Let’s meet Prasad
Today let’s meet our one more team member, Prasad Panchal who is aBachelor in English Literature from Shivaji University Kolhapur and Master of Social Work from Karnataka State Open University. He has also completed his MBA in Human Resource from Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research, Mumbai. Let’s have a small conversation with our Mumbai Smiles family member.
How did you come across Mumbai Smiles and decide to become part of the organization?
My colleague from my old workplace was already working in the Mumbai Smiles Foundation in the Mmitra project. He referred me for the Field coordinator position for the same project. However, prior to this job I had an experience of the community children as a counsellor for TB project, Life Skills and Tobacco control. I was always interested in Human Rights, Life Skills and Child Development Education. Therefore, on considering my experience in advocacy, after the interviews I was hired as a Field Coordinator for Jump2Justice project in 2016.
Tell us about your different responsibilities that you were handling during your journey with Mumbai Smiles.
I would say that it’s one of the challenging projects of my life. I really enjoy every challenge that I come across as it keeps me on toes and I learn new things at every step of my journey.
We focus on the street children and the Victims of Human Trafficking and work for their Human Rights. Therefore, our beneficiaries are not only children and their families but also our teachers, parents and the community people. We have also worked in the rural areas such as Shahapur for the Human Rights of the Victims of Human Trafficking.
Through our sessions we ensure that all our beneficiaries are aware about their basic and Fundamental human rights. To achieve our mission we take help and guidance of advocates and the judicial personalise wherever and whenever it is necessary.
How is Covid-19 affecting the community?
The COVID-19 outbreak has affected all segments of the population and is particularly detrimental to members of those social groups who belong to the most vulnerable communities such as our Street Children and their families. On one hand homeless people and street dwellers are highly exposed to the danger of the virus. On the other hand, people without access to running water, migrants are also suffering both from the pandemic and its aftermath.
How will this current situation affect the future of most children we work with and how is Mumbai Smiles contributing to the current situation?
In the current Covid-19 situation, the biggest impact has been on street children and their families. Because the livelihood of all of them depends on the income of one person in the household, and these people even work as a day labourers. They are daily wagers, they pick up street garbage, clean the gutters, beg on the roadside for a little money at the end of the day.
After the Lockdown all the places were closed and the big question of their livelihood and survival arose before them, the children had to be deprived of their rights. Children need food, clothing, and adequate living space. It was difficult to see how to overcome all these conditions and the overall development of the children.
Victims of Human Trafficking have suffered a lot and still facing the consequences of the pandemic. Due to the lockdown no one was allowed to step out from their homes therefore, all the sources of earning were frizzed. The brothel owners have asked all the families to leave the places as they haven’t been able to pay the rent.
In this situation our beneficiaries were not only facing the problems for basic necessities but also facing the mental health issues.
As soon as the lockdown was announced, Mumbai Smiles Foundation started distributing food grains and sanitization products to all our beneficiaries. Also, Jump 2 Justice team was working with other teams to support our beneficiaries who were facing Human and Basic Rights violation problems being in regular contact through phone calls.