by Father Barnabe D'Souza & Cleric Christopher Nadar for BISMumbai

In the month of July, we had a lot of stock-taking to do as well as, to study the situation and needs of those that genuinely needed help and separate them from those that could manage their resources. As the lockdown eases in some places and a few can get back to work or run their small businesses in their villages. The focus has shifted to those that are in dire straits, with no source of income and sustenance. We also wanted to find out how the migrants were doing, that had got back home. We made over 500+ phone calls to those in Navi Mumbai who we had helped and those migrants that were now in their villages. Most of the migrants said that they were happy to overcome the crisis with family, but that they had no purchasing power or work other than the fields which did not give them much cash flow for other essential items, hence returning back to the city was inevitable. They were awaiting calls to return from their city-based "mukadam" (supervisors) or as most of them said, they would come after the harvest, but also would be watching the virus threat in the city and travel back accordingly. There has been the other situation in Navi Mumbai too, wherein, those that can manage now, are also taking the opportunity to receive aid. Many seem to be either hoarding ration stock or selling it back to the shops. Understanding this situation, we have been doing an extensive study to find out those that are in dire need and those that belong to this hoarding group. We have devised a system wherein we identify, follow up, and double-check the needy by visits, phone calls, assessing from the neighbourhood, shops, or locals.

We have been vexed with the question, Now what next? There cannot be a food aid relief going on and on. Hence we had begun searching what are the entrepreneurial, income-generating activities in the village economic system that these needy families can take up, get trained in doing business, or pick up a skill that would help them get an income and manage their sustenance. Many have felt the need of getting a job. This is difficult in the given circumstances. Various large food stores, eg. D-Mart, Reliance fresh, etc are looking at hiring rack and cashier staff, the minimum qualification required is Class X pass. We have 15 of the young mothers of our Oratory children or Don Bosco Skill training development services who have enrolled for the Class X -National Indian Open School (NIOS) System. There has been a constant search by us, for skill training centers and schemes that would help this marginalized pick up a skill and Learn-to-Earn system. We have begun sourcing Govt. schemes, CSR training of corporates and foundations that provide skill training programs for getting employment or self-employment, eg. Sourcing out schemes for the physically challenged. Children’s education, etc. We have continued supporting with food ration, those we found in dire need, the physically challenged, Individual families, Orphanages, Villages with families with no income, certain Poverty groups like roadside vendors with no business, security personnel, rickshaw drivers, commercial sex workers, maids, abandoned families on the road due to non-payment of rents, etc.