CHINAR International serving humanity

An exclusive interview with CEO Chinar International Irfan Shahmiri

Child Nurture And Relief (CHINAR) International is a Prominent NGO of Kashmir,and a name to reckon with when it comes to helping humanity. It is focused on empowerment of “Orphans, Vulnerable Children & Marginalized Youth” in conflict areas through Education and Socioeconomic Initiatives.
In the wake of the recent outbreak of Coronavirus
across the globe, Chinar International launched a COVID-19 Relief
Program in Kashmir. This program has four focus areas – awareness, emergency relief, helpline service and education.
In an exclusive interview with The News Kashmir Magazine, Irfan Shahmiri, CEO Chinar talks to Rameez Makhdoomi and Farzana Mumtaz.

How difficult has been it working in Covid pandemic situation?
It was a challenging situation.
We are used to lockdowns, shutdown in Kashmir. The Coronavirus was unknown thing as we didn’t know what COVID is . The positive this time was that internet was working and when lockdown happened we went into crisis mode and held meetings. We accordingly devised a protocol, strategy and programmes to work during this crisis.

What have been main programmes conducted by Chinar International for masses during these months?

We understood that daily wagers, laborers would be badly hit thus food would become a big issue and secondly people did not known what Coronavirus was. Thirdly it would impact education.
First thing we did was that we ran awareness as we tapped information from online mediums and launched the awareness through different mediums like Social media. We put a helpline so that needy can connect us in case of needing food relief and complete process was formed so that relief in form of emergency kits reaches deserving. We have in partnership with District administration and other NGOs distributed more than 3100 food kits in many districts of Jammu and Kashmir . Our food kits caters to needs of family of five for one month.

How did you ensure that your volunteers safety during relief distribution?
It is a very good question. Once we understood the nature of disease it became clear that social distance and safety measures for our staff and volunteers is a must.We provided proper PPPe and followed complete safety protocol and with the grace of almighty it is going so far smoothly .
We have been very much pragmatic in dealing with the current crisis. Immediately after the first
case was reported, we focused on spreading awareness about the disease
in order to stop individual and community spread. Safety of the staff
was a major concern so we arranged PPE’s and developed protocols to
work on the ground. Soon after, we carried out relief operations, with a
focus on families who needed immediate support to sustain themselves
during these testing times.

You have also created awareness programmes on coping with mental stress. A bit on that?

We wanted to reach masses and knowing the internet connectivity is a road block in Kashmir so we used conference bridge wherein people can just dial over about there mental issues. We have organized global mental health town hall for the people who are fighting this disease and have been directly or indirectly impacted . We are talking on diverse issues and have conducted sessions by well known mental health experts and Doctors of globe .

How far have your main programmes being of working on education of vulnerable children hit due to Coronavirus?

The big part of impact due to Coronavirus pandemic is felt on education. We know due to Social distancing we have to think out of box. We could not have community learning center due to Coronavirus. We did a survey and found that some students had access to smart phone , some to normal phones and some did not have . We devised study packages according to the infra availability of students.We used online application for creating virtual classrooms for students and also provides stationary kits.

What is your message?
My message would be people should listen to health experts. They should wear masks and follow Social Distancing. Wash hands regularly and avoid going to public places.