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Employees of RICOH group supported children to continue their education under crisis [India]

Freewill, RICOH’s Social Contribution Club comprises of employees of the corporate group of RICOH. Freewill kindly donated funds to support 32 schoolchildren who lost their parents due to COVID-19 in Varanasi, India.

Varanasi, a major city in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), is a sacred place for Hindus where a number of temples and related structures are located. Varanasi has seen a steady flow of people to the city, and during the COVID-19 pandemic more than 23,494 people died as a result.

SEEDS Asia was involved in Varanasi, particularly in partnering with five Climate Schools* to promote climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction education initiatives. Among them, Sant Atulanand Convent School revealed that they had the highest number of students in need. This was because many of their parents were engaged in essential services work and were exposed to COVID risk. 32 students out of a total of 3,600 had lost their main breadwinner and were at risk of dropping out.

In these schools, textbooks are usually not provided, and social security or scholarships are not commonly available for students. Thus, if they are unable to support themselves to purchase books and uniforms, they have no choice but to leave the school. The loss of a breadwinner is therefore a significant impact to the families, and this also affects their children in the long term, because once they drop out, the possibility of them going back to school is very slim.

However, the 32 students were able to remain in the school and go on to the next grade, thanks to the donation by Freewill. The fund enabled continued learning of those students, which also meant that they learnt lessons on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction education. We sincerely thank the people of Freewill for this positive change brought about by their kind contribution.

*  “Climate Schools” are designated five schools located in Varanasi city, which installed automated weather stations and air quality observation equipment on campus. These devices were utilized for the conduct of disaster reduction and climate change adaptation education as well as for information dissemination to the local community. They partnered with SEEDS Asia from 2015, and have participated in various training and practical education sessions as a part of the project.