As I sit before the computer, typing this story in the comfort of my home, I cannot help but acknowledge the privilege that working from home policy brings to people like me.
But what happens to those who do not have this option? The worst-affected are daily wage earners like domestic help, security guards, rickshaw drivers, handcart pullers, and waste pickers.
With their work and mode of income disrupted, the coming weeks look bleak for them, as their families run out of supplies.
In these testing times, a few heroes have stepped up to extend a helping hand. Here are six initiatives in four cities, ensuring that the needy do not go to bed hungry.
1. Hasiru Dala, Bengaluru
Bengaluru-based social impact organisation Hasiru Dala which works for the rights of waste pickers has identified more than 1,000 vulnerable waste picker families struggling with Below Poverty Line/ration cards, public housing and unpredictable income in over six cities and towns of Karnataka like Bengaluru, Mysuru, Tumakuru, Davanagere, Hubli and Dharwad.
Speaking to The Better India, founder Nalini Shekar says, “While most people have the privilege to work from home, waste picker families are struggling to make ends meet. The waste on the street that they pick has reduced, and their children are out of school without mid-day meals. More than 3,000 people are jobless with no source of income. Those who lack public housing and live in slums don’t have space or money to store food in large quantities. We are seeking funding and volunteers to provide care kits to these families.”
One care kit consists of 5 kg rice/wheat, 2 kg lentils and two bars of soap costing Rs 550, including transportation to their homes. Starting today, Hasiru Dala is distributing food to over 500 families.
Presently, the organisation is using its funds. But if the lockdown continues, the sustenance of the initiative seems complicated. You can help them by donating at
Account name: Hasiru Dala
Savings Account no: 64132965349
State Bank of India, Cauvery Bhavan Branch, Bengaluru
IFSC code: SBIN0003182
2. Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA), Mumbai
Mumbai-based NGO Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA) conducted an early assessment in 20+ settlements across four locations in the Greater Mumbai area —Vasai Virar, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Panvel where they work. They identified over 1,500 low-income and vulnerable families in dire need of support, in the wake of COVID-19.
YUVA launched its campaign ‘Together We Can’ to raise funds to offer emergency relief in the form of food kits to these marginalised families. The kit consists of rice, wheat, pulses, and oil, to last a week and costs Rs 600 per package.
In the last three days, the NGO’s volunteers have distributed these to 688 marginalised families comprising 3,440+ individuals.
Speaking to The Better India, Doel Jaikishen, a member of the organisation, said, “We are also desperately seeking recommended personal protective equipment (full body suits, gloves, masks) to increase the safety for our distribution team, and contacts of truck/tempo operators who can help us transport the food and speed up the process of distribution.”
Want to help YUVA? Donate here to help them arrange for more kits.
Contact YUVA on 9830795695 or 9167723237.
3. Adhikar Foundation, Delhi
After the recent lockdown in Delhi, founder of Adhikar Foundation, Mohd Anas, started reaching out to daily wage earners, rickshaw pullers and drivers in Jamia Nagar, Okhla.
“The lockdown has left daily wage earners stranded. Many of these rickshaw pullers who live in cramped rooms with 10-12 members are largely dependent on small hotels and food joints for their supper. With the shutdown of those services and the lack of space to cook their food, we decided to deliver cooked food packets to them,” Anas told The Better India.
The food distribution drive started yesterday and will continue until 31 March 2020. It is providing meals twice a day to 400 people. The Foundation is working with a restaurant to cook this food.
“We deliver these packets at people’s doorsteps to avoid any mass gathering and are using safety measures like sanitisers and masks,” he adds.
People in need can place an order for lunch before noon, and for dinner before 7 pm. While a veg lunch/dinner plate costs Rs 90, a non-veg lunch/dinner plate will cost Rs 100. The funds required to cook food for 400 people come up to Rs 15,200 per day.
You can help Adhikar Foundation by donating at:
IFSC CODE- ICIC0004305
Branch: SAINI ENCLAVE
Phone Pay/Paytm- +91-8287059359
Contact Anas to know more about the initiative on +916397804723.
4. Palghar’s Lynette D’Souza
Borivali-based wildlife rescuer Lynette D’Souza who is currently living in her hometown in Palghar has also taken up the cause of supporting daily wage workers.
In a telephonic call with The Better India, Lynette shares, “I am a wildlife rescuer and an animal rights activist. When I decided to move to my Palghar home for the lockdown period, I took special permission from the Superintendent of Police to feed the strays here in the night. It was on one such visit five days ago that I met a few daily wage workers. My interaction pushed me to think about their plight. I have helped 30 people so far. I contacted my grocery seller to deliver the food kits to my home, which I now give to people in need.”
The food kit comprises rice, dal, oil and basic cooking spices.
D’Souza has shelled money from her pocket to fund the initiative. “We are financially comfortable. My husband is a gynaecologist; we run a hospital and a blood bank. So I am happy to help people.”
Those in need can collect the food kits from her for free from near Kanta Hospital, Palghar. You can contact her on 9765472264.
5. Roti Ghar, Mumbai
City-based social activist, Chinu Kwatra’s Roti Ghar, has opened its kitchen to cook food for daily wage earners.
Speaking to The Better India, Kwatra shared that the food distribution will start today where 1,000 freshly-cooked meals will be delivered to security guards, labourers, and rag pickers in Mumbai, Thane, Airoli, Bhiwandi.
He adds, “I am glad to inform you that seven of our members have received ‘essential service pass’ from Mumbai Police by DCP Zone – 9 to conduct Roti Ghar smoothly in this lockdown.”
To ensure the safety of the volunteers, there will be no mass gatherings. The food will be distributed in packets using vans. Also, the volunteers will wear protective equipment such as masks, goggles, gloves, caps and use sanitisers.
Roti Ghar will provide these meals twice a day. Each meal costs Rs 25. You can support this initiative by donating on:
Paytm/Google Pay on 9769181218
For Neft/Imps transfers:
Account holder’s name: Khushiyaan Foundation
A/c no: 919010011925633
IFSC code- UTIB0000772
Bank: Axis Bank
Branch – Ghodbunder Road, Thane
A/c type – Savings
6. Residents of Chennai unite to help conservancy workers
Not all superheroes wear capes. Many wear masks, hold brooms and carry barrels of piling garbage. Floods or crises like COVID-19, don’t stop conservancy workers. These foot soldiers of Chennai get down to the streets every day to ensure basic hygiene.
To support these workers, the civic body of Chennai is taking measures to provide them with sanitisers, gloves and disposable masks.
But with the situation on high alert, residents of Zone 13 Chennai have come forward to start a fundraiser. The conservancy workers work for menial salaries and have a hand-to-mouth existence with no pension or additional savings. Your contribution will help them build a supporting fund if (hopefully not) they fall ill.
The amount raised will be sent directly to their bank accounts.
You can contribute to this fundraiser on Milaap here.
So while you keep yourself and your family safe by staying at home, do spare a thought to those less privileged.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)