Silver Lining for Tiger Widows

Silver Lining for Tiger Widows

For tiger widows, Sabitri Bauliya and Sanoka Singh in Sunderbans Kumirmari village, Oxfam India’s aid in the form of dry ration was god sent. “In the past, we have received food items and other help from other organisations but the amount and quality provided by this organisation is much superior,” Sanaka says. 

Sabitri had just been married for a year and a half when her husband fell prey to the man-eater of Sunderbans. Left without any economic support and with a new born infant, she moved in with her mother. Unfortunately, the son died young due to illness and her inability to get him treated. Sanoka had a similar fate. Only she was left behind with four children and absolutely no money. For many women in these parts, hunger, poverty and distress looms large as these families have to venture into the forest in search of livelihood.

Kumirmari, a remote village in Gosaba block in S 24 Parganas in the Sunderbans is prone to super cyclones and storms. In the last three years alone, the ecologically fragile Sunderbans was battered by four tropical cyclones — Fani (May 2019), Bulbul (November 2019), Amphan (2020) and Yaas (2021). The devastation due to breached embankments, ingress of sea water and complete destruction of any cultivable land leaves behind utter poverty and desperation. 

Sabitri lives with her mother in a mud house on a small patch of land her father left behind. But with cyclones and storms every year that breach the embankment , Sabitri’s mud house is left damaged every year. Every year she spends her savings in rebuilding the house. She works as a house help. Sanoka’s house too gets submerged every year leading too loss of household items and food. This year, after Cyclone Yaas, she had to relocate to a makeshift shelter with her differently abled son. Three of her other children left her earlier after they started earning their own livelihoods.

Cyclone Yaas was perhaps the breaking point for many. Especially since it came during a pandemic, months of lockdown and a year of no work. The food and safety kit distribution by Oxfam India was the silver lining, many said.

Sabitri calls Oxfam India her ‘friend in need’.  She says, “The items in the kit are very useful. Previously we did not receive such items of daily importance. This will help us immensely”.

Both Sabitri and Sanoka thanked Oxfam India and hoped we would reach to a lot more people in Kumirmari and nearby cyclone-affected areas.

📢Oxfam India is now on Telegram. Click here to join our Telegram channel and stay tuned to the latest updates and insights on social and development issues.    


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