Letter from the President

Dear Friends,

The second wave of the vicious COVID-19 virus is nothing short of devastating. By all projections, the situation is going to be worse in the second week of May. The crisis has escalated to a point where Government help alone will not suffice.

This is where our NGO partners in India have stepped in with their grassroots network of volunteers and workers who are able to reach deep into the communities needing help.

We are getting reports that volunteers are helping provide food, medicines, transportation, make-shift COVID facilities, in some cases since the pharmacies have run out of drugs, they are offering homeopathy medicines to mitigate the suffering of those afflicted. We are working with organizations who are able to send equipment to hospitals quickly.

Rather than watch helplessly from here, we can each play a valuable role. We can collect funds and send them to these wonderful charitable organizations who are at the forefront, providing relief. We must act now. Please reach out to family and friends and have them support these NGOs.

ICA is sending funds directly to NGOs to reach families who need help and to hospitals who need critical equipment. Let's all reach out and support the NGOs.

Stay safe and may your family and friends stay healthy.

With prayers,
Reshma Nigam

Recent News

Devastating COVID-19 Second Wave in India

India is seeing a devastating second wave of COVID infections with hundreds of thousands of new infections daily, mainly in northern and western India. As we feel overwhelmed by the news, the words of singer and songwriter Joan Baez can give us strength and resolve: "Action is the antidote to despair." Our NGOs are taking action, and have sent us their approaches to mitigating this catastrophe.

  • Dr Anagha Amte of Lok Biradari Prakalp writes that 60-70K Covid-positive cases are detected daily in Maharashtra state, and 600-700 people with Covid die daily, many much younger than previously seen. Hospital beds and ICU beds are full. Injectable remdisivir is in short supply and black market sales have started. In Hemalkasa, Covid patient numbers are increasing but as test results come after 2-3 days, (sometimes later due to lack of availability of PCR machines) patients spread the disease in their villages during that time. Vaccination was very slow in Bhamragad and Hemalkasa as many people did not come forward due to false rumors of a kidney smuggling racket. LBP is trying to create awareness in the villages about vaccination. They now have permissions to vaccinate and are inviting one village a day for vaccination.
  • From Kanpur city, Anil Gupta of Kanpur Parivartan Forum tells us that for oxygen shortage, the problem is a sudden steep rise in demand and time needed to adjust the delivery system to cope with this sudden jump. The government has strictly ordered all oxygen units to only produce health grade oxygen: production and distribution of industrial grade oxygen has been banned. Because of the panic, people are storing their cylinders for 'in case of emergency'. That has further heightened the demand and supply gap, especially short supply of cylinders. But the situation is slowly getting better with government intervention in distribution help. Kanpur Parivartan Forum is offering basic medicine kits for needy people affected by the Covid-19 and working with oxygen suppliers to fill the collected empty cylinders and then provide them to needy patients.
  • Gopalji Bhai, founder of ABSSS based in Chitrakoot, a rural area in UP / MP, is not as optimistic since the situation in villages is worse than in the cities. He says, every family in the Chitrakoot area has one or more patients with Covid-19. With no medical help, they are totally helpless and have accepted this as part of their fate.
  • Maya Vishwakarma of Sukarma Foundation reports that in this COVID19 second wave crisis, their telemedicine clinic is particularly useful. They are providing free doctor consultation and to some extent medicine to needy people in this difficult time.
  • The Shirdi Sai Baba Temple Society is providing free nutritious meals to COVID affected families in Faridabad, Haryana since 19th April 2021, organizing Blood Donation Camps, organizing COVID vaccination camps, manufacturing and supplying free washable cotton Masks, and spreading the message on how to minimize exposure with masks, distancing, hand-washing and staying home.

Cotton sanitary napkins manufactured by BNGVN

Reusable Cotton Sanitary Napkins

While working with rural and tribal women providing skills for employment and income generation over two decades, Bhagini Nivedita Gramin Vigyan Niketan (BNGVN) has learned of various issues women face. One of them is regarding usage of sanitary napkins. The existing products are not reusable, not easily disposable, unaffordable, and uncomfortable.

Rural women tend to use old dirty cloths. Following research into viable options, BNGVN has initiated an ICA-supported project on manufacturing reusable cotton sanitary napkins, which generates employment for women while addressing an essential unmet need.


Women's Leadership Initiative

The Women's Leadership Initiative starts its 2021 program with a 2-day virtual workshop titled "Train the Trainer" in mid-August 2021. Geared towards small- to medium-sized NGOs in India, this virtual workshop is aimed at organizations looking to enhance the skills of their staff, volunteers, managers and their community coordinators exploring topics that will make a positive difference in building and increasing their capacity.

We'll be joined by a line-up of experienced leaders and trainers offering best practices to be able to sustain, accelerate and improve performance, and to enable them to pass those skills on to others in their community. Stay tuned, let us know if you would like to recommend an NGO in India or if you are an NGO interested in participating. Email us at womensinitiative@icaonline.org.

For more information visit https://icaonline.org/womens-leadership-initiative/

ICAs First FORUM event of 2021: March 5, 2021

The first Forum event of the year had a record attendance of around 90 people, and was streamed live on Facebook. The guest speakers were Dr. Ravi Chopra, and Zubin Sharma, two social entrepreneurs, who relocated from the US to India to initiate social change at the grass-roots level. These two individuals from different generations and different decades shared a vision: to live and work with the vulnerable segments of India's population to bring relief to them.

Read more and watch their conversation with Ritu Marwah at https://icaonline.org/mar-6th-dr-ravi-chopra-and-zubin-sharma/

Apply for the Youth LEAD program!

Given the deteriorating situation in India, Maharashtra and Hemalkasa with regard to COVID, we have decided to call off the youth "LEAD" (Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Action, Development) Program trip for the summer of 2021.

For any questions about the application process, fundraising or other concerns please email us at youthprograms@icaonline.org. We look forward to hearing from you.

Previous Issues

Previous Issues


2020-21 Executive Committee
  • President: Reshma Nigam
  • VP, Strategy 3.0: Prakash Agarwal
  • Secretary: Abhay Bhushan
  • Treasurer: Jayashree Desale
  • Project Chair: Govind Desale
  • Content Chair: Mayuranki Almaula
  • Marketing Chair: Sharmila Kumar
  • Women's Leadership Chair: Lata Patil
  • Youth & Initiatives Chair: Padma Chari



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Newsletter Editor: Raji Pillai [www.rajiwrites.com]