On the Frontline: Sowing the Seeds of Relief | Tech Mahindra

On the Frontline: Sowing the Seeds of Relief

The Tech Mahindra Foundation Army On Ground

When the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out, it disrupted the socio-economic balance of the world in a way we had never witnessed before. It devastated not just the way we work but the way we live. For us at The Tech Mahindra Foundation, overcoming this was not just our corporate social responsibility (CSR). It was a call of duty for swift action on the ground to help our most vulnerable communities. We knew we needed to step up not just as individuals but as the collective Mahindra Group firmly rooted in three core tenets – accepting no limits, alternative thinking, and driving positive change.  

And just as we were beginning to overcome the first wave, the second wave hit us hard. We saw our healthcare infrastructure under immense pressure due to a massive scarcity of medical equipment, skilled professionals, and supplies. We saw a rising need for relief kits for the less fortunate. We saw frontline workers risking their lives every day, overwhelmed by the extent of work. We saw people from all parts of the country search high and low for oxygen cylinders, medicine and hospital beds just to survive. We could hear their deafening cries increase each day.

Thus, we resolved to RISE together.


Rebuilding and Fortifying Our Emergency Medical Infrastructure

India’s public health system had become a ticking time bomb as we grappled with 400,000 cases a day with only 95,000 ICU beds available across the country. Our immediate mission was to bridge this medical resource gap with our technology, research, and expertise.

We focused on government health departments and various charitable hospitals in rural, underdeveloped regions. We enabled access to critical and state-of-the-art medical equipment and supply that included ventilators, hospital fowler beds, cardiac monitors, oxygen cylinders and concentrators, syringe pumps, and BiPAP machines. So far, we have provided 35 hospitals and counting with state-of-the-art equipment and supplies to support the healthcare efforts of our government.

In response to the severe oxygen crisis in this second wave, we partnered with #OxygenForIndia, a campaign under the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) to deploy 3000 concentrators and 40,000 cylinders across to patients and hospitals in urgent need. We also support an initiative by Democracy People Foundation called Mission Oxygen to ensure all nursing homes, hospitals, and medical care facilities have access to oxygen, particularly in tier-II cities. The aim is to make medical institutions across the country self-sufficient by setting up pressure swing adsorption (PSA) plants, which can produce 55 oxygen cylinders per day that can support nearly 30 patients. This also prepares us better for the third wave.


Equipping Healthcare Workers with Skills to Fight the Third Wave  

These first two waves made it abundantly clear that we needed more skilled healthcare professionals on the frontline. Even with the effects of the second wave subsiding, a possible third wave can see an increase in demand for medical care and support. We urgently need to upskill the current frontline workers, increase medical staff capacity through more training programs, and expand knowledge-sharing across all parts of the country to create more healthcare professionals.

The Foundation has increased enrollment across our eight SMART centers and four healthcare academies to reduce this skill gap. These centers and academies provide well-equipped laboratories run by highly qualified professionals and on-the-job training via leading hospitals.

Since 2020, we have trained over 2100 youth within the healthcare space and more than 1800 youth are under training.  We have upskilled more than 1300 nurses with extensive training sessions on ventilator use. Through our COVID Swayam Suraksha training program, we have trained and helped social workers with personal protection equipment, and extended capacity of more than 1000 workers.  

In response to the global pandemic, we also conceptualized and started a course on Hospital Hygiene Assistant and trained close to 600 candidates.


Helping Our Most Vulnerable Communities Survive

The first wave only served as a preparation for the more difficult challenges that lay ahead, and we accepted this responsibility with open arms. The second wave mercilessly uprooted the lives of many of our communities, including daily wagers, farmers, Adivasi groups, transgender people, people with disabilities, migrant workers. We immediately got to work, broadening our support and policies to include COVID relief to support communities in emergency and rehabilitation.

Since then have been guided by our COVID relief goal: “To direct the support towards the most vulnerable population segments in the quickest possible time.”

Our extensive volunteer work on the ground ensured:

  • Over seven lakh people received dry ration kits to support themselves and their families suffering from any financial crisis
  • Almost four lakh cooked meals were served to migrant workers, daily wagers, and others
  • Over sixty-one thousand PPE Kits were distributed to frontline workers, and over eight lakh masks have been distributed to underdeveloped, rural communities to control the spread of infection

Ensuring Education Never Stops for a Brighter Tomorrow

Amidst these devastations, we continue to see hope in tomorrow. We have always believed in ‘Empowering through Education’. We continue to focus on employability to train and educate the youth on key skills. We have extended support to government schools across vulnerable parts of the country to equip them to provide better teaching experiences even amidst this crisis.

We have increased the digital literacy of over 1600 government school teachers from Uttarakhand, Delhi, Maharashtra, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh. Throughout this pandemic, our teacher capacity-building program worked with teacher educators and government schools to help them develop  curriculum content for online teaching and learning.

Tech Mahindra has even shared over a thousand laptops, tablets, desktops with beneficiaries to make the online learning experience available to them.

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Seeing Ability in Disability through Uninterrupted Learning

On the same note, our effort to help children and  youth living with disabilities has not stopped. We aim to keep providing access to technologies and tools that help them learn seamlessly in a remote environment.

Our two programs, ARISE+ and SMART+, have been implemented through our NGO partners to help this community be independent and live with dignity.  The curriculum has been to cater to different types of disabilities, such as visual impairment, hearing impairment, and orthopedically challenged.

Increasing Mental Health Awareness and Safety

The rising number of cases of mental health issues amongst children and  youth has been alarming. We partnered with Fortis School of Mental Health and Macmillan India to train over 500 government school teams to help them identify psychological issues among students to protect their well-being and raise mental health awareness.

In association with Tech Mahindra’s Maker’s Lab, we have launched a platform called "Mind@Ease" that provides counselling services with a focus on mental health, wellness, well-being, and more.


Providing Relief to over 23 lakh People across 16 States in India

Our Tech Mahindra volunteers have devoted 14,080 hours to COVID Relief and ongoing volunteering drives. In certain instances, these volunteers have travelled over 700 km to extend their support to communities. With the second wave, there were 200 volunteers in action at different COVID helpdesks to verify and disseminate information to those who needed it urgently.

Our efforts through 483 COVID relief initiatives have impacted over 23 lakh people across 16 states in the country. It is both inspiring and humbling to share the results of our projects on the ground thus, and this is just a testimony to the sheer will and determination of our team and volunteers.  We have realized that our collective response to this pandemic must be equitable. We will continue to RISE together and work at an exceptional scale and speed to mitigate the disparities on the ground.

About the Author
Rakesh Soni
CEO, Tech Mahindra Foundation