Images of the plight of migrant and daily wage labourers during the COVID 19 lockdown, suffering hunger and deprivation due to loss of income, have been filtering into our awareness through the media. BREADS and the Don Bosco partners in Kerala and Karnataka have been very active on the ground in seeking out and helping these individuals and families in need. Therefore, Mr. Binu Varghese, State Coordinator of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) turned to BREADS as a first resort to provide assistance to 72 migrants who were stranded at the Kolar railway station.
On 13 May 2020, late at night, Mr. Binu received a call from Mr. Srikantha Kumar, Kolar Municipal Corporation Commissioner and Mr. Chowdappa, Chairperson, Child Welfare Committee KGF (CWC). The call informed him about 72 people including 21 children below 12 years of age, who hailed from Uttar Pradesh but were stranded in Kolar without food, shelter, medicine and other basic needs. They were migrant labourers living with their families in Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) whose lives and daily income had been disrupted by the sudden lockdown due to COVID 19. They reached Kolar railway station hoping to return to their native state only to find that all trains to and from Karnataka had been cancelled. The group was identified by the district administration, who provided them with rations which were only sufficient for a week. Thereafter, they sought external help for the migrants. The BBA coordinator approached BREADS Bangalore for help in handling the situation.
In a coordinated effort, BREADS supported the cost of food supplies for the 72 migrants, while the CWC and Municipal Corporation Kolar saw to the food distribution and their shelter. Since the lack of cooking facilities and equipment was a problem, the supply of cooked meals was arranged under the leadership of Dr. Kadam, the CWC member.
As a result of these interventions, these migrant families including children have been provided with nutritious food, tea and snacks. The children received fruits and milk daily. The addition of few toys added to their joy. The team on the ground also educated the migrants about the prevention of COVID 19. The migrants are keenly awaiting the green signal from both the state governments to allow them to return home.
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