"Corona can kill us only when we will be alive," grieves Basheer Ahmed, a daily-wage labourer who lost his job due to the nationwide lockdown in the country and is struggling to manage two-time meals for his family.
“Hunger will kill us first, forget coronavirus. I used to earn on a daily basis and somehow managed to feed my two daughters with whatever I could manage with the small amount of money I would earn. But that income is gone now. Whatever I had saved is also finished. Today I am left with nothing. There is no work, no food,” he said.
Like Ahmed, several daily-wagers working at construction sites, retail outlets, restaurants, food and their hyperlocal delivery partners and local transport systems have lost their livelihood because of the shutdown in the country till April 14, taken as a precautionary measure against the spread of the pandemic Covid – 19.
The fight against hunger
Even though the central and state governments have rolled out various measures to ensure no one in the country sleeps empty stomach, looking at the dense population in a country like India, it becomes a Herculean task to achieve.
In such a crisis situation, various private players and non-profitable organisations have also taken initiative and are providing meals and raising funds to the people in distress.
Zomato has initiated a project called the ‘Feed the Daily Wager’ to raise funds to provide food support to families who used to survive on daily wages and help them have a reliable supply of meals in the absence of employment opportunities.
“We are fundraising to enable the purchase of essentials such as atta, dal and chawal for slums and migrant labours. Along with partner NGOs, we will formulate the responsible delivery of these essentials to those in need,” said the company spokesperson.
According to the figures available on their website, Rs 14,92,97,971 of Rs 50 crore goal have been raised. You can also donate and choose to support one family (Rs 500), three families (Rs 1,500), five families (Rs 2,500) or any amount by logging on at https://www.feedingindia.org/donate.
“Youth Feed India” is another such initiative with the mission of #HelpTheHungry. It was started by Shaaz Mehmood (Hyderabad), Tanya Mallavarapu Reddy (Chennai) and Deepti Katragadda Reddy (Bangalore) few days back and has raised Rs 75 lakh funds in the first phase.
The project aims to “ensure that the Indian daily wage worker, migrant laborer, and single mothers who are out of work due to the lockdown are provided basic food to survive this challenging period”.
The movement till now has touched over 20,000 underprivileged Indians and aims to help over 40,000 more. Each care package that they put together costs around Rs 500 to feed a family for nearly a week.
Donate today for distribution in Hyderabad, Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai through logging on at www.ketto.org/fundraiser/SAFAforCorona or https://pages.razorpay.com/Covid19Relief or through direct account payment.
“This is our youth generation’s World War 3 and we play a role to create responsible action to support government initiatives. Every community should have a Youth Feed India programme. Solving the starvation problem is in our hands,” said Mehmood.
Rasoi On Wheels Foundation, which is a mobile kitchen service started three years back, is providing healthy, nutritious, tasty, wholesome and hygienic packed meal boxes to the “less privileged” people during these testing times. They are also distributing packed atta, rice, dal and oil to needy families in Delhi.
The organisation was earlier providing around 2,500-3,000 food packets which has now been increased to almost 10,000 boxes, being distributed in Delhi and NCR, said Atul Kapur, founder of the foundation.
You can also donate to the cause. The cost of one meal is Rs 31, so you can donate for as many as you want. Log on to their website rasoionwheels.com or pay through Paytm on 9811982272/9811015420. You can also transfer the amount directly to their bank account.
Another pan-India voluntary group called Caremongers India is also raising funds, especially for the elderly population. As people above 60 years are more vulnerable and are easy targets for the virus to get infected it, special care has to be given to the elderly people apart from keeping them indoor and maintain social distancing.
If you are (or know) a citizen in need, you can register to their Pan-India Citizen database at https://forms.gle/5gsWUH7pUS8GTsiYA. All details will be maintained with the strictest confidentiality. Their volunteers will be in touch with you regularly to ensure that your needs are met.
If you’d like to volunteer, fill in your details at https://forms.gle/UPsZP2hxTkGDNqLP8.
They face a social stigma and are usually shunned by society, yet, transgenders in Bareilly and Prayagraj are coming forward to provide food and water to migrant labourers who are returning home after the lockdown.
About 50 transgenders in Bareilly are providing food to 100 people every day.
“There are several families who are daily wage workers and they depend on daily earning for food. We are serving food to them because we feel that serving humanity is the best service,” said Prema, a transgender.
She said that her group of friends, about 50, plan to start a community kitchen to provide hot cooked food, but are waiting for necessary permission from the local administration.
“At present, we are giving biscuits and fruits to the people,” she said.
In Prayagraj, another group of about 30 transgenders are serving food and water bottles to travellers and also the homeless.
“We have stationed ourselves near the temples because most of the homeless and migrants come here for relief. We are using our savings to help people caught in the lockdown,” said Ishwari, a transgender.
Rajesh Kumar, a migrant labourer, who was provided food by the group on Sunday, said, “We always ridicule these people but today, they have been my saviour. After going without food for almost 70 hours, they gave me food and water.”
Rajesh has travelled on foot from Meerut, where he works in a biscuit factory, to Prayagraj and is on his way to his village in Varanasi.
Ishwari and her group said that they were also educating people about the COVID-19 and were taking all precautions and following the guidelines of the district administration. (IANS)