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Safe Passage Across States During the COVID 19 Lockdown

Managing the consequences of the national lockdown, Don Bosco Programme for the Young at Risk (DB PYaR) was reaching out to migrants and people in need in Kalaburagi, Karnataka—supplying groceries, creating awareness about COVID 19 and providing counselling. It also created a WhatsApp group specially for labourers and migrants from Kerala to reach out during emergencies. Through this platform, Fr. Saji -DB PYaR Director came to know about Zulfath and Safeek, a couple who are natives of Malappuram in Kerala.

Safeek is an English teacher in a school in Kalaburagi. Zulfath is in the 8th month of her first pregnancy; a much-cherished pregnancy because it occurred after five years. She had planned to return home for her delivery but was unsuccessful because of the cancellation of public and private transport during the sudden lockdown and its extension. Understandably, the couple’s anxiety was mounting in the face of a first delivery without the support of family. They asked people for help but in these difficult circumstances, no one could do much.

DB PYaR took up their problem and worked with the Non-Residential Keralites Association (NORKA Roots) and the District Commissioners of Police in Kalaburagi and Malappuram, to secure the requisite permissions and safe passage for the family by car.  Zulfath and Safeek journeyed home on 16 April 2020 and await the delivery of her baby in the security of familiar surroundings. They and their driver were instructed in safety protocols and all the procedures required during the pandemic were followed.

This beautiful orchestration of people in various capacities to reach out with compassion to strangers has inspired NORKA Roots to set up similar help desks for migrants from Kerala in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Kalaburagi, Hospet, Ballari and Mangaluru districts of Karnataka. Fr. Saji SDB is the contact person for the migrant help desk in Kalaburagi.

May these migrant help desks continue to reach out to help people in difficult and unfamiliar situations, further strengthening the spirit of human solidarity.


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