The nation-wide lockdown following the Coronavirus pandemic has led to millions of migrant labourers being jobless and homeless.
Although state governments have stepped up efforts to help these marginalised communities, civilian population is also trying to help in their own way.
One such group is the IIM Women for Social Action group that has a strength of 176 women hailing from across India and abroad. The group has already transported over thousand migrants to their home, and provided 199 families with food and financial assistance. They have also gone a step ahead to distribute 25,000 masks to the needy, and are supporting a community kitchen in Mumbai’s Dharavi - Asia’s largest slum.
It all started in mid-March, right after the nationwide lockdown was imposed. Deepa Krishna, an alumna of IIM Calcutta found out about several workers who had lost their jobs, and had no income to feed themselves.
Deepa, who is the founder of Magic Tours that helps the destitute gain employment in the travel industry, decided to take action to help. She reached out to members of the IIM WhatsApp group living in Mumbai to enquire about any community kitchen initiatives that could help these workers. At that point, there were hardly any, and hence she took it upon herself to start this initiative, with the financial support of several members of the group.
Since its inception on March 29, 2020, the community kitchen has served over 2,500 meals to the needy in Dharavi, funded entirely by the IIM-women. The group has also collaborated with social organisations like Abhyudaya Community Initiatives and StoneSoup, to help source masks and provide employment to women.
Supporting Sonu Sood
Recently, some women from the group reached out to Bollywood actor Sonu Sood, who has been working tirelessly for migrant workers reach their native villages during this crisis. Within days, a 10-member team of women from the group was formed, and a fundraising page was set up on crowdfunding platform Milaap.
Since May 11, the group has raised Rs 59 lakh to ensure migrant labourers reach their homes. While the target was to reach Rs 50 lakh, the fundraising campaign collected Rs 40 lakh in just five days!
With ground support from Sonu Sood, 25 buses have been sent across four states and 11 cities.
The women’s group also plans to introduce new initiatives in the next few months, focusing on restoring livelihoods of migrants as well as in women’s empowerment, health and sanitation.
They have also donated about Rs 4 lakh for the construction of rainwater harvesting initiatives and conservation of natural resources in Aptale, Khotachiwadi and Faralepada villages of Maharashtra.
(Edited by Athira Nair)