A Generous Unforgettable Help

A Generous Unforgettable Help

Forty-seven year old Arokiarani, a fish vendor by profession, lives with her husband in a thatched houses in Dumil Kuppam. Her husband’s a painter and her two children are married and settled with their own families. Before the lockdown was announced, Arokiarani was selling fish close to the sea as well as supplying to houses on request.

“It was a great blow to people like us. We depend on the sea and its resources. Our produce is perishable and needs be sold as quickly as possible. I managed to run the business along with the support of my husband so far. I also sold fish to individual houses until April. But the strict lockdown announced during the month of May shattered my little income also. No fisherman ventured into the sea, and it meant no fish for me. My husband’s source of income was also cut off as there was no work,” said Arokiarani.

With no money or source of income, they relied on help from the church and the dry ration from the PDS that helped them manage somehow. Though the families in a slum are closely knit, and were helping each other out as much as possible, the condition of each family was similar and there wasn’t much that anyone could do.

“Everyone wanted to help each other as much as possible. But what could we offer to others when our own rations were depleting? But we kept encouraging each other to stay strong and to wait for a favourable change to come.” And come it did. Volunteers from BLESS-Oxfam India surveyed their area for distribution of dry ration kits.

“We were really happy to see them when they knocked our doors. They gave life to our hopes,” said Arokiarani.

As part of the response, Oxfam India has been reaching out to some of the most marginalised communities across 16 states. And with ample support from its donors it has been distributing cooked food, dry ration, hygiene and safety kits, and distributing cash to the poorest households.

Barclays is one of them. With Barclays support, Oxfam India has reached out to 11550 people in five states — Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. They include people with disabilities, women-led households, waste pickers, domestic workers, transgenders, tea garden workers, migrant and informal sector workers, riot-affected families, daily wagers, and street vendors.

In Chennai alone, Oxfam India and BLESS reached out to 1550 households with food and hygiene kit which included 20 kgs of Rice, 3 kgs of pulses, 10 kgs of flour, a packet of haldi and chili powder each, a litre of refined oil, a kg of salt, sugar and soy bean. The kit also includes five units of masks, and six units of bathing soap, washing soap and sanitary napkins each.

The dry ration they provided was enough to sustain them for a month. “We do not have to worry about our meals anymore. It is good to know that there is food at home. I sincerely thank BLESS-Barclays-Oxfam India for this generous help. It has kept our hopes alive and we shall overcome the days to come,” smiles Arokiarani.

(The author is from our partner NGO BLESS in Chennai)

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