Chennai NGO helps guest workers find a shelter, go back home | Chennai News

CHENNAI: Vishal, an 18-year-old from Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district, is a guest worker employed at a wire making unit in Gummidipoondi. Since the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown, one of the things he missed, was the love and nourishment of his mother’s food. And now, thanks to city NGO Bhoomika Trust, Vishal is back where he wanted to be, along with thousands of guest workers in the city who have found the ticket back home through the organisation.
Since the lockdown began in March, Bhoomika Trust has distributed close to one lakh food packets, and also provided ration kits to guest workers in the city, until they either left for their native towns or found new jobs to sustain them.
“I came to Chennai from Aurangabad after the contractor told me that I could earn 4,000 more than what I was making there. But after the lockdown, I was stuck in the city and missed the train to my hometown twice. That is when I learned about the NGO and contacted them,” said Vishal, who left home for Jharkhand on June 7.
Among the workers who decided to stay back in Chennai to earn are Sujon, a construction worker and Swapan, a carpenter – both from West Bengal. “We both had some savings left and used it to stay in a shelter. Bhoomika Trust helped us with food and ration through the course of the lockdown. And now we have started working again,” said Sujon, who works in Tiruvallur.
“Soon after the lockdown started, we came to know about the situation of guest workers in Chennai and its neighbouring districts. The first thing we thought of was to get Hindi-speaking volunteers to interact with these workers. We were able to appoint 100 such volunteers, who collated details about these workers through an app,” said Aruna Subramanian, managing trustee of the NGO.
Once word about their work spread, the number of calls to their helpline increased. “When a guest worker reached out to us, we would check his Aadhaar Card details and contact him with food and ration kits. His name would be registered with the local police station, and when a train was to leave Chennai, the police would inform them and a vehicle arranged to take them to Chennai Central,” said the Trust’s advisory board member Latha Subramanian.
The NGO which has been helping vulnerable communities since the 2004 Tsunami, is now working with people with disabilities by providing ration kits, at a time when many of them have been out of work due to the lockdown.

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