Faith For Life
Amanat Foundation Trust (AFT) organized an advocacy and awareness program to combat COVID-19 pandemic in three districts of West Bengal with the support of UNICEF under the project titled Faith for Life – Collaboration with Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs). Under this project, the engagement of faith leaders with local communities was projected in order to find appropriate COVID-19 responses. Simultaneously, coordination with Government and NGO actors for advocacy partnerships were developed in the state’s rural and urban areas.
As religious preachers and faith leaders are connected with the larger population segment of diverse communities, the role and potential for the action of faith leaders has been identified by Amanat as having immense potential. From the Gram Panchayat level to Blocks to Wards and Municipalities, in towns and cities, faith leaders have an apex position where community life is concerned. At such a stage, they also enjoy national and international recognition and reverence, therefore the power to influence a variety of networks to advance best practices regarding COVID-19 amid the cloud of misinformation and panic. Not only are faith leaders involved in the provision of social services such as education, health, and socio-economic support to the vulnerable but they are also particularly effective in advocating nutritional and healthcare benefits to mothers and children, namely, in RMNCHA practices. As UNICEF partner organization, AFT strives to include the protection of children and the safeguarding of their rights in all its endeavours. The same has been attempted in this project through information dissemination – both physical and digital, conforming to COVID-19 safety norms.
AFT has been working in health programmes since 2003 when it embarked upon the Polio Erdaication initiative hence playing a pivotal role in getting the state rid of the ‘worst affected’ category. It had made unique approaches with the introduction of health fairs and statewide health rallies in order to educate communities on the hazards of Polio. Currently, Amanat has continued its unique approach and introduced the role of faith leaders in motivating locals under the SBCC model, to amplify following the right sources of information relating to COVID-19 in both rural and urban areas.
Faith For Life project focused in its initial phase in promoting the urgency of social distancing, personal hygiene, respiratory etiquettes, mask usage, caring for the most vulnerable, reducing stigma and discrimination around infected patients.