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Anila, a resident of Sanghat Residency in Surat begins her day by making rotis for migrant workers, who she fondly refers to as her ‘new family’.
Though she has never met any of them, Anila has been doing this ever since the nationwide lockdown was imposed. “It’s hardly any work as I only have to make ten extra rotis. But through this small gesture, I am happy that at least a few people get some food to eat,” she informs The Better India.
Like Anila, around 30 families in her building complex and 26,000 households across the city have been preparing rotis for the needy under a noble initiative ‘Roti Seva’ taken by Chhanyado, an NGO.
“There are close to 21 states including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Rajasthan from where workers migrate to Surat in search of jobs every year. Owing to the nationwide lockdown and shutting of factories, thousands of migrants are stuck in the city without any job or essentials. There is very little people can do to help due to the restriction on movement. So we came up with this initiative which is neither time-consuming nor expensive,” says Bharat Shah, the President of the NGO to TBI.
With the help of social media, Whatsapp groups and word of mouth, the NGO sent out an appeal for help on 27 March. About 20 families responded to the call, and now, the number has risen to about 1,000.
The NGO claims that it collects and distributes close to 1 lakh rotis to migrants every day. The NGO also prepares a vegetable gravy to complete the meal.
Apart from the households, the NGO has also roped in 129 other organisations to carry out a similar roti collection initiative. For people who do not have access to kitchen provisions, Bharat and his team provide stove, ghee, flour, utensils.
How it Works
Interested citizens can volunteer by filling an online google form, reach out to the NGO via Facebook or directly call the NGO members. The volunteer will be rejected if he/she resides in a red zone in a bid to maintain the social distancing protocol and safety of others.
Based on area-wise collection duties, the NGO members visit the building apartments in the morning across 1,500 locations and transport the rotis to the NGO’s kitchen.
Here, they make hundreds of food packets, each having up to four rotis and 180 grams of sabzi.
“We have a team of around 150 people, including cooks, domestic help, and volunteers who run the initiative. During the entire process, we ensure strict hygiene with precautions like masks and gloves. We have appointed one person in every building to make sure that all rotis are packed and kept at the building entrance at their allotted time. This way, there is no physical interaction,” explains Vipul, an NGO member.
The NGO has availed passes from the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) to ensure a smooth flow.
Thousands of migrant workers are stranded because of the lockdown away from their families. Lack of proper food and depleting savings has resulted in some unfortunate incidents, including deaths.
Along with governments, it is NGOs like Chhanyado that are making attempts to restore normalcy with their simple yet heartwarming gesture.
“As a country, we have witnessed exemplary efforts by our citizens every time there is a calamity, and COVID-19 lockdown is no exception. For me, the real heroes are the compassionate households that are taking an extra effort for strangers which is making a huge difference. I appeal everyone to do whatever they can in their capacity to help the needy,” concludes Bharat.
To volunteer or get in touch with the NGO, click here.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)