The lockdown imposed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus adversely affected the migrant workers who lost accessibility to basic services. In Uttar Mainpura, Patna, SEWA aagewans brought attention to the hunger-stricken conditions of migrant workers, who feared dying of hunger due to the pandemic.
Shamshad Bano, a resident of Khwaja Colony in Bikaner, has been associated with SEWA Rajasthan since 2008. She has been instrumental in spreading awareness about menstrual hygiene and distributing sanitary napkins to the women of her community, who never had access to them.
Community members in the village of Kampara in Odisha were facing shortage of masks amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. SEWA’s digital sakhi, Jyotirmayee Dash, whose livelihood had been badly affected due to the lockdown, saw this as an opportunity of alternate income.
A resident of Samaspur village in Uttarakhand, Sheelaben is one if the oldest aagewans in SEWA, and one whose energy is difficult to match. She had moved to Dehradun with her husband as a young bride, and to support their family of 7, she learned stitching, estimating her measurements as she had never received a primary education. She joined SEWA in 2012, and became an aagewan soon after.
Batulben from Sanjay Nagar Basti in Rajasthan had attended school until the 8th grade. To support her family financially, Batulben had joined SEWA for training in Lac craft and stitching, and soon became a trainer for these skills. She was also determined to complete her education and with the support of her family, was pursuing her 10th grade studies from an open school.
SEWA members in Misir Gonda, Kanke, in Ranchi, are domestic workers. Most of them were unable to go to work during the lockdown. In the grips of the financial crisis, when even food essentials became hard to come by, masks were a luxury that couldn’t be afforded.
The concerns arising through the lockdown are endless; displacement, hunger, lack of shelter and distress with employment being the most paramount. With everyone held up indoors, there has been a significant rise of domestic violence cases reported across the country. One of SEWA’s community members, Manju Ben reported the same in one of the meetings. She was being abused by her husband and sister-in-law.
The community members of Mubarakpur and Danapur communicated their distress and anxieties of having to die of starvation if food supplies did not reach them any sooner. Understanding the emergency of the situation, SEWA aagewans redirected their efforts and channelled in supplies from the government and distributed it among community members by the ward councillor.