Since the start of the pandemic in India, Aide et Action has paid particular attention to migrant workers who are very weak from the situation. While our teams try to provide them with the support they need to avoid their displacement as much as possible, some families choose to return to their village of origin despite everything, at the cost of all the dangers. We continue to support them as well.
Since the nationwide lockdown was announced, Aide et Action through the network of like-minded organizations has been closely monitoring the situation of migrant workers and their families. Locked in at their work sites, most of them are currently living in particularly difficult conditions. Our teams support them and make sure that government relief measures reach them, but sometimes that is not enough. The families then decide to return to their village of origin and to embark on a very dangerous journey.
The choice of danger rather than despair
Likewise, when a list of a group of migrant workers from Madhya Pradesh stranded in Kota reached Aide et Action – Bhopal office, the team immediately connected with Ajeevika, a partner organization which is active in Rajasthan and ensured relief for the migrant workers regularly. As the lockdown was extended further, two families of 11 members including children aged 5 and 3 months which was part of the larger stranded group became disillusioned and anxious about the well-being of the old parents.
When our team got in touch with them after two days, they informed us that they have started walking from Kota and had already covered 100 km. In desperation to reach home in the easiest possible way, they walked along the railway tracks. “We felt following the railway tracks is the best way to reach our destination because there is less chance of missing the route and we can also escape from the police,” said Tol Singh Ninama. After all our measures to stop the family got exhausted, our team felt the need to atleast guide them and ensure their safety during their journey.
400 kilometers covered on foot in 6 days
Our team was continuously in touch with the family and also spoke to the railway station officials and requested them to provide safety to the family during their stay on the railway platforms during the nights. The team ensured that their mobile phone was recharged to receive regular updates from them. We made sure the family received something to fill their stomach and milk for children by making payment to the local shopkeepers through Google pay.
Finally, the family after travelling for 400kms in 6 days reached their hometown Jhabua. Once they reached their village, our local team immediately got in touch with the family and counselled them and ensured their well being. The family is recovering from the physical and emotional trauma through our regular counselling sessions.
“If not for Aide et Action team, it would have been very difficult for us to reach home safely. They ensured food for our children and requested railway officials to permit us to stay at the stations during the nights. They would continuously take updates from us and guide us. We are glad we finally reached our village and all thanks to Aide et Action,” says Dilip Ninama.