Phia Foundation has been running a bridge school for the children who fall under the umbrella of rag pickers community, unorganized daily wage workers, domestic workers, differently able people, old and single mother in Delhi/NCR region for the past 4+ years. Almost 400 children are studying in these centres and Phia is supporting them in their mainstreaming and enrolment onto formal government schools. These communities earn their livelihood from rag picking, rickshaw pulling and by doing other small jobs. Children are also engaged in sorting of garbage and taking care of younger siblings to support their family and give less time to academics.
The forced lockdown on account of the COVID19 pandemic has adversely impacted this community. While people who can afford are safely practising self-isolation at home to escape from this pandemic, these communities find themselves being further pushed into the cycle of poverty and inequality. Even during peace/normal times, these communities live in cramped up spaces amongst heaps of garbage dumps in small makeshift houses with hardly any access or means to practice basic hygiene and sanitation standards. Expecting these families to follow Covid19 preventive protocols is a bit far stretched.
As the lockdown kept extending, simultaneously Phia is engaging with the children and their parents to understand the impact of the lockdown and the emerging needs amidst the pandemic. Food shortage and starvation emerged as the biggest concern in the community. We came to know that children and their family are famished as they have run out of money. As most of the households have migrated to Delhi in search of livelihood to provide for their families,they don’t have ration cards or BPL card to access the entitlements provided by the Government.
Phia initiated an individual fund raising from good Samaritans and has raised enough resources to support 110 families with packets of dry ration kits. The distribution of dry ration was done with the help of our teaching Fellows working in the Bridge school centre as they reside in the same locality. We did the distribution on April 21-22, 2020 despite stringent restrictions on movement. The volunteers from the centre wore proper masks, gloves and followed social distancing and sanitizing protocols (for both the staff and the people receiving the Kits) before handing over the dry ration. Apart from this initiative, we have also collaborated with our partner The Evangelical Fellowship for India Commission on Relief, New Delhi to distribute dry ration Kits(10 kg rice, 10 kg wheat flour, 2kg pulses, 1kg Besan, 3 soaps, 4 sanitizer and 2 ltr oil) to 75 households living in the Delhi/NCR areas of Sangam Vihar, Madanpur Khadar and Bhowapur. The distribution was done in the presence of EFICOR staff after proper verification of credentials of the people who received the packets.
In Bhowapur, our team has contacted with multiple organisations and individuals and distributed ration kits (wheat flour, pulses, mustard oil and rice) for 200 families. Our project team worked as frontline workers and supported physical verification of families, identification of needy families, distribution and data creation and collection during whole month. The need emerging from the ground is huge as we continue our efforts to scale up our relief intervention.