Persistent challenges remain for thousands of migrant workers whose lives were upended by the lockdown across the country, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Lacking jobs and money, and with public transportation shut down, they were forced to return back to their home villages.
AIF’s LAMP program works in rural India with communities that are affected by distress seasonal migration. In Kutupara village, Nuapada, Odisha, some members of the community tried to force a medical examination on two migrant workers, who had returned to their village. Fearing social backlash and anxious about the high costs of medical testing, these two migrants fled into the nearby jungle and stayed there for a couple of days. It was only after an assurance from the community leaders, that they returned.
The announcement of a lockdown came at a time when sugarcane cutting, in Bardoli, Gujarat was at its peak and a large number of migrants from Dang were working there. Lockdown resulted in villages being cordoned off, leaving migrant workers isolated. This was also one of the reasons for Koyatas (sugarcane cutters) to head home, without collecting their earnings.
In Dang, the resident Additional Collector sent a request for urgent supplies to reach the neediest families from the migrant community. The AIF field team worked closely with the Surat Rotary Club to facilitate dry ration kits. A couple of local philanthropists, Dr. Arvind Patel, Bardoli and Parthesh Pandya, Ahmedabad through Jan Kalyan Trust and Swapath, also lent their support to the activity. Three hundred families from LAMP intervention villages of Nishana, Kakshala, Dhamala, and Shinganmal in Subir, Dang were grateful to receive support.
AIF Supporter Anu Chitrapu writes about her moving experience with Dang migrant workers in the India New England news here.
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