As reported in previous issues of FIDI Focus, Healing with Feeling, in India, is FIDI’s next charity project. The organisation supports two schools in providing children from impoverished communities with the opportunity of an education and a brighter future.
COVID-19 forced the schools to close and, simultaneously, put a pause on fundraising activities in the FIDI community. Despite the many challenges the pandemic brought with it, teachers at the two schools have switched to remote teaching wherever possible, and – with the support of the Healing with Feeling Charity Trust – continue to provide online lessons to as many students as possible.
As this edition of FIDI Focus went to press, India was rolling out the largest COVID-19 vaccine programme in the world. It is hoped that this will lead to an easing of restrictions and allow children to return to school.
In the meantime, the money raised from FIDI’s Heal with a Meal Day in 2020 will be used to supply equipment and resources to support e-learning material and equipment later this year.
Ritalli Dhillon, founder of the Healing with Feeling Charity Trust, talks about how the charity adapted to the challenges of delivering teaching in the midst of the pandemic
‘The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped volunteers working with Healing with Feeling, connecting with students and teachers at the rural and semi-urban schools at Uttarakhand. But, we have had to postpone our ongoing projects and pivot to expanding e-teaching opportunities.
‘It’s been heartening to observe how creative and versatile the volunteers and our students have been as we made these necessary changes. We believe that e-teaching might find a permanent place in future, in addition to the regular school activities.
‘The trust has initiated online volunteer teaching to fill the void created by students having to physically stay away from schools. Generous donors came forward to donate smartphones and other devices to help children connect online. Many teachers and trainers volunteered and committed themselves to training programmes for teachers and students for online teaching.
‘We had to adapt quickly to the new regime and tackle problems of the affordability of phone devices for children. They did not have the means to buy a smartphone, while many do not have Wi-Fi access and require sim cards or financial help to connect.
‘All of this is an ongoing battle that we are still trying to get to grips with.’