After the country announced a complete lockdown in March following the outbreak of Coronavirus, it posed a daunting challenge for a large number of front liners, migrant workers, daily wagers, and animals to survive its impact on their health (physical, mental and emotional), and finances. The need of the hour was for people to reach out to them in whatever way they could.
Mumbai which is currently one of the major hotspots of the outbreak in India, saw an enormous movement of migrant populations since the government issued transport guidelines for stranded workers.
On witnessing the heart-aching conditions of thousands of migrants wearily waiting in queues spanning kilometres at various railway and bus stations, and travelling interstate in trucks, and on trailers, Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care’s volunteer network across Mumbai immediately stepped in to prepare and deliver nutritious food packets to these migrants in transit.
Inspired by its founder Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai, Shrimad Rajchandra, Love and Care (SRLC) has been extensively carrying out 360 degree initiatives to support and protect all these affected communities, through its volunteer network of thousands in over 50 cities globally.
On 16 May 2020, in Mumbai, over 25,000 theplas (flatbreads) were prepared in less than five hours and distributed among the groups of migrants queued up at multiple areas in the city.
Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care initiative called the ‘Circle of Love and Care’ further amassed more support from Mumbaikars across the city, and in just 12 days, they successfully distributed 10 lakh fresh home-cooked theplas along with 125 lakh packs of biscuits and snacks along with one lakh bottles of packed beverages like fruit juices, buttermilk and water, thereby feeding over five lakh migrants across Mumbai. All this while strictly maintaining social distancing and sanitary norms.
To emotionally support these migrants, Mumbaikars also began writing heartening messages on each packet. Owing to the systematic coordination, volunteers have reached out to railway and bus stations, major interstate check points, toll nakas and transit areas including CSMT Worli, Sion, Kurla, Borivali, Dahisar, Thane, Kalyan, Bhayandar, etc.
On witnessing the extensive and instant relief being provided; BMC officials, local police stations, government personnel and Tehsildars often approach SRLC for immediate support. For instance, recently, a trailer with over 70 famished migrant workers and children headed to West Bengal, was identified at Dahisar Checkpoint. When informed by the police personnel, SRLC volunteers hurried to the site with food packets within just two hours.
One night, BMC officials sought the support of SRLC to feed over 1500 starved migrants at CST station. Volunteers immediately made an interim arrangement of biscuit packets for two hours, until the BMC kitchen prepared cooked meals. Railway officers have also been updating the SRLC coordinator about scheduled and delayed trains in order to help support timely provision of home cooked food to the migrants waiting for trains.
“It is the collective passion and commitment of every volunteer that makes our initiatives possible in such a short turnaround time. Our founder and spiritual mentor, Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai tells us that there are three ingredients to service: the sincere intent to serve, the power of community spirit and divine help. And the Circle of Love and Care is undoubtedly driven by these factors.” SRLC has thus become a strong bridge between the Mumbaikars and migrant workers, uniting scores of city dwellers in a common spirit of selfless service.