One year of COVID-19 pandemic: How Navi Mumbai's SEWA Foundation emerged as saviour for migrant workers during lockdown

Rajesh Shrivastava, who runs Desi Taste, a restaurant known for North Indian food in Kharghar had turned his hotel into Janta Rasoi to provide food to migrant workers free of cost after the lockdown was imposed across the country on March 24, 2020, due to out the outbreak of COVID 19. He suffered huge losses as there was no business during the lockdown and he was providing food free of cost.

One year of COVID-19 pandemic: How Navi Mumbai's SEWA Foundation emerged as saviour for migrant workers during lockdown

After a year of the lockdown, Shrivastava says that he was just recovering from the losses and the sudden rise in active cases of coronavirus saddened him.

“It’s not possible to go through the pain again apart from monetary loss, it has also impacted his lives on many ways,” he says, adding that the business is as much as it was before the lockdown.

One year of COVID-19 pandemic: How Navi Mumbai's SEWA Foundation emerged as saviour for migrant workers during lockdown

He remembers when there was a complete closure due to lockdown, he was sitting the half-closed door of his restaurant in Kharghar idle when a woman with a six months old baby in her lap, and around 6 years old mute daughter came at his hotel for food. “It was a heartbreaking moment for me. I asked her to wait and provided her with some groceries from my hotel,” said Shrivastava, adding that he decided to feed some needy migrants as the lockdown was initially only for 21 days.

However, the lockdown was extended multiple times and then Shrivastava who is also president of SEWA Foundation, an NGO which works for the poor decided to feed the needy and migrants. “I got support from my friends who help even though they were in a difficult situation,” said Shrivastava.

One year of COVID-19 pandemic: How Navi Mumbai's SEWA Foundation emerged as saviour for migrant workers during lockdown

“Ramesh Khanaa, 27, an autorickshaw driver used his rickshaw to carry foods to the needy without any charges. Captain Amitabh Srivastava provided monetary support while Hari Om transport provided vehicles,” said Shrivastava. He added that when train services resumed to ferry migrants’ workers, they provided food for around 250 families taken shelter under a flyover in Kharghar after their train was canceled for two days.

Soon his hotel premise was made a relief centre by Bihar government and they started distributing around 2,000-2,500 packets of food.

However, after a year of the lockdown, Shrivastava prays that there should not be another lockdown. “I incurred huge loss as hotel business severely impacted due to outbreak of coronavirus. My business is now coming on track and the news of rising number of active cases is haunting the sad days of lockdown,” said Shrivastava.

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