John Deere employees in India are understandably concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly when it comes to the health and well-being of their families, friends, and communities.
Uncertainty, however, isn’t stopping their mission to help those in need.
“During the national lockdown in India, we’ve addressed food security, provided vital hygiene materials to local primary health centers, and are matching employee donations to ensure hospitals receive personal protective equipment (PPE) and other vital supplies,” said Arun Pandey, citizenship program director for India and Asia. “We take our commitment to the communities in which we live and work very seriously.”
The initial relief effort focused on food insecure areas in four cities – Pune, Dewas, Sirhind, and Nagpur – where Deere has factories or offices. In those areas, Deere provided financial support and guidance to help with the distribution of dry food packets containing rice, flour, cooking oil, spices, and tea. The packages, which were delivered with help from the Centre for Advanced Research & Development (CARD), a non-governmental organization, included soap and handwash, too.
“I helped distribute relief kits to five villages near our factory, and it was an emotional experience for me,” said Ramakant Mishra, manager at John Deere Sirhind Works. “People were very thankful for the assistance. In fact, many of them were so touched that they blessed me for a long and healthy life, and they prayed for Deere as well.”
The Indian government recently passed a $22.6 billion (U.S.) stimulus plan to help economically disadvantaged communities and plans to feed nearly 800 million of its poorest citizens over the next three months. In the meantime, emergency food supplies delivered by Deere are playing a vital role in hunger relief efforts.
“We determined early on that these packets were the best way to help community members sustain themselves and their families during the lockdown period,” Pandey said. “Every recipient is a daily wage earner or landless laborer who depends on daily earnings for survival.
“In addition, we’re working with two local John Deere dealers to supply hygiene materials including hand sanitizer, face masks, gloves, and handwash to primary health facilities.”
The second phase of the initiative is a partnership with United Way of Mumbai to support three hospitals with personal protective equipment (PPE) and other important healthcare supplies.
“I am proud that our employees regularly demonstrate the strength of our communities and their own humanity; giving of themselves to ensure the needs of others are also met,” said Kim Goodley, Global Employee Volunteerism director, of the efforts. “There is no doubt our employees live our higher purpose every day, but during these unprecedented times, we are reassured that we will get through this crisis together.”