The American India Foundation (AIF), in partnership with New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV) held a live telethon fundraiser this past Sunday, raising awareness and 2 Million Dollars/Rs 15.2 Crore in funds to provide effective and holistic rehabilitation of migrant communities in India through health, education and livelihood support.
The #RebuildingLives telethon watched live by 300 million viewers on primetime television and digital platforms worldwide, featured interviews and commentaries by key figures in the fight against COVID-19, including award-winning Indian film actress, Taapsee Pannu, Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, United Nations, Eric Falt, Director and UNESCO Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives & Sri Lanka, Junaid Ahmad, Country Director-India, World Bank, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson, Biocon Limited and the key Ministers of the Odisha, UP and Karnataka state governments.
“AIF is grateful for the overwhelming support the campaign has got both in the US and in India. Millions of migrant women, children and youth have been severely hit by the COVID-19 induced humanitarian crisis and we have to invest in their present today to secure their future tomorrow”, said Nishant Pandey, CEO of American India Foundation. “We are inspired by the strength and resilience migrant families have shown. Imagine what they can achieve if we invest in their health, education and livelihoods now”, he added. More than 40 million migrant daily-waged workers have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 induced lockdown in India and need urgent help to rebuild their lives.
Among others, the global two-hour event featured a story on 15-year old Doctaren Khadia from Magurpani in Odisha and her journey to becoming the head of the household when the COVID-19 lockdown was first announced in India. Doctaren’s parents are seasonal migrants and work in brick kilns located in a different state. Inspired by such stories, AIF Board members, Lata Krishnan, Harit Talwar and Venkat Srinivasan have committed $150,000 in matching funds, to double the impact of every dollar or rupee donated.
Recognizing contributions made by prominent donors, the telethon featured interviews with Vivek & Vandana Sharma, Pravin Goel, BlackRock’s Managing Director & Country Head, Manu Shah, CEO of MS International, Gary Norcross, Chairman, President & CEO of (FIS), Anand Ramamoorthy, Managing Director, Micron India and Manoj Balachandran, Head – CSR, IBM India & South Asia.
The telethon was part of a 21-day #RebuildingLives campaign by AIF and NDTV. The migrant workers, many of whom have now returned home to their villages, face even bigger challenges in the days ahead as they face the risk of hunger, indebtedness and prolonged unemployment. Attention is required towards a sustainable and resilient rebuilding of the lives of migrant workers and their families through a multi-pronged response, addressing health, education and livelihoods needs – both in the source and destination areas of migration.
The comprehensive and holistic COVID-19 response framework put forth by AIF consists of continuity, retention, remediation and online learning for children, supporting community health workers with knowledge and protection and livelihood support for youth who have lost their jobs. AIF seeks the support of its donors and partners to augment its resources for the urgent implementation of this COVID-19 Response Strategy.