In the villages of Anand where foodkits were distributed, the community mainly comprises of OBC, Dalit and Muslim families. The main occupation in this village is of rickshaw drivers, the unorganised sector of women working from home (making incense, cotton wool and kites), small farmers who used to grow small amounts of vegetables can no longer sell their produce and are therefore not able to earn any money. In addition, there are many widowed women without children to support them and those with long-term illnesses, unable to work and make a living.
In Anand, the total number of active Covid-19 cases has reached 5, with 10 deaths and the full lockdown was operational in the rural areas of Anand. We have distributed kits to 17 villages and we tried to identify the most vulnerable in the villages.
Here we have been extremely fortunate to work with our long-term volunteers Dipsing Chauhan and Ranjan Yadav and our current team of Advocates Gopalbhai and Bhavanaben. Our Anand team have reached all existing survivors of POCSO and Domestic Violence cases which are geographically spread across several villages. We have also been able to identify the most vulnerable and needy in villages where our volunteers and activists live or have worked with local communities for many years.
In Finaw village, it has been some 3 years since a scheduled caste community suffered a social and economical boycott. There was an incident between the ‘higher’ and scheduled caste villagers where, historically, the scheduled caste community were dependent on the ‘higher’ caste for work as labourers in their farms and fields. A caste conflict led to all the agricultural laborers from the scheduled caste community being socially-economically boycotted from working on the farms of the land-owning community. Subsequently, they managed to get some work from MNREGGA Scheme with the support of local NGOs but the MNREGGA Scheme has not yet been activated in this village during lockdown.
In the village of Finaw, we distributed more foodkits following on from the previous distribution to the 26 boycotted families in May, as this village and its people have been hard hit through the social and economic and social boycott that still remains prevalent in this village.
Navinbhai (name changed) is 90% immobilised and struggling under the boycott conditions. He lives with his elderly mother and brother who is unmarried. When the lockdown began, his brother, who supports their family stopped getting paid. Although they received government rations, this was not sufficient and they did not have enough food. Prior to the lockdown, when the MNREGGA scheme was in place, disabled people were given jobs where they could go around the farming fields to give water to the labourers, so our activists are working to get these schemes restarted again. In the boycott, they are meant to be supported, but our activists have found that this has fallen short for many. We are currently working with a disability rights activist to train our activists and volunteers to access all the government schemes.