Supporting migrant workers in distress

Bhoomika Trust launched the ‘Food First’ initiative to ensure that daily wage earners had enough to eat during COVID-19 regulations. To reach out to the maximum affected people, the team worked closely with the Government channels to ensure that disadvantaged communities had enough to eat and access personal hygiene kits.

The Trust’s initiative came as a big relief for migrants and the daily wage earners, auto drivers, electricians, painters, plumbers, construction workers, and women who work as domestic help in houses. The team was able to reach over 95,000 migrant and daily wage earners since the lockdown.

Aruna Subramaniam from Bhoomika Trust says, “Perumbakkam Slum Clearance Board Housing, a resettlement colony in the outskirts of Chennai, has over 15000 families and, from April 2020,most have been without jobs. Security guards have not been paid, and domestic helpers have received a small portion of salary or none.”

The Bhoomika team quickly reached out to the residents, networked with the association members, slum clearance board officials, block development officers, tahsildar, and started distributing ration kits supported by the Wipro Foundation grant.

Aruna says, “Many blocks were barricaded as containment blocks. With a lot of pre-planning to avoid crowding, our team interacted with the block presidents and handed over the kits to select representatives in each block over one week. We also distributed sanitation kits with reusable face masks, and soaps and detergent.”

The Trust has a strong connection to this area post-Chennai floods, having built a school earlier for high school students. At present, the team is also working on building an 18000 ft primary school expected to be ready by January 2021.

Aruna says, “The young children here have been using the housing blocks as a school. But the blocks are tiny, making it an ordeal for the teachers and the students to work comfortably.”

Bhoomika Trust is also working on a pilot program that involves working with a cohort of children in each of the blocks. Remote volunteers connect primarily through smartphones, creating physical resources to facilitate peer learning.

Team Bhoomika also played a critical role in connecting with tens of thousands of migrants, specifically from Jharkhand and West Bengal. The team coordinated their travel back home on the Shramik special trains.

The volunteers identified their locations, collected their details, and worked with Greater Chennai Corporation to bring them to the station where the Trust distributed sanitation kits and food packets to migrants traveling on the train.

Aruna says, “We’ll soon be starting an employment and skill mapping initiative in Perumbakkam to further understand the impact and ideate on solutions with other stakeholders, as the Trust is looking to work on livelihood solutions.”

You can reach out to Bhoomika Trust at