The ongoing lockdown, imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19, has not only affected migrants, but their children as well.
Ratan Kumar (31), hailing from Bihar's Purnia district, is counting days left to go back to his hometown. Despite having a confirmed ticket for June 10, his joy of going back home was short lived. Kumar recently got to know that his daughter Sakshi was thrown out of school, as his family was unable to pay her fees for the last two months. "I haven't earned a rupee since March, as all our businesses were closed. Somehow, I managed to remit them some money, as I am the only earning member of the family," Kumar told the Free Press Journal. Meanwhile, the school administration reached out to the family and said that their daughter wouldn’t be allowed to attend school anymore, unless they paid the outstanding fees.
The 11-year-old performed well academically and aspires to become a doctor. The fact that she won't be able to go to school anymore has already left her depressed. "My wife tried to meet the school management and convince them. However, they were unresponsive," states the dismayed father.
The lockdown has also taken a toll on the health of these children, as their parents are unable to make ends meet. Ravi Yadav (37) is stuck in Mumbai with his wife and 8-year-old daughter. A resident of Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur, Yadav used to work at a manufacturing firm in Malvani. After surviving for more than 70 days into the lockdown, Yadav's savings are almost over and the couple has already started cutting their meals to feed their children. "My wife and I have only one meal every day. Somehow, we are managing to provide three meals for our daughter. Our situation is really grave now and we don't know how long we will survive," he said.
As the pandemic rages, the most vulnerable section of the society -migrants and their children-
stare at an uncertain future.
Jharkhand's Asim (46) used to work at a city hotel as a cook. He has three children, aged 10, 8 and 7 years. As his hotel is out of business, Asim has been unable to send money to his family for the last three months. "The future appears bleak for my family. Our children aren't getting to eat their food on time and the youngest one has fallen severely ill," he said. "We have no money to treat my kid. We are surviving on food given to us by our neighbours," he added.
There has been an aggressive exodus of labourers in parts of the country and many have been able to reach their hometown. However, the children of those who didn't continue to suffer.
"My son is calling me everyday and asking when I will be back home. In our village, many of the workers who live outside have come back and he is seeing them play with their father. It upsets him a lot," said Arun Patel, a worker from Madhya Pradesh. "Meanwhile, I can't assure him when I will be back, as I don’t have a confirmed ticket," he added.