Vaccine hesitancy has been present in many communities around the world. For Terre des Hommes Netherlands, the COVID-19 pandemic has been an additional problem in taking children out of exploitation. Therefore, vaccinating children’s communities has also been a focus of organisations in India.
In the Warangal District of Telangana State, a partner organisation of Terre des Hommes Netherlands worked with local communities to spread awareness about the importance of getting vaccinated. The Children of India Foundation had been operating in Telangana State to stop physical abuse, sexual abuse, trafficking, and prostitution of children. Along with TdH NL, they feared that further poverty that the virus would cause would contribute to more child exploitation. Between July and August 2021, their task was to encourage the vaccination of a local village of 190 people as their fear of the vaccines’ side effects persisted.
Kanakamma, one of the tribal women, was initially reluctant to believe the volunteers from the Children of India Foundation. However, she was inspired by the stories shared by the volunteers and took the vaccine. Once she was vaccinated and found no side effects, she planned to motivate others in the community. Along with the volunteers, they approached the District Medical Officer and the District Magistrate, and explained to them about the issue and requested them to arrange a special vaccination camp in the village.
In addition, Kanakamma and the volunteers visited homes door-to-door, developed posters and banners, and encouraged people to get vaccinated. The Government health department also organised the camp and with the team’s efforts and Kanakamma’s leadership in the village, the village’s adult population is now 100% vaccinated.
“I feel very happy that I brought a great change to my village”, said Kanakamma.
Due to effective outreach and awareness, the entire community got vaccinated and the children and their families were protected from the virus. The tremendous effort of Kanakamma, a tribal leader, and with support from the volunteers and frontline health workers highlights the value of joint action and community driven empowerment.