The province of Mumbai released a newsletter comprising details of surveys and work being done with the Migrants Desk program across the various target areas, for the most marginalized and neglected groups of migrant workers. The survey was conducted through desks based in Ahmednagar, Baroda, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Nashik, and Pune for a total of 2770 migrants who responded to the survey. The largest number of respondents were between 18 to 30 years, and a few between 30 and 35 years old.
The survey produced percentages and numbers of migrants under various categories i.e – employment type, monthly earnings, schooling, vocational training, marriage etc. These findings led to certain observations and concluded that migrant construction workers are a young and hardy population. However, along with their children, they tend to be socially and educationally disadvantaged because of frequent migration across construction sites. To this end interventions were suggested based on the data, specifically for migrants working in the construction sector. They included – Obtaining or providing transferable ration cards; Providing basic education to children; Instruction for young mothers in child-care practices; Opening bank accounts; Provision for medical treatment; Upgrading skills at construction sites; Education in hygienic practices, to name a few. These are some of the small initiatives that were proposed for NGOs and private players to undertake to make a difference to this vibrant but disadvantaged population.
The Migrant Desks set up in the various areas in the Maharashtra province catered to the specific needs of that area. The interventions included – awareness sessions on various government schemes and policies at various slum areas like the – ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ program., – held in Vadodara.
The Nashik desk started oratory classes in 5 locations for children who migrated with their families to brick kilns, roadside digging and construction sites. Around 125 children are being provided with basic education, health facilities, stationery, snacks and clothes on a regular basis, along with health and hygiene programs and the celebration of various festivals.
The Ahmednagar Migrant Desk has made numerous interventions to ease the tension caused by the loss of jobs and the COVID 19 pandemic by boldly reaching out to aid the mental health of the most marginalized and neglected.
The Nerul desk set up a Community fridge that reaches out to over 4200 people monthly with at least one meal a day. Along with this they reach out to ‘Marginalized Women’ and ‘Youth of Migrant Communities’ to complete their studies through the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).
With the help of the ‘Nirman’ institute Don Bosco Suraksha, Pune prepared a BOCW (Building and Other Construction Workers) Card to non-privilege laborers to help them avail of medical and financial help from the Government. The Pune Desk also took the help of local institutions like Shodh, Nirman, Matruchhaya, Snehdeep, Samata, Feed, Seva-Sahyog in different localities to carry out tasks like – free eye check-ups and Cataract surgeries, creating documentation for their rights, Food / Grocery Distribution, institutional placement for training and jobs, Free Clothes Mall, Health Awareness Camps etc.
Nashik, by networking with other NGOs like Pravara Medical Trust and Disha Foundation, along with the generosity of benefactors were able to help strengthen their outreach and distributed dry ration and medical kits to needy migrant families and CSWs who were badly hit because of the pandemic.
The ‘Migrant Desks – Don Bosco for Migrants’ continues its work at a national level reaching out to these groups of people for whom neglect is an everyday reality. As can be seen by the successful survey, these people need constant care in numerous ways.
The Don Bosco Network in India comprises of 11 Planning and Development Organisations (PDOs), each dedicated to the development of the Salesian provinces they serve. The Don Bosco network is spread across 29 states and 354 NGOs, reaching more than 10 lakh people.
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