Mumbai: Youth turn community workers, distribute ration kits

In an attempt to combat hunger amid lockdown woes, over 50 youngsters are serving as community workers to help distribute ration and sanitary kits to households in slum settlements at Shivaji Nagar in Govandi. These young workers, who are residents of Shivaji Nagar, are participating in the Covid relief drive through Apnalaya, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), that works towards enabling and empowering the poor.

Till date, 5,205 ration and sanitary kits have been distributed to 4,968 households, benefitting over 24,840 residents of Shivaji Nagar, as per the data from Apnalaya. In addition, the M-east ward which has a dense slum settlement in the city, comprising of areas like Chembur, Mankhurd, Govandi, Deonar and Trombay. They have a population of 8,07,720 as per the BMC records. So far; the M-East Municipal ward office has been provided with 7,000 sanitisers and 4,800 masks by the NGO.

Safiya Shaikh, a 21-year-old community worker and resident of Shivaji Nagar, said, “I want to help in my own way and what better place to start than in my own locality. We begin the drive at 7am and get bulk ration supply from the NGO. First, we pack the supplies in bags. Then we make a list of all the items and note down the families where the ration has to be distributed. We then go door-to-door to distribute the ration kits.”

Assistant project supervisor at Apnalaya, Afzal Ansari, said, “The ration kit comprise of 5kg wheat flour, 3kg rice and wheat, 2kg sugar, packets of pulses, spices, tea, salt, oil, soap and detergents. We also provide sanitary pads. We have over 50 community workers who are residents of Shivaji Nagar.”

Aftab Shaikh, a 39-year-old resident of Shivaji Nagar, said, "I work as a daily wager but due to the lockdown, I am not getting any work. My wife lost her job too. I have two children, I need to feed them and support their education but, I am unable to buy basic grocery due to financial crisis. I am glad there is some support due to the ration distribution."

Arun Kumar, CEO of Apnalaya, said, “There are over 25.3 per cent people in the the 13 slum households of Shivaji Nagar that do not have a ration card so they cannot avail of the relief measures provided by the state government. Out of this, nearly 60 per cent are working population mainly daily wagers who do not have a source of income due to lockdown. We are providing relief based on funds raised and we aim to provide ration and sanitary kits to 17,452 households by June-end.”

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