that the girls we adopt will have a safe and a secure life because we understand how difficult it is for girls with limited or no resources to lead a life of dignity.

From the many instances of help to the needy, KISS Foundation has come to the rescue of three hapless orphan siblings of Bhogibandha village in Ganjam District who lost their mother and father in August and September. On obtaining information regarding the plight of these tribal children from the media, we decided to provide Rs. 3000 per month to each of them to meet their expenses. We also assured complete education to these children at KISS when it reopens after the pandemic. In fact, KIIT and KISS are the only educational institutions in the world that have promised free professional education for the children of the deceased through COVID-19 and fifteen students have taken admission so far. This announcement is valid till the next year and we hope to provide hope to those children who have lost their loved ones.

Quality education has the power to ameliorate all sufferings from the life of a poor child and security of food and shelter ensures that the benefit of education is reaped. Our intervention is at the intersection of food security, safe living with dignity and access to quality education free of cost – much like our timely help to Rahul Mahat. I can never see a talented and meritorious student opting to discontinue his/her education due to financial constraints. KISS Foundation has promised to aid the kid who secured 87 percent marks in +2 exams but took to selling ‘Gupchup’ to manage his family expense. He has been given admission in KIIT University. At KIIT, Rahul will have access to the best quality education in Mechanical Engineering free of cost and will pursue a career of his choice. We also gave him a laptop for online classes and financial help of Rs.10,000 for his sustenance now and monthly financial assistance to Rahul’s family for the years he will be studying at KIIT.

KIIT and KISS, without any hesitation and delay reach out to the unreached and help them emerge out of the sufferings. We believe in assessing the situation, identifying the needy and do everything in our capacity to bring a glimmer of hope in their lives. A complete 360 degree approach is far more efficient and effective than one time dole or charity that tramples their dignity. We help the vulnerable believe in their capacity to move ahead to prevent the next generation from suffering the way we did.