The situation of migrant workers in India is alarming. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the sudden suspension of work and restrictions on movement drag them into deep social distress. To support them during this period, Aide et Action ensures their food supply and defends their fundamental rights. Here are few updates on our actions in Hyderabad.
In Hyderabad, where Aide et Action already works with the migrant population, our teams advocated with the owners of brick kilns and construction sites and convinced them to provide shelter and a dry ration for all migrants working on their sites. Thanks to this advocacy work, around 6,000 migrants, spread over fifty sites, now benefit from this aid and also receive a weekly grant of INR 500 from the employers.
“Initially, we were unaware of the existing relief mechanisms for migrants. Therefore, we asked the construction workers to leave our sites, explains Venkata Rao, Director of a construction company in Hyderabad. “But at the same time, Aide et Action, which was running a child care centre in our premises, approached us and supported us in mobilizing relief material for the migrants. We then realised that it is also our duty to help our workers. Since then we too are actively working to provide relief material like rice, pulses, vegetables and other essentials” he adds.
“Immediately after the lockdown was announced, our employer asked us to leave the brick kiln worksite, says Kumar Maji, a migrant working in a brick kiln in Telangana. With no transportation it was near to impossible to travel 850 kms that separated us from our home village, in Odisha. I don’t know what we would have done… Thanks to Aide et Action, our employer finally budged and gave permission for us to stay.”
Aide et Action also continues to maintain its support for the children of migrant workers. Even as the Child Care and Learning Centres were shut down for safety reasons, we ensured mid-day meal and nutritional support to all the children at their homes. “With no work to feed our children, this support is helping us to tide this difficult period,” says Meena, a mother of two girl children.
Alongside the relief activities, we are also conducting hygiene and health awareness campaigns to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Basic protective gear, including masks and gloves, has been distributed to all migrants and their children, and our education volunteers have been continuously promoting social distancing and hygiene methods.
Our teams have been proactively addressing the issues faced by distressed migrant families in other parts of the city as well. They have been providing psycho-social counselling support and distributed grocery kits to migrants who have come to our notice through various NGO and community whatsapp groups and government COVID-19 help lines. “We are part of the NGO group working collectively to support migrants stranded during the lockdown. As soon as we receive information in the group about the distressed migrants in Telangana we immediately reach out to them and provide relief followed by other services,” says Suresh Gutta, Regional Manager – Hyderabad, Aide et Action.