Money Support Gives Wings to Ideas

Money Support Gives Wings to Ideas

The lockdown imposed to flatten the COVID-19 curve took its toll on many but it hit the migrant labourers and daily wage earners the hardest. Oxfam India’s COVID-19 response — with dry ration, cooked food, safety and hygiene kits and cash transfers — was designed to help the most marginalised and vulnerable tide over these tough times.

Madhushmita Jena, a Dalit, was one of them.  She is also one of those who with a little cash support started a small business to sustain her family in the long run.

Based out of Jhatinuagaon village (Tangi block, Khordha district, Odisha) Madhushmita was among those whose meagre source of income had been snatched away due to the pandemic. Her daily wage earnings, supported her family of three, including a small daughter and a neighbour.

She managed for some time with the ration that she got from the Public Distribution System and the Rs 2,000 that she received from the state government as additional Covid support for Food Security Act beneficiaries. But, she was running out of money and food and was beginning to face huge uncertainties.

As part of the COVID-19 response, Oxfam India along with Give India Foundation provided cash of Rs 5000 for marginalised and most vulnerable families. In Odisha, 450 households were identified for this unconditional cash transfer. Oxfam India scouted 24 districts in the state with the help of 25 NGO partners and identified some of the most distressed and vulnerable households. Sahayog, its partner in Khordha, works with absolutely distressed, women-led households with multiple vulnerabilities. And that is how, Madhushmita was identified and Rs 5000 was transferred to her account.   

Though the cash was given for families to meet their immediate needs, Madhushmita had something else planned. She started a business from the very next day — she started selling ready to eat items like nali papad, fried groundnuts and cashews. She tasted success. Even with the lockdown in place, she managed to earn Rs 300 a day. She plans to expand her business gradually. She can make Odia traditional sweet dishes like aarisha. She plans to start preparing and selling such items once the COVID-19 situation eases in her village. She also plans on supplying such materials to bigger shops in neighbouring larger villagers like Singipur and Tangi.

Inputs & Photograph by: Bijayalaxmi Sahoo, SAHAYOG

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