Covid Relief Continues in Chennai

Covid Relief Continues in Chennai

The pandemic and ensuing lockdowns left millions without any source of income and rapidly depleting resources. Oxfam India has been responding to the COVID-19 crisis across 16 states. Under Mission Sanjeevani, we identified families in need of support and distributed relief kits to them. With support from Technicolor, we delivered food and safety kits to families in Chennai. We have distributed relief material to 575 families adversely affected by the pandemic.

These are the stories of four families who received relief kits, comprising food and hygiene items, in Chennai’s Vyasarpadi neighbourhood.

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Samanthi is a daily wage worker and a single parent. Her daughter Jothipriya is 12-years-old and her younger daughter Jayapriya is 10-years-old. Like millions of daily wage workers across the city, Samanthi was badly affected by the pandemic. Her family had barely recovered from the first wave when the second wave hit the country.

The pandemic left her without any work. “Being a single parent, the expenses of the family were met with great difficulty. I had used most of my savings during the first sweep and was left with nothing when the second wave began. I struggled to provide nutritious food for my daughters. The ration depleted faster than expected." shares Samanthi.

It was during this time that the team from Oxfam India and Technicolor started distributing relief kits in her neighbourhood. With this timely support, the family is especially glad for the inclusion of sanitary products in the relief kit and will be able to manage their food needs for a month. “As a family, we sincerely extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Oxfam and Technicolor teams,” says Samanthi.

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Murali is a 44-year-old auto driver and his wife Janaki is a 39-year-old daily wage worker. They have two teenage children — their son Kugan is 19 and their daughter Bharathi is 17.

The second wave of the pandemic hit the family hard. Their income sources vanished and they had very little ration, which was depleting fast. There were days where one person in the family went without food so that the remaining family members could eat.

Much to the family’s relief, it was around this time the volunteers from Oxfam India and Technicolor started distributing the relief kits to people in the area. “We could not afford such high-quality products even before the pandemic. We are now sustained for a whole month,” says Murali.

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Uma Shankar is a 48-year-old electrician. His wife Megammal is 38-year-old and a homemaker. The couple has two children — 14-year-old Harihara and 11-year-old Keerthana. While the family had a small income, they could get by.

The pandemic and the ensuing lockdown left the family struggling financially. “It is my responsibility to provide them food as a father. As we were completely locked inside our home, we had no source of income at all,” shares Uma Shankar. He adds, “The condition during the second lockdown deteriorated the situation. We had gone from bad to worse. When all hope was lost, the volunteers from Oxfam India and Technicolor surveyed for people who were struggling to make ends meet. We cannot explain the joy we had when they knocked on our doors”.

The teams from Oxfam India and Technicolor had provided rations to selected families in the neighbourhood which could help them for a considerable period. People were quite appreciative of the quality of the distributed items. “Acts like these provide us with a sense of certainty and belief that goodness still exists in the world,” says Uma Shankar.

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Sumathi is a contract worker with the Indian railways and her husband Shankar is an auto driver. Before the pandemic, they provided for their family with a modest albeit hard-earned income with which they managed a decent living. Their daughter, Jayashree is in the 7th standard and their son Sudhakar is in the 5th standard.

When the pandemic swept through the country, it cut off income sources for people across the country. “With no source of income, food has become a luxury more valuable than gold. There were days when we had nothing but water and we had to survive on small sips of black tea or porridge. There were some people with good hearts that helped us as much as they could, but it wasn’t enough. Asking for help with food never felt this hard,” shares Sumathi.

During the pandemic, Sumathi had to stay home and her husband could not work either. With all sources for survival running out, it was then that the volunteers from Oxfam India and Technicolor visited the area to provide relief materials to the residents.

“Our joy knew no bounds and we were happy to receive this help. It is the way that they treated us with great respect that made us glad to accept this help. We can have a decent meal now. I thank everybody who has given us this support. This has given me hope in life”, says Sumathi.

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