Zamrutpur in Greater Kailash, Delhi is largely populated with daily wage workers, househelps, construction labourers, drivers and others engaged in the informal sector. With a devastating second wave of COVID-19 that hit Delhi in April followed by a stricter lockdown, it wreaked havoc on the lives and livelihood of people in Zamrutpur.
The househelps would complain about job loss. The residents in Greater Kailash were sceptical of the spread of the virus and thus, sent them away. Househelps and all others who earned their daily livelihoods, as a result many were rendered without pay. Some families didn’t have enough money for rent or food. They prioritized roof over their heads over hunger.
The devastation the second wave inflicted on the communities was different from the first wave and there were less civil society groups up for volunteering. We at Samadhan Abhiyaan with Greenpeace India tried the best we could in our limited capacity to work with these communities in need.
Greenpeace India decided that they would provide the community with dry rations kits sourced from small sustainable farmer produce.. We connected around 170 families with dry ration kits in three slums of Zamrutpur, Ashoka Bindusara camp and Jagdamba camp. This time, we focussed on covid patients and lactating mothers in the area, they were the most vulnerable.
This particular piece of work was in continuation with Greenpeace India’s “Circle of Solidarity”, in collaboration with Samadhan Abhiyan and Urban Kyari. Greenpeace procured organic farm produce from farmers with the help of the Urban Kyari and provided the produce to Samadhan Abhiyan to cook and distribute dry kits to a marginalized locality Zamrutpur. The project had been a huge success during the first lockdown as the community of about 170 daily wage workers were provided with dry ration kits.
During these days, we witnessed a number of heartbroken personal accounts of the community members. Some women in the area would say how their young children are desperately looking for odd jobs to feed their families. Husbands have lost their jobs and the families are under huge financial stress.
The home makers have been feeling very anxious about the lockdown lately, as they remain trapped in a one room apartment with no ventilation and nowhere to go. It is having an adverse impact on their mental health. To try to tackle this, Greenpeace has organized art therapy sessions through virtual zoom meetings that help with healing and developing a positive mindset.
Pandemic is only one aspect of the many problems the community faces. Women domestic help told us mobility is a major concern. Most have to walk for kilometres to work which consumes their productive time and energy. The inadequate and minimal frequency of buses adds to their problem. Additionally, private auto-rickshaw or rickshaw don’t render as financially viable options. As a result, they are unable to take up work in many households. Hence, we have decided to give them cycle training with the help of Greenpeace.
The women were convinced with cycles as they not only felt empowered but also had an environmentally-friendly and healthy approach to it. They said, it would also help them to save time and money and travel to work to relatively distant areas as well, resulting in more work and hence more income for them.
Visiting hospitals for medical attention is another financial burden. As the public transport systems are currently unavailable and the available private options are very expensive, we are trying to arrange a few free e-rickshaws for them. I appeal to our readers, if someone can arrange a few e-rickshaws, it will be a huge help to the community.
We are thankful to the local representatives for their support and facilitation.
We believe, it is still a long way to address the challenges faced by the communities at Zamrutpur. We at Samadhan Abhiyan are committed to work with the Zamrutpur community and work toward a life of dignity.
(Archana, is founder of Samadhan Abhiyan, a non-profit organization that works on tackling the issues pertaining to child sexual abuse.)