10 unforgettable tales of lockdown despair

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WE have all heard countless stories of the anguish caused by the nationwide lockdown due to the Coronavirus spread, especially to poor communities.  And migrant labourers and daily wage earners have taken the brunt of it, most abandoned by their employers, evicted by landlords and trapped in cities when all they want to do is go home. Before these stories of survival and endurance of our fellow citizens become mere statistics,  here are 10 that highlight how widespread the devastation of lives has been.

 

A young migrant, Jamuna (pic above representative)
  1. A young migrant, Jamuna, had been walking for days with her four-month-old baby, her husband and a few others. As per a story by Arun Dev, The Quint, the workers had covered over 100 kilometres on foot only to be turned away at the Andhra Pradesh border by the police. Jamuna said she had no other option as no trains were available to her home state of Odisha. 
  1. Farmers, already under much distress, are among the worst hit. Unavailability of helpers for harvesting and inability to sell the produce during lockdown has forced them to take extreme steps. A farmer, Ganpatbhai H Dantani, father of six killed himself after he suffered losses due to unsold cucumbers he grew on a rented piece of land in a village in Sola Gam, Gujarat. Full story by Satish Jha, Deccan Herald
  1. Collapsed fish markets during the lockdown have left lakhs of small fisheries impoverished. An article by Sharada Balasubramanian and Jency Samuel, The Wire, states that fishing communities across coastal states that have lost their source of income are plagued by several issues. Though some governments have allowed transporting and selling, there are no buyers.
(pic above representative)
  1. The healthcare staff, the frontline warriors in this fight against Coronavirus, risk their lives to be on the job every single day. Besides, 12-hour-long shifts and insufficient personal protective equipment (PPEs), they are dealing with other issues like social stigma, scared roommates and hiding the truth from families. Mariamma George, a nurse and team lead from Kerala who works in Covid-19 wards, cannot stop worrying about her four children at home, the youngest is only three years old. The full story of these bravehearts by Betwa Sharma, HuffPost India.
  1. Several street vendors are out of work and revival in the immediate future seems unlikely. Jaya Krishna’s small breakfast joint, Muthu Krishna Royal Tiffins, in Hyderabad, has remained shut for the last two months. The shop and house rent for the last three months, amounting to nearly ₹1 lakh, is due. Covered by Rahul Pisharody, The Indian Express.
  1. No one seems untouched by the pandemic and the collateral damage it continues to cause.  An article by NDTV highlights the plight of mall employees’ struggle for sustenance amidst the shutdown. Though better off than their migrant counterparts, the financial challenges are daunting for those who worked in malls across cities which are unlikely to open anytime soon. 41-year-old Anu, a sole breadwinner of the family, worked at a salon in a shopping mall in Delhi. With the coronavirus pandemic taking away her source of livelihood, she now has little choice but to move back to her hometown Patna after nearly two decades of building her life in the city.
The photo of Rampukar Pandit weeping by a road in Delhi was widely shared across all media. Pic: Atul Yadav/PTI
  1. As per a report by The Hindu, one man could not even go home to see his dying child. Rampukar Pandit, a construction worker in Delhi, was desperate to get home to see his ailing infant but wasn’t able to. Sadly, his child passed away. Rampukar’s anguished photo has become the face of the migrant tragedy in India.
  1. Sanitation workers, who are at high risk of contracting the virus, lack masks and gloves. Prabhjit Singh, The Wire, reports that those cleaning gutters and picking waste at dumping sites in cities are hazardously ill-equipped. Some workers had gloves and masks that were being reused and seemed worn out. Several others had to use handkerchiefs in absence of masks.
  1. Women working in the informal sector as cooks, cleaners, vendors, are under much distress due to a drop in incomes, greater health risks and increased domestic burden. Not only are the risks higher due to poor working conditions and other factors, they also have fewer resources to fight off the dangers. A domestic helper, Laila, who lives with her three children and husband, has not been able to enter her employers’ gated community gates since the lockdown and worries she will not be paid while she has not worked. Article by Shalini Sinha, Scroll.
  1. There has been a massive spike in the number of deaths due to starvation, especially among poorer children across India due to the lockdown. Navya Singh, The Logical Indian, writes about five-year-old Nimani who died of hunger, having gone without food for four days, in Jharkhand’s Latehar district. The child’s father, a brick kiln worker, has had no income and has struggled to feed the family for two months. 

Unable to earn their living, a large number of Indians are now dependent on food handouts by governments or NGOs for survival. Many are without homes. This is probably the greatest of tragedies of our times, a calamity of unprecedented magnitude. We urge you to donate to our Coronavirus fundraising missions and help with ongoing relief work. 

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GiveIndia is a 20-year-old NGO, registered under section 25 of the Companies Act. Our partner NGOs, who have the necessary permissions from the government to work on the ground during the lockdown, ensure that people who are in the greatest need receive at least minimal help – and this is made possible through donations

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