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COVID-19 Response: Migrant workers and families receive food and essential kits

NEWS

By GV News Desk

19 May 2021

Gram Vikas and its partner the Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development (CMID) in Kerala is collaborating with the Labour Department, Government of Kerala, to ensure that migrant workers from Odisha working in Ernakulam district are taken care of during the lockdown. Till now, 855 migrant workers and their families received food and essential materials kits with a dry food ration of rice, flour, pulses, potato, spices, tea, soap mask, and sanitizer from the Labour Department.

Rajendra Naik, a migrant worker from Kandhamal in Odisha, working in a plywood company in the Ernakulam district is relieved, “The plywood company I worked in shut down a week ago. I live here with my wife and two daughters. With no work, I have to somehow manage to feed my family with whatever I saved in the past few months when we went back to work. I am relieved that this time we have already received some dry ration like rice, dal, spices, potato, tea, sugar, mask, sanitizer, and soap. Thankfully it will help my family pull through another week.”

Rajendra is one of the many migrant workers and their families identified in Kerala through a mapping exercise for support. The Bandhu Seva Shramik Kendras (BSSK), the migrant service centers at the destination sites, a part of the Gram Vikas Safe and Dignified Migration Programme did the mapping. The two BSSK centers are in the Ernakulam and Thrissur districts of Kerala.

Kerala went into a lockdown in May 2021 to arrest the spread of COVID-19 infections as part of the second wave of the pandemic. In March this year, in anticipation of a second wave of the pandemic, the BSSK with support from Gram Vikas partners, Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development (CMID) in Kerala, ESAF Bank, and Prachodhan Development Society, initiated mapping of the migrant population from Odisha working in Kerala. The BSSK mapped nearly 5495 migrant workers and their families across 23 locations in the Ernakulam district of Kerala.

As part of the COVID-19 response, we are reaching out to these migrant workers and their families with the needed support. Earlier this month, the BSSK in Ernakulam partnered with the National Health Mission to vaccinate interstate migrant workers in the district, an initiative supported by Arghyam.

The BSSK works as a destination facilitation and resource center for migrant workers from Odisha. It provides support and information to the migrant workers, such as financial literacy, translation, transportation, accommodation, and psycho-social counseling.

Gram Vikas’ COVID-19 response programme is multi-pronged as marginalised communities struggle with interlinked issues of health, life, livelihoods, food, mental health because of the pandemic. The specific support for migrant workers includes running a 24×7 helpline for grievance redressal, access to food and accommodation at destination states, and safe travel back to the villages.

You can support our ongoing response work here: COVID-19 RELIEF FUND FOR HEALTH & LIFE SECURITY

Reporting by Jaison Jose Thomas, Manish Yadav,  Shafeena PS and Ayaz Anwar.

Dry food ration being distributed to migrant workers in Vathuruthy town in Ernakulam district.

Photograph by Ayaz Anwar

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