Photo credit: Chandra Kiran / Aide et Action
Since the beginning of the pandemic in India, Aide et Action has been paying special attention to migrant workers who are very weakened by the situation. While our teams try to provide them with the necessary support to avoid their displacement as much as possible, some families choose to go back to their home villages, even at the cost of all dangers. Here too, we continue to support them.
Since the announcement of the nationwide confinement in India, Aide et Action has been closely monitoring the situation of migrant workers and their families. Blocked on the sites where they work, most of them are currently living in particularly difficult conditions. Our teams support them and make sure that the government's relief measures reach them, but sometimes this is not enough. Families then decide to return to their home villages and embark on a very dangerous journey.
Choosing danger over despair
So when a list of migrant workers from Madhya Pradesh stranded in Kota reached Aide et Action's local office in Bhopal, our team immediately mobilized to help them. But as the confinement was prolonged, two families of 11 members, including children aged 5 and 3 months, lost hope and decided to embark on a perilous journey to return home.
When our team got in touch with them after two days, they had already covered 100 km, walking along the railway tracks. " We thought that following the railways was the best way to reach our destination as there was less chance of missing the route and we could also escape the police" said Tol Singh Ninama, one of them. Given the risk involved, our team decided to ensure their safety during the trip.
400 kilometres walked in 6 days
To this end, our colleagues maintained constant contact with the families and also talked to the managers of the stations on their route. The aim was to ensure that the migrants could rest safely on the platforms at night. In order to provide them with regular updates, we also made sure that their mobile phones were charged. Finally, we ensured that they had enough food for the journey by making remote payments to local traders via an app.
The families, after travelling 400 km in 6 days, finally reached their home town, Jhabua. After their arrival, our local team immediately took over the task of counselling them and looking after their well-being. The migrants are recovering from the physical and emotional trauma with our regular support sessions.
" Without the Aide et Action team, it would have been very difficult for us to return home safely. They provided food for our children and asked the railway officials to allow us to stay in the stations during the night. They kept checking on us and guiding us. We are happy to have finally reached our village and all this thanks to Aide et Action "concludes Dilip Ninama.