This has been a difficult time for all of us, but has become a question of survival for many. Lakhs of people in every nook and corner of the country are going from meal to meal, with no surety of how they will find their next one. The working-class family is typically in debt from years of impoverishment already, and eat what they earn each day. Thus the lockdown has put everyone who is part of the unorganised sector in vulnerable positions.
Muskaan has been providing relief to the families most affected by the lockdown from Day 1. We started by supporting 2000 who we have been working with for many years. Today, 3 weeks later, we are covering about 4500 families across different parts of the city, and many more individual households where the identified need is high.
What have we been doing?
a) Fund Raising
We have been able to do this because of people like you. We get donations on a daily basis and the supplies we procure from those donations are used by the end of each day. People donate for families @ Rs. 700 per family per week.
We've also received donations in kind where grain, oil and fresh produce have been collected & sent out to 4 storage points across the city. Some donors have given us vehicles for distributions.
Different voluntary groups like Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch (MPMM), students, and individuals have helped us make contact with wholesalers, in distribution, in making lists of households in critical need, and with putting pressure on government functionaries to begin PDS and other distribution systems so that more people can receive rations at this time.
b) Procurement of Food Items
We procure rations - wheat-flour, rice, pulses, oil and vegetables and eggs. This has often been a challenge, with limited stocks available with wholesalers. We've been supported immensely by the farmers and people who have come forward and bought dry rations for us to distribute.
c) Identifying and reaching people in need
1. Shahri Mazdoor Sangathan is a network of working-class people from different communities. Many depend on waste- picking for their earning while others work on construction sites, and still others do daily wage work in different small service sectors especially repairs and maintenance. Members of the Sangathan identify households in critical need.
2. We have also approached settlements where people are living in open shanties, seasonal migrants who have come from different districts - all of whom are dependent on daily income. They have given us requirements for their areas and also connected us with other members of their communities who are living in clusters elsewhere in the city.
3. Sometimes the ICDS workers with whom we were working earlier approach us for needs in their areas.
4. Additionally, like minded, concerned citizens have called to inform us about groups/settlements in and around their localities who they would like to help.
All of these people send us a list of vulnerable families which has been made at the community level, and we provide them the rations.
How do we distribute?
Distribution is done at a specified time, usually early in the morning. Rations are delivered to a pre-
arranged point near the settlement. 2-3 members from the community collect the rations and deliver it to the households in need.
Efforts are made to minimise physical interaction and exposure. In larger settlements, the rations are distributed lane by lane through volunteers from each lane collecting the required quantity and delivering door to door. The entire distribution happens through a chain of volunteers in as safe a manner as possible.
What do we give?
We try to give weekly rations. This means 5 kg of rice, 5 kg of aata[wheat flour], 2 kg of daal[lentils] and 1 litre oil for a family. If weekly stocks are not available with us, we need to make more frequent trips to the bastis. We have been adding vegetables or fruits or eggs when we can.
We look forward to your support as we get into the second phase of the lock down, which is impacting people increasingly harshly. Please donate in cash or kind.
Note - All donations to Muskaan in Indian Rupees are eligible for tax-exemption under Section 80G.
Seema (9827302869); Pallav (9424917757)