Work is progressing as usual at the same pace. Changes are some people have started going for work and some have left. Many are still there without work. We are distributing milk coupons for young kids and pregnant women. Also rations for everyone. Daily about 100 to 200 families. That’s between Rs.30,000 and Rs.60,000 per day plus milk, which is a few thousands of rupees per day. We continue to verify.
For small groups in distress located far away, we do some diligence and tie up with a local kirana store and ask them to pick up rations and we pay them online. Some of these groups keep calling. After two or three such transfers, we usually stop. We really don’t know if this is the right thing to do.
Three new developments:
We have started supporting migrants walking on highways. The local district administration has also sent out appeals to NGOs (yes there are conflicting media reports, but am talking of our areas – Indore, and the Highway between Penukondaand Gutti – NH 44 that connects Kanyakumari to Varanasi and beyond). Thousands are walking on the highway and have nothing with them. Here they tend to be men – very few families walking here. They are mostly from North India who came to Bangalore and nearby areas for work. Trekking back several hundreds of kilometres.
We have started distributing water and rations to them. There are many road-side eateries/ dhabas on the highway – we will use their services. Also, local farmers in Anantapur are coming forward and providing fruits from their farms (marketing is a problem for them now).
We have started supporting the work in Bundelkhand at the junction of UP and MP. Lots of migrants have somehow got back there. All these are through CCD and Farmveda staff and a few other volunteers except Bundelkhand where we are working with an old and trusted NGO called Parmarth SamajSeva. – we have worked with them for over 10 years.
We are exploring helping those who want to return back home several hundreds of kilometres away. They need a bus, train, truck or whatever. But we don’t have the bandwidth or capability for doing that. It’s not funds -it’s the enormous procedures involved and days of delay. For those without money and food, each day is a challenge. Other NGOs we are in touch with are trying to do that.
Education of kids is badly affected – in the slums we see young kids. When we ask them “Raja na, maja na?” (In Kannada raja – the first ‘a’ is short - means holiday, and majameans fun like in Hindi). The kids all say “maja” with a big smile. Government and local schools are closed. The helpers and assistants in these private small schools are jobless. Most maid servants are jobless. Some of the construction workers continue to be jobless.
We are a bit in the dark about the larger picture on migrants, future work and income, food situation and so on. Particularly when they reach back home in the rural areas – what will they do? We are monitoring as best as we can, as well as looking at the various big announcements from the Government. If and when they are rolled out, there will be a big time lag and gaps in the field.
Ps. The reverse connection of supplying mangoes directly to consumers in their apartments from our farmers in Chittoor has picked up a lot of steam. We have sold several truck loads and the farmers there are getting a good return. We hope to build this into a more permanent thing. Hopefully it will marginally reduce distress migration from rural to urban if we can spread some prosperity there. We hope to start with other grocery items like dal and rice as we get our act together. The mangoes are delicious, natural and ripened slowly without any chemicals.
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