Coronavirus lockdown | In Rajasthan, migrant workers repair and paint government school that sheltered them

The Government Senior Secondary School at Palsana was turned into a temporary shelter, and 54 daily wage earners, who could not return home, were housed in it.

Published - April 23, 2020 12:22 am IST - Jaipur

A new bond:  The team at work in the school near Sikar, brightening up the main building.

A new bond: The team at work in the school near Sikar, brightening up the main building.

It was a labour of love in the midst of the lockdown. Migrant workers from multiple States quarantined in a government school at Palsana in Rajasthan’s Sikar district decided to give something back to the community that was taking care of them. They repaired and painted the school building.

The Government Senior Secondary School at Palsana, 28 km away from Sikar, was turned into a temporary shelter, and 54 daily wage earners from the local units, who could not return home, were housed in it. The workers belong to Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, while four are from other districts of Rajasthan.

Full coverage | Lockdown displaces lakhs of migrants

Though none had COVID-19 symptoms, the panchayat asked them to complete the 14-day quarantine period in the school. Food and medical assistance were arranged.

Palsana Naib Tehsildar Vipul Chaudhary told The Hindu on Wednesday that the labourers were surprised at the hospitality. Good food and essential items were offered readily. Medical teams from the block headquarters visited them for a regular check-up.

Decade old structure

The workers could not help noticing that the old school building, which had not been painted for a decade, was in bad shape and the premises could do with a clean-up. They offered to deploy their skills, to paint and repair the building, clean up the compound, and plant samplings.

Buckets of paint, brushes, polish and tools came through a fund-raiser by the teachers, panchayat staff and villagers. Shankar Singh Chauhan from Haryana, a painter, led the team while Tara Chand, Om Prakash and others took up repairs.

The workers wanted to do something for the village which cared for them in a crisis, when they were emotionally shattered and had no money. “It is also in our nature to work hard. Sitting idle would have been a waste of time and energy,” Mr. Chauhan said.

Palsana Sarpanch Roop Singh Shekhawat said the school’s alumni campaigned to raise funds for the infrastructure and collected ₹1.15 lakh.

“The money is funding repairs. The villagers are overwhelmed by the gesture of the labourers,” he said.

The panchayat would organise a felicitation for the workers when they leave after the lockdown. Sikar-based activist Ashfaq Kayamkhani said.

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