B’luru Northeastern Community Opens Hearts & Homes During Lockdown
From donating money to offering homes to strangers amid lockdown, the northeastern community is standing together.
Walter, 27, was at a loss for what to do after the mall in Malleshwaram, where he works as a fashion assistant, asked him not to come to work in the foreseeable future due to the nationwide lockdown to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
Walter has several expenses. His room’s rent is Rs 2,500 and a pending payment of dues at the restaurant across the road from his paying guest accommodation. On call with The Quint, he said, “I have not been paid for February and obviously, March, but that too half a month, as they won’t pay us for when the mall is closed.”
With no place to go, Walter turned to Bangalore Mizo Joint Committee on Covid-19, which was formed to help members of the community in the wake of flights being grounded and loss of income. Within hours, Walter received Rs 1,000 in his account.
“It was such a life-safer for me. I was penniless and that money helped me stock up with 5 kg of rice, some dal and other stuff I could use to cook on my own. Somehow, I was am able to survive now. I don’t eat a lot. I just want to start working again, I feel helpless now.”Walter
Not just Walter, Banglore Mizo Joint Committee on Covid -19, comprising smaller student and Church-driven collectives, is extending support to those affected by the situation at hand in many ways, from giving money to those out of work to providing accommodation to the youth and opening their homes to those in need.
Opening Their Homes to Those in Need
Two students from Bengaluru, stranded at Kolkata Airport on their way back to Mizoram earlier this month, had no option but to return to the city.
Lalrindika, a 27-year-old working at an insurance brokerage firm, elucidated that some of his friends had taken in strangers who have nowhere else to go.
“For the last week or so, they have been staying with a friend of mine. They did not know each other before this but now we have to stay together. They came here because their PGs were closed by then,” he said.
Dintea, secretary of Bangalore Mizo Association, said they are trying to help whoever reaches out to them, in cash or kind. Using funds of the association as well as donations from northeast community’s leaders and individuals, has helped them put together enough money.
Having collected and distributed about Rs 60-70,000 till now, Dintea said everything from donations to beneficiaries is kept as anonymous as possible.
“We asked everyone to report themselves who had face any trouble regarding food, accommodation, racism faced by the Mizo people who are in Bangalore and its surroundings. The problem we are facing as a joint committee is transportation and accommodation for the needy. Our Mizo house is full, so we have asked for help from friends and members of the community,” Dintea said
Rini, coordinator of the Northeastern Solidarity group, the largest community for northeastern people in the city, said that most of the requests were for food provisions. “Some want cooked food, while others are happy with rice and grains. We have tied up with the police and with donations from many of our members, we are able to deliver provisions to over 700 people daily,” she said.
‘Get About 50 Calls a Day’
From answering questions about cancelled flight tickets to helping arrange food for stranded students and young professionals, Rini said a list has been prepared including those who need support in the city.
“We have made a list of people based on their locations and there are three so far. These are mainly young professionals. People have been helping us a lot. The other day I got a Malayali man who gave us 150 kg of rice, 75 kg of sugar and 75 kg of dal and we are also collecting from our neighbours and friends,” she said.
Joshi Srinath Mahadev, the nodal officer for the northeastern community in Bengaluru, said that efforts are being made to geo-tag the locations of everyone who need help till the lockdown is lifted.
“The community is very spread out at the moment so we want to get everyone mapped so we know exactly how many people are there and how many in one place. We are using government rations as well as relying on donations. We have created a WhatsApp so that they can reach me at any time,” he said.
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