“Coronano kebel khwlainakhai
tikka nathini saktharthai
Covid-19 koporopmungbai ta manjakdi
tikka nawi sak tai buinobo mwthangdi”
(“CoronaVirus will only weaken,
If vaccines are widely taken,
Get the vaccine before the virus smothers,
The jab will protect you and others”)
These lines echoed through the air as Adivasi Lives Matter (ALM), along with Youth For Integration Trust (YFI), hit the rural streets of Tripura to raise awareness about the importance of getting the Covid-19 vaccines. The members and volunteers have been travelling to different parts of the state with projectors and loudspeakers to spread the message to as many people as possible. The team is spreading awareness among villagers stating that the vaccines are our only protection against dying from the virus.
In the past it has been reported that many indigenous people living in rural areas were unwilling to get the vaccines for fear of falling sick. That and many other rumours were floating around. In order to dispel the myths surrounding vaccinations and to get people to health camps, volunteers have come up with slogans and videos to promote vaccination. The videos in which the myths are dispelled in the local languages are shown to villagers using a projector.
Other than spreading awareness, the travelling van carrying the said projector and loudspeaker is also distributing medicines and masks to the people. Earlier, ALM and YFI with the support of ResponseNet had distributed food kits to 2,000 families.
This awareness tour has been conducted for two days so far. On July 3, the van went to the Hathai Kotor area and on July 4, it went to Ramanagar Super Market under Charilam Block. The team left for Gabordi today morning in the pouring rain.
Hathai Kotor: On July 3, the awareness team composed of Sento Debbarma, Gobin Debbarma, Jaybrata Sinha, and Tuhin Debbarma, gathered the villagers and showed them an educational video on the benefits of vaccination. All villagers were provided masks so they could attend the programme. People of all ages attended. Some of the villagers said that they have not been taking the vaccines as they are not aware of health camps where they are available. ALM and YFI distributed 100 masks and medicine kits at this village.
Charilam: On July 4, the team visited Charilam RD Block which is about 26 km from Agartala. The site of the camp was the Ramnagar Super Market. Many villagers attended the camp and agreed to take the vaccination whenever it became available in their area. Once again the team showed myth-busting videos, gave a talk on the benefits of vaccines and answered queries. Medicinal kits, sanitizers, and masks were also distributed. The team that made this camp possible composed of Sento Debbarma, Jaybrata Sinha, Gobin Debbarma, Tuhin Debbarma, Lalhraitluanya Reang, and Sukumar Debbarma.
The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the tribals of Tripura very hard. Many have lost their sources of income and many more have fallen sick. However, as people avoid visiting hospitals, the cases are massively underrepresented. As such, the only way people can step out of the current crisis is by taking the vaccine.
About the Author: Gobin Debbarma is an actor, singer and journalist from Tripura. He is also an Adivasi Awaaz creator and one of the volunteers who is taking part in the awareness campaign.