A collaborative effort of a youth collective, started by graduates of the University of Delhi (DU) has aided deprived and underprivileged workers and their families that were affected by the lockdown repercussions by providing travel services, among many other things.
Four students from the batch of 2014 from Kirori Mal College, Delhi University, started a youth collective called ‘Janman‘ and partnered with another student-led initiative called, ‘Migrant Travel Support Group’ (MTSG) to provide for ration, travel services, and other basic amenities in Delhi and several other states through crowdfunding, to help those who have been hit hard and worse by the spread of the virus and lockdown policies.
On 2nd April 2020, Janman started at a very small scale to help those who relied on daily wages and contractual labour, and lost their jobs due to the pandemic, by providing dry ration to them and seva kits which had glucose biscuits and juice which was distributed at borders of Delhi. On 18th May 2020, they joined forces with MTSG which is also an initiative started by Delhi University graduates which consequently helped in sending approximately 5,100 stranded migrants from Delhi to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal up until recently.
One of the co-founders of both Janman and MTSG, Shourya Roy who is a DU alumnus spoke briefly about this initiative to DU Beat and said, “The youth collective provides a space to those who lack platforms after they venture into their personal and professional lives so that they can continue their spirit of community service.” He further added, “When lockdown started, we began reaching out humbly, but with stretch in lockdown, we too progressed in collaborating and now are operating in seven states like Maharashtra, Delhi, Bihar, and others.” When asked about the cost incurred, Roy suggested a rough figure of INR 1,00,000 for one bus, along with which they also serve food packets for the journey and some dry ration if possible to the extremely needy ones.
All of their finances were handled through crowdfunding, which was challenging initially as told by Shourya. Making people understand what they were doing was not easy, but they came around with time, and a swift collaboration with MSTG also rendered huge support in this endeavour.
While talking about how the collective connects with those who need help, Sheetal Anns Philip who handles the Social Media for Janman told DU Beat that, “We have put up a phone number which has been circulated through which we get calls from people who need our help in boarding trains or buses so that they can go back home. We have volunteers who work on and off the field to render services.”
However, two of their volunteers tested positive for Coronavirus, one on 5th June 2020, and another on 25th June 2020, who were working on the field, after which all the members went through COVID-19 tests and they had to put a temporary halt on the outdoor volunteering. Yogesh Gupta, who works on the field, shared the reason for his motivation to work and the challenges he faced while working, with DU Beat. “We ensure social distancing at all times, wear masks, basic safety gear, and gloves while working. I live with family, and senior citizens are very susceptible of getting the virus, but what keeps me motivated is the sense of relief that I see on the faces of those who we are able to help, and it surpasses all the excuses and reasons that we have to cook back at our homes so that we can work on the field.”
Along with successfully deporting migrants the collective also dispenses amenities of other kinds as well. Roy talked about the collective’s partnering with other groups, where they provided sanitary napkins, soaps, shampoos, and face masks to Amphan when the cyclone hit, and to Assam when the oil spill tragedy happened. They are said to have collaborated with ‘Asmi‘ to even provide mental health wellness sessions in such times of distress and tension. Their animal drive in the first phase of the lockdown provided food to stray dogs and monkeys all over Delhi. They supplied milk for toddlers and biscuits for infants by collaborating with local Anganwadi and also partnered with Woodpecker’s Initiative to manufacture facemasks and distributed it to fruit and vegetable vendors.
Feature image credits: Facebook of Janman