Coronavirus in Mumbai: St Stanislaus High School provides shelter to migrants

Around 21 migrant workers who were criticised by the public for gathering at Bandra west railway station are now being provided food, shelter, sanitation facilities and a source of livelihood for free at St Stanislaus High School, Bandra west. These labourers are staying at the Migrant Workers' Relief Camp since April 19 as they had nowhere to go because nobody was willing to provide them shelter after the mob gathering incident.

At present, 17 male and four female workers are being provided daily meals, drinking water, beds, mattresses, sanitation and bathing facilities along with regular medical check-ups in this camp. Fr Frazer Mascarenhas, manager of St Stanislaus School, said, "We are using the vacant hall space of our school for this camp. We are providing beds, bedsheets and mattresses. Our school canteen staff has volunteered to cook daily meals for these migrant workers. The BMC officers are sanitising the premises and conducting regular health check-ups."

Due to the nationwide lockdown amidst the coronavirus pandemic, these migrant workers, labourers and daily wagers have lost their source of income because their construction projects are halted. Fr Felix D'Souza, the school supervisor managing this project, said, "We conducted some volunteer recreational activities as the workers were bored sitting inside the camp. So then, we started making masks and face shields and now it is like a small cottage industry. We are making almost 50 to 500 masks and shields every day for frontline workers. The money earned by each worker through this project will be given to them when they leave."

Following the gathering of thousands of migrant workers on April 14 at Bandra railway station, nobody was willing to help or provide shelter to these workers. Vaqar Javeed Hafiz, execuitve engineer of BMC H west Bandra ward, said, "Nobody was ready to provide shelter to these workers initially as they were part of the huge gathering at Bandra station. But now, these same workers are contributing and helping in the battle against the spread of COVID-19."

This relief camp, started by the Archdiocese of Bombay and BMC with the help of several voluntary NGOs, can accommodate 125 people in need till the lockdown is lifted. Fr Mascarenhas said, "Anyone who is in need, wishes to volunteer or donate can approach us."

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