A group of volunteers from Sukarma Foundation, an NGO in Madhya Pradesh's Narsinghpur district have been on the road since the start of COVID-19 lockdown with the aim to feed and support the migrant labourers. Sitting day and night under a small tent on the highway, with food and hygiene kits, these volunteers are playing the role of good Samaritans for thousands of migrant workers and their families.
The COVID-19 lockdown, threw up some unforeseen challenges of providing food, shelter and stable source of livelihood for many people working away from home in cities, as daily wagers or in the unorganised sector. Many were forced to fend for themselves to even return to their native place to be with their family at a time of crisis. In order to provide some relief to the migrant workers during this long and hard journey, a team of ten volunteers of Sukarma Foundation set up a camp at the Nandner village on National Highway 22 that saw hundreds of migrants travelling, sometimes on foot daily.
These volunteers provide cooked food and hygiene kits comprising of soaps, sanitisers, sanitary napkins, medicines, ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution), slippers, along with other things free of cost to the migrant workers passing by.
Maya Vishwakarma, a former Cancer Researcher in the United States of America who founded Sukarma Foundation in 2016 said that since COVID19 crisis hit the country, the foundation has dedicated itself in providing food and essential items to lessen the pain of migrants.
The volunteers prepare food at a local dhaba (roadside eatery) with the help of the dhaba staff. Along with the migrant workers, food is also distributed to truck drivers and other public vehicle staffers and any passer-by who needs food.
The volunteers have helped over 20,000 people in the past 70 days.
'For the migrant workers, especially women and children, managing on the long and tough road to home without access to any type of amenity has been very difficult', says Ms. Vishwakarma.
The foundation has distributed 3500 masks, 4000 pair of footwear, 6000 sanitary pads, 5000 packets of ORS and 1000 clothes (t-shirts, shirts, pants).
Along with providing essentials, the foundation is also raising awareness among the migrants on social distancing and the importance of maintaining hand hygiene.
As the migrant workers rest Ms. Vishwakarma sometimes conduct small talks with women on menstrual hygiene management.
Sukarma Foundation is also reaching out to the senior citizens in villages and slums in Narsinghpur district of Madhya Pradesh and is providing them with food grains and other essentials items to help them cope with the current COVID-19 crisis.