by Jugal Kishore Pattnayak
The nationwide lockdown which led to an abrupt halt to all the economic activities had a terrible impact on the already impoverished families. No work and No income resulted in the sufferings of these people getting multiplied with each passing day. With the looming fear of hunger, they were forced to make their journeys back to their natives. Lakhs of Migrant Workers came back to the state of Odisha during the pandemic as they were in an uncertain period of awaiting, struggling to access aid to survive the lockdown. But even after they came back, they were welcomed with the same horrifying circumstances of extreme poverty & hunger. Migrants with their entire family were fighting a war like situation with no one left unscathed.
Mahashakti Foundation which is known for have worked for the deprived & destitute over the years took a greater role in providing emergency support to the people of the community in its operational areas. Joining hands with its existing partners & individual donors, it started providing relief & rehabilitation to the migrant workers.
Mahashakti Foundation in association with Goonj in its Dignity for Work initiative gave the people of Manikera, Kotobahalli. Pandapadar and Duttamunda villages of Kalahandi district & Malidhopaguda, Bakasisinpur, Dakulguda, Dalmeridi and Kadaranga villages of Rayagada district an opportunity to work and earn Household Essential Kits consisting of ration and Masks. The people of the villages cleaned ponds, did kitchen gardening, cleaned school premises, prepared fields, planted seeds, constructed gully plug, cleaned Anganwadi centres. Did organic vegetable cultivations and also cleaned tube well platforms of their respective villages to get the Kits to feed their families. 192 Kits were distributed with the support of Goonj.
With the support of Milaap, 100 Family Essential Kits were distributed to Migrant Workers of Bargarh District & Balangir District. 438 Family Essential Kits were distributed to migrants in Pandkamal, Muding, Nunpur & Singhpur villages in M Rampur Block with the support of Zerodha & Habitat for Humanity India. 30 kits were distributed by the support of Individual donors.
By surveillance and proper studies, we found out that even after returning back home, the migrants were struggling for food and were starving. Mahashakti Foundation then started collecting data of these workers from the Sarpanchs of the Gram Panchayats and the BDOs in its operational areas. After collecting data, officials of MSF went for survey and cross verification of the people at their own address. Looking at their awful condition, MSF contacted its existing partners and some other National level NGOs to come forward and help these people who were trying to lead their lives in a very unpleasant situation.
After getting support from the likes of Goonj, Milaap, Vedanta Ltd., ACC Ltd., Habitat, Zerodha and also the individual donors, Mahashakti Foundation with the help of local Sarpanchs informed the workers to get assembled in the Gram Panchayat offices to collect the Kits containing Rice, Wheat flour, Salt, Sugar, Tur Dal, Moong Dal, Tea Powder, Edible Oil, Sanitary napkins, Liquid Hand wash, Bathing Soap, Detergent, Utensil Soap and reusable Masks. Showing humanity during such trying times when the entire world is suffering earns nothing but blessings. MSF tried to share the pain of the people in and keep the spirit of kindness alive.