COVID 19 Emergency Response: Invisible Communities

by Paper Boat in Cowley, England, United Kingdom

COVID 19 Emergency Response: Invisible Communities
We did it
On 13th July 2020 we successfully raised £513 with 19 supporters in 42 days

Responding to the immediate needs of children and communities who are amongst the most vulnerable in Tamil Nadu, India.

by Paper Boat in Cowley, England, United Kingdom

Paper Boat is urgently seeking funding to respond to the immediate needs of communities who are amongst the most vulnerable in Tamil Nadu, India. Children from ‘invisible’ communities like the Koravar experience high levels of socio-economic exclusion, frequently face systemic abuse and human rights violations, and are often excluded from Government emergency response programmes. With your support our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency Response can provide essential food supplies, vital sanitation/hygiene products, and creative home learning materials to support children’s mental health and educational needs.

Lockdown without a safety net

•In Tamil Nadu, Government aid for families is dependent on possession of identity cards, which many who are forced to live on the margins do not have. Furthermore, around 10% of families in the communities we work with also have no means of access to basic dry rations. Families that have received provisions have been unable to cope on £12 for three months, and poor-quality food that lacks nutrition leaves children vulnerable to common infections.

•Job losses and lockdown restrictions are forcing below poverty line families reliant on low-paid often informal labour to face the choice between breaking restrictions to engage in dangerous income generating strategies or remaining at home without any means to obtain the food and basic items needed to support their families. They face potential violent repercussions as well as increased risk of exposure to the virus. 

•Field staff have received reports of new instances of child labour in “secret” match factories in rural communities. As young people are being forced to support their families following job losses. Children are losing their childhoods and being pushed into work. 

Our Emergency Response

Deliver 1000 relief packages (costing £18 each) as part of an immediate humanitarian response - containing essential food items including 5kg rice, 1kg wheat flour and 1kg chickpea flour plus vital nutritional supplements and hygiene and sanitary products. For children this will also include a home learning kit containing materials and a manual for creative expression and problem-solving activities support the education and mental health of those without access to school or alternative learning pathways.

Our partners have identified 700 children in immediate need of support who were attending our Children's Hubs pre-lockdown, and a further 300 vulnerable adults, disabled young people and at risk families within these communities.


£18000 is needed to deliver relief packages meeting the immediate needs of 1000 households at the margins, and we aim to raise £6,000 through this appeal. Alongside this Paper Boat are investing £2000 to build digital capabilities for long-term sustainability.

We have committed £6000 of our own unrestricted funds towards this appeal so far and hope to gain the rest from grant-giving organisations.  Anything raised beyond this target will go towards further efforts to respond to the needs of marginalised communities and advocate for the rights of those most affected by this crisis.

Your support will be vital in reaching invisible and silenced communities worst affected by the lockdown in India and supporting them through this crisis–thank you.

Who we help...

Invisible Communities and Silenced Voices

Kora1590748797_koravar_communities_%232.jpgvar tribal communities have been labelled as a ‘criminal caste’ – a phenomenon with its roots in the colonial administration of India – the community is widely seen as ‘criminal or deviant from birth’. Adults are vulnerable to false imprisonment and systematic police abuse; children are labelled deviant in school and experience substantial pressure to drop out.

Dalit (former ‘untouchable’) communities – children experience what is often referred to as a ‘wounded psyche’. Having been told from birth that they are ‘impure, unclean and inferior’ owing to their subordinate position in the stratification system (falling outside the accepted ‘caste system’). Too often they are uncounted and unheard. 

1590750116_kovilpatti_communities_smaller.jpgCommunities vulnerable to child and bonded labour – a form of modern slavery which occurs when a person is forced to pay off a debt, often tricked into working for little or no pay and with no control over their debt. Bonded labour has been common in many industries including silk looms and brick kiln and child labour is particularly prevalent in match producing regions of Tamil Nadu. 

What we do (beyond COVID 19)...

Sailing towards a world that unlocks the infinite potential of every child…

Launching as Paper Boat in 2020 but drawing on a rich legacy of supporting education and skills development in India for more than 50 years – we see our purpose as inspiring and enabling children to change their world. Currently closed due to lockdown restrictions, but remaining at the core of how we work, are child-centred and community owned creative learning spaces called Children’s Hubs that equip young people with the skills, experience and personal qualities needed for creative problem solving and leading transformative change in their communities. Our Children’s Hubs utilize a variety of creative learning approaches (including art, film making, photography, sculpture, drama, youth journalism and story -telling) to equip vulnerable children with the three most important skills for the 21st Century – Creativity, Critical Thinking and Complex Problem Solving.


"Paper Boats" by Rabindranath Tagore

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