Migrant workers Society

COVID-19: Foot soldiers get a step up

Migrant workers on a tipper lorry at Medchal

Migrant workers on a tipper lorry at Medchal

The moving images, the anguished voices and the painful stories did the trick. As the migrant workers’ crisis burst into the national consciousness in the middle of May, Mukti Bosco and her friend Sujata Rao decided to see it for themselves. They reached Medchal, just beyond the Outer Ring Road, to see a humanitarian crisis unfold as women, children and men kept arriving with luggage, all set to go to their home towns. Mukti Bosco, who runs the Healing Fields Foundation began working the numbers.

The team of Healing Fields, Mukti Bosco, Bosco Malapati, Shreya Reddy, Sujata Rao with a team member

The team of Healing Fields, Mukti Bosco, Bosco Malapati, Shreya Reddy, Sujata Rao with a team member

She says: “We wanted to see the reality after we saw a news report of a migrant labourer who delivered a baby on the road in Delhi, and resumed walking to her destination, carrying her baby, just two hours later. Here, when we reached Medchal, we were shocked to see the plight of the people. Scenes of these workers queueing up near tipper trucks with wads of small notes in hand, were common.

Migrant workers registering with Healing fields team for their trips to different place

Migrant workers registering with Healing fields team for their trips to different place

Mukti’s team immediately swung into action, with help from Sujata Rao, a former Indian Administrative Service officer. In the first few days, the team was able to arrange six buses to send people home to Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. They also took care of first aid, food, water and masks. Then it was time to stop people from getting onto the tipper lorries with no safety whatsoever. “Then Shweta Reddy — the SP of Kamareddy – arranged a meeting with bus drivers. We negotiated the price and were ready to roll,” says Mukti.

Footwear arranged for migrant workers

Footwear arranged for migrant workers

To get it all started, Mukti put in ₹10 lakhs from Healing Fields Foundation, then called for crowd funding from friends and family. “We wanted them to go home in dignity, not in unsafe overloaded trucks. The money they had paid the truck drivers had come from their respective homes as ‘hand loans’ at high interest rate. With the help of police, we got the money they had paid to the tipper drivers, and returned it to them,” adds Mukti.

Workers disembarked from trucks by police to be sent in buses arranged by Healing fields

Workers disembarked from trucks by police to be sent in buses arranged by Healing fields

Once the team chalked out a plan for the journey home, they worked on creating quarantine centres for the workers, at the destination. “Since we have community health workers in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, it wasn’t a big issue. The places where we didn’t have a presence, we partnered with community health leaders. Our teams in these centres were ready with the necessary arrangements to quarantine them. I must mention that Aruna Bahuguna swung into action and provided footwear for hundreds of migrant workers. It was painful to see people walk with blisters and with broken footwear. So when we made an appeal, Aruna arranged it for us,” informs Mukti.

To make it easy for them to function, the team camped at Kamareddy for two weeks, keeping in mind their safety. “At the end of the two weeks we had successfully sent more than 2500 workers in 47 buses. We tracked them until they reached their destination. Now we want to create a system to ensure the migrant workers don’t go through what they did, again. It is a moment of joy for us when they shared photographs from their home to show they are back with their loved ones,” says Mukti.


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Aug 13, 2022 2:43:03 am | https://www.thehindu.com/society/healing-fields-successfully-sent-2500-migrant-workers-to-their-home-town/article31842430.ece