MCF - Covid Lockdowns Affects Schooling

A recent New York Times headline bemoans, India Schools Stay Closed, and Hopes Fade for a Lost Generation. Recounting the failure of remote learning during the Covid lockdowns - especially in rural areas with poor internet access - the article documents case after case of children who have fallen behind and disengaged from school over the past two years.

For two decades, the Mountain Children's Foundation, or MCF, has worked in the mountain villages of Uttarakhand to engage and empower children to transform their communities from within. We teach them first about their rights as children and responsibilities as citizens. We show them how to work together, as a children's group or sangathan, how to make decisions together and how to talk with their elders and the village leaders to get support in addressing their concerns. And we help them understand how to address the problems that affect their lives such as reversing environmental degradation, improving hygiene and sanitation and keeping their villages clean, building awareness about the importance of good nutrition, and taking care of each other and those in their villages who are struggling.

While there are no national board exams to measure such learning and accomplishments, the children have always risen to the occasion.

During Covid, young people in the villages helped MCF facilitators identify families who were in danger of going without food so we could get them connected to resources. They helped spread the word about the importance of handwashing, wearing masks and keeping a distance and encouraged their families to get vaccinated and the families listened! They also taught their families about the importance of keeping their homes healthy and clean. They have been planting trees to restore their forests, drawing pictures to process the trauma of the pandemic and so much more.

The closure of schools during the pandemic has set back the education of children across the world and has had an immeasurable impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

But the young members of the MCF have not let this time go waste and I am confident that they will come through the pandemic stronger and more resilient than before.

Smita Patel is co-founder of the Mountain Children's Foundation and a member of ICA. ICA helped the MCF get its start in 2002 and continues to support its work to empower children in the Indian Himalayas.

Smita Patel
Co-Founder, Mountain Children's Foundation
Member, ICA

Recent News

Dr. Lataben Desai Awarded Padma Shri

On the eve of the Republic Day 2022, the Government of India honored Dr Lata Desai, founder of ICA-supported NGO, SEWA Rural with the prestigious Padma Shri award. This year, amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare workers and doctors have been named for their services to the field of Medicine.

Dr Lata Desai and her husband Dr Anil founded SEWA Rural in 1980 in Jhagadia, Bharuch. The couple returned from the US to dedicate their lives to rural development. Dr. Desai dedicated her entire life towards holistic, integrated well-being of tribal communities in Gujarat in the field of health, women empowerment, education and poverty alleviation since 1980.

SEWA rural is an example of not merely exemplary management but also of dispensing services with attention to the tribal areas and populations needs. Dr. Desai deserved to receive the award for making her organization grow and reach lakhs of people. ICA is proud in being part of this journey with SEWA Rural.

Jhatkaa Campaigns to Save Green Lungs (Urban Forests) in Major Cities

Jhatkaa.Org (ICA supported NGO since 2012) has made effective use of digital communication to engage and mobilize citizens at scale in India. This allows rapid dissemination of information and the ability to coordinate and mobilize disparate groups of citizens to regularly hold leaders accountable using democratic process and change the outcome. In this issue, we highlight Jhatkaa campaigns to save Urban forests which serve as the lungs of major cities.

Aarey Forest in Mumbai saved by citizen campaign

Jhatkaa started the campaign to save Aarey forest in Mumbai from the construction of a Metro shed in Maharashtra in December 2017. Three years later in October 2020, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray declared that the contentious Metro car shed would be moved to a location in Kanjurmarg instead. The announcement came as a welcome breath of fresh air to citizens and groups trying to preserve Mumbai's remaining green lung. Thackeray also added that the area declared as a forest in Aarey was also increased to 800 acres, from the previously-announced 600 acres.

Suresh Bajaj
Member, ICA

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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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