02 Jul 2020 15:00 IST

IIMA students pitch in to help daily wagers during lockdown

Volunteers aid low-income families and migrant workers with ration kits, financial aid, community kitchens

A group of faculty, students, researchers and staff at IIM Ahmedabad have formed a team of over 80 volunteers to help the low-income families and migrant workers who were adversely affected by the lockdown, as part of its outreach efforts. Till date, the team has aided more than 2,300 families and more than 800 migrant workers by providing ration kits, financial aid, supporting community kitchens and helping migrants reach their hometown, says a press release from the B-school.

Due to the lockdown, many poor households, mostly those dependent on daily wages, were out of income and rations. A large number of people struggled to survive amidst the crisis. IIMA has always been active in giving back to society, says the release, and this time was no exception. The goal of this relief work was to reach out to those falling through the cracks of government and other civil societies’ efforts.

Systematic approach

The team carried out the relief work in a systematic approach in order to provide help to those who need it the most. The team surveyed the poor households which they have worked with previously via IIMA student societies – Prayaas, Student-Mediated Initiative for Learning to Excel (SMILE) and Right to Education Resource Centre (RTERC), which work for the education of underprivileged children and upliftment of underprivileged communities.

Based on these surveys, households were divided into four categories based on the urgency of need. The survey also indicated that about 85 per cent of the households were not earning a regular income, about 54 per cent households had reduced the number of meals consumed per day and many had difficulties in procurement of ration via PDS. The data collected from the survey helped identify the specific problems faced by the households and the number and location of households which needed help the most and this was used for planning the relief work.

 

More than 550 ration kits were distributed to different households over a period of two months. These distributions were made with the help of security guards of IIMA living near these areas and 30-plus motivated individual volunteers. The volunteers ensured safety by using masks, gloves, sanitizers and maintained social distancing. At the places where direct ration kits couldn’t be supplied, money was either transferred directly to the accounts of the families or it was given to the nearby ration shop from which families could then obtain ration free of cost. About ₹ 2.3 lakh were sent directly to households to aid them, in this manner.

Raising funds

The team was also swift in assisting the migrant workers. Within two days of the lockdown, volunteers supported a community worker Ajaz Sheikh, to help map out clusters of worksites where migrant workers were stranded without any food or income and raising funds to help support families. Over 252 families were identified in the eastern part of the city and funds were raised to support them with the help of local police. These efforts led to the creation of community kitchens used by around 4,000 workers and supported by Janvikas, InfoAnalytica Foundation and the Ahmedabad Project. The IIM team helped do the back-end work of geo-tagging the places, as the volunteers reported on WhatsApp, making it easier to deliver cooked food every day for 45 days. The team also helped in setting up a community kitchen in Narol, for 90 labourers from Jharkhand for a month.

A total of about ₹14 lakh was raised for the entire work through different channels. The major contributions were by the IIMA staff and IIMA community. A fundraising campaign was also launched on crowdfunding platform Ketto.org and about ₹3 lakh were raised from the same. An online workshop conducted by an IIMA Alumnus also raised about ₹1.2 lakh, says the press release.

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