While movement curb during the lockdown is preventing people to do their usual work, members of Bhubaneswar Bikash Sangathan are leaving no stones unturned to help the needy through their networks and volunteers in urban slums of the capital city.
Sashikala Jena, a 72 years old woman from Mundasahi slums in Palasuni area of Bhubaneswar staying all alone leaving nobody to care for her. Her sufferings are a long story but what she was in immediate need of the government assistance of 3 months ration, 1000 monetary assistance to make a living as she could not step out from her house for work. Despite the government’s effort to provide food and assistance for the needy, Sashikala was left aside.
A native of Aska area of Ganjam, Sashikala has witnessed many odds and struggles since last 10 years when she lost her husband.
However, the Sangathan members knew her since long and therefore stepped out for her help. With their proactive act, Sashikala received the ration and 1000 rupees and more importantly the ration card for which she was knocking doors from the last 10 years.
“I am happy that the Sangathan members helped me to get COVID assistance and a ration card. I have also requested them to help me to get an old-age pension and believe that they will make it for me,” said the happy Sashikala.
“There are many Sashilakala in these slum who need our care, protection and help. With the help of local administration, social activists and volunteers, we are working hard to help them any way possible,” said Sanjukta Arukh who mobilizes the communities to ensure that government benefits reach to the people in these slums in a war-footing.
Not only Shashikala, but Sanjukta and her team members have also helped Rashmita Behera and Sasmita Aluka, to get COVID assistance and ration cards for which they were struggling.
Similarly, a group of 8 people who are physically challenged were found it difficult to arrange food and the members of Bhubaneswar Bikash Sangathan helped them to get food, dry rations and some vegetables. These are the people who have migrated from Ganjam and Kandhamal to Bhubaneswar in search of jobs but have been stranded in Keshari Basti of Word no. 47 of Bhubaneswar and battling with their lives.
“I contacted Mr Ananta Narayan Jena the current MLA and the ex-Corporator of this area to intervene. A so rang calls to Mr Sachi Pradhan, who is a member of the COVID Response team in Bhubaneswar so that the neediest can be helped with food that they need to survive. Mr Ananta Jena and Sachi Pradhan have been so kind after hearing our efforts and extended help to them,” said Prativa Das of Bhubaneswar Bikash Sangathan, a collective that works over 95 urban slums in Bhubaneswar city.
“Not only this, our team is coordinating with all the 95 slums we work in and helping them the way we can since the lockdown has restricted our movement and therefore causing a lot of problems in contacting and coordinating with the people and officials”, Ms. Das added.
Recently, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has launched massive surveillance to check the health status of around 2 lacs slum dwellers in the city to check if anyone is infected with novel coronavirus and take appropriate measures to deal with it.
Naba Kishor Pujari is an author, columnist and Media professional and has been writing on education issues since last 10 years. His articles have been published in Odia, Hindi, English and Turkish journals and newspapers. He has received JP Overton fellowship for Education Policy in 2012 for his work on public education in India. Based in Bhubaneswar, Mr Pujari is awarded Laadli Media Award 2017 for his contribution in writing in newspapers on women’s rights, Duradarshi Samman 2013, Saptaka Literature Award in Youth Category for his contribution to literature and media.