COVID - 19 Response

With the onset of the COVID- 19 crisis, India has seen a very large reverse migration of workers making the arduous trip back to their homes from places of their work. Since the companies were shut due to nation-wide lockdown, many workers were left with no work and hence no earning. This forced them to travel home despite hardships as it was not feasible for them to stay at their place of work.

Paplesh Kumar Yadav, a migrant worker in Delhi was one among many who decided to go home. He is a resident of Tuniyahi village, under Khopaiti Panchayat in Madhepura district of Bihar which is over 1200 kilometres away from the capital.

Paplesh used to work as a labourer in Asia’s largest vegetable Mandi, Azadpur, in Delhi. He used to do the loading and unloading of vegetables from trucks and in return was paid a daily wage of Rs 300 per day. Along with his three friends, he used to live in a small house and paid Rs 4500 per month as rent. During the lockdown period, Paplesh was not getting enough work as there was plenty of workers available while the number of trucks reaching the mandi were greatly reduced. He recalls that at times he could not get any work for a week. Sometimes he was paid as low as Rs 200 for a day for a nine-hour shift.

With 10 members in his family to feed and to make a living in the Delhi, Paplesh had to take a call during lockdown. Since he is the only earning member in the family, he decided to come back to cut down on his personal expenses and ensure that family does not starve due to unavailability of food. Prior to lockdown, he could send around Rs 5000 every month to his family in Madhepura, but during lockdown he was not able to earn enough to meet his daily expenses in Delhi. As the situation became desperate, he asked his family in the village to send some money. He also managed to get some money from his well-wishers and friends in Delhi and bought a bicycle.

Paplesh recalls the hardships he faced while coming back to his village on a bicycle, more than 1200 kilometres away from Delhi. He also praises the generosity of individuals who helped him with water and food during his journey. But on reaching home, despite partial lifting of the lockdown, he did not get regular work.
Meanwhile, volunteers from CARE India came to his house and listed his name as a beneficiary who would be provided with a dry ration kit for a month. Few days later, he was provided a slip and asked to come to the project office and receive the ration kit. On receiving the kit, happiness was written large on Paplesh’s face. He mentioned that the ration is sufficient for his family for more than 20 days as his family has 10 members. He is thankful to COCA COLA and CARE India for the timely help which ensured that he and his family do not sleep hungry while Paplesh tries to increase his earnings in the village.

Paplesh is now planning to buy a thela and open a small-time eatery/refreshment shop to boost his earnings. He will not go back to Delhi in the near future.

During COVID – 19 crisis, Coca-Cola and CARE India provided dry-ration kits with meticulously curated food items to meet specific nutritional needs of various marginalised groups such as migrant workers, daily wage earners and people living with HIV/AIDS across various parts of the country. The three-month-long programme benefited over 1.5 lakh people.

CARE India Team