News Helping Vulnerable Communities During a Crisis

Helping Vulnerable Communities During a Crisis

2020 Mar 24


You cannot turn your head without the mention of the infamous virus that has penetrated borders and left people in a state of panic, quarantine and curfews. Nearly everyone will be affected in some way by the pandemic,— by stress and anxiety from quarantine, the collapse of the economy,  or the illness itself. The disease can be deadly, and the outbreak is likely to continue to get worse if we do not flatten the curve and be vigilant.

In crises and humanitarian emergencies, the risk is always disproportionately served to a population. Women, children, elderly people, LGBTIQ community, people who are ill or immuno-compromised, daily wage earners and those employed in the informal sector and low income workers are particularly vulnerable when disaster strikes and take a relatively high share of the disease burden associated with emergencies. 

Many low-income individuals and families face significant challenges and lack disposable income, flexible work schedules, and the ability to do paid work from home. 

What can we do as a community to help those in need during such troubled times? Read on for more details.

The Elderly 

People who are over the age of 60 are at a higher risk, according to data collected by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

  • Next time there’s an elderly person standing in-line with you, offer to switch your spot for his/hers. 
  • If you see them struggling in a supermarket (maybe pushing a cart or reaching out for food) be sure to help them any way you can. 
  • If you know of an elderly neighbour, or a family friend whose short on a stock and unable to head outside – do the grocery shopping for them. 
  • Know of an elder who’s been self-isolating way before the outbreak? Many elders live alone with absolutely no visitors due to various reasons (death of a spouse, no children, or simply because the children have migrated). Since you basically know the feeling of social distancing and how hard it can be, call-up an elder or even someone who might be feeling alone and keep them company for some time. 
  • As a shop owner – be vigilant towards those in need of special care like an elderly person. It could be through special lines for the elderly or home delivery options once curfew is lifted.

The Homeless and Financially Marginalized

There are many daily wage workers who are in need and unable to provide for their families amidst this crisis. Be mindful of those near your neighbourhood. It could be a family tuk-driver, a maid, or even the thambili-kadana uncle. Always reach out and help within your capacity.

  • If you know anyone who needs dry rations, and if you are in a position to share some of your own or purchase a few extra stocks – please do.
  • Share meals with those who aren’t in a position to make ends meet within your neighbourhood
  • Spare some money to those families who may be in dire need of it.
  • If you’re interested in donating towards such a cause, the following organization’s undertake projects to serve those in need during these hard times.

International and local organisations alongside the government are struggling to identify best practices for controlling the spread of COVID-19 while minimizing the negative effects of sweeping public health interventions, especially for poor and marginalized communities, which may be hit the hardest. 

Here are some other practical solutions you can adopt to help other communities as well! 

People who have underlying health conditions are more likely to get sick.

Individuals with high blood pressure, asthma, kidney disease, cancer, or diabetes are extremely vulnerable and more likely to get very sick or die and must stay away from crowds and public spaces. Make sure to check on your family and friend’s and assist them whenever possible.


Be there for one and other- show off that Sri Lankan warmth we are famous for!

In the digital era it is super easy to stay connected and  you can easily be there for your friends and loved ones during times of crisis with Netflix parties , Skype or Whatsapp.

However, these curfews are experienced differently in each household. Some people are using this time to catch up on things and expand their horizons, but for some people, it could be a nightmare. If you are missing your weekly therapist or just feeling like everything is crashing down you are not alone.

You can contact the Ohana project ( or Samuthana ( as most of these places offer over the phone/online assistance which can be quite a saviour during these pandemic times. 

Shop responsibly and keep in mind the rest of the island especially marginalized groups who do not have access or money to bulk buy or purchase what they need.

These tight curfews have made the public awry and has launched a panic buying wave. If you buy up all the sanitizer, wet wipes and Dettol how exactly are the rest of us going to stay clean so as to not spread the germs to you? You do not need to empty the shelves but simply buy enough essentials to keep you and your family afloat for a couple of weeks. Please keep in mind the people who can not afford to bulk buy and stock up. Also, resources are scarce during such a surge so buy sparingly. Diapers are needed by all – please do not stock up. Communities at risk are suffering as we speak as they do not and can not keep up with the effects of the disaster.

Little acts of kindness go along way! Let’s try to help out those in need to the best of our ability amidst this crisis.


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