India – New Delhi:
On August 26th, Moon wrote: We sincerely hope that Covid 19 situation in USA is in control now. Sometime ago we heard that it is spreading more in the southern states. Indeed it is worrying, as the pattern of the transmission of Covid 19 virus goes ups and down in different parts of the world. You and your colleagues, families are in our thoughts and prayers.
We are thankful to you for your continuous work support, especially in these times, when the artisans did not have enough work. We hope that vaccine will be available soon so that people recover and life comes back to normalcy. It is very important for our sustainability. We also hope that the people there are taking social distancing seriously and are using masks. In India, it is compulsory now to wear the masks.
As you are aware, we are working, but the life in general continue to be disrupted. Due to the large population and the absence of social distancing at many places, it is proving difficult to control the virus transmission. The virus has also reached the small cities and in the rural areas. It happened due to the migration of workers/ labourers, who left the cities several weeks ago, having no work and means to survive in the city. Unfortunately, there was not enough control measures to check. Many of these workers were already infected, when they reached back to their home towns. The State governments are trying their best to take measures for the proper treatment and check the spread of the virus. However, it is still challenging situation at many parts of the country.
We have already crossed 3.23 million Corona cases and sadly more than 59600 people have died so far. At the same time the good news is that many people having mild symptoms are recovering. In Delhi, compared to last month, the situation is better, as the infection and death ratio has gone down. The experts feel that the peak is already there. Let us hope the curve will flatten soon.
The economy continues to be in turmoil and still a large segment of population continue to be without work. Businesses are also having hard times to sustain and survive. Many have closed down. In Delhi, the lockdown is relaxed now and we are able to go outside and drive. Shops are also opened. However, schools and colleges, Metro, inter-state transportation, 95% of the aviation and hotel industry remains close down. On weekends there are strict lockdowns in several States. Food and many other items, like fuel has also become more expensive now, making life more difficult for the common people. The artisan workshops are now working, though still partially, at a slower pace. For three days a week, the workshops are closed in Uttar Pradesh and in Haryana due to lockdown. We hope in September things will further relaxed, due to the continuous economic pressure. Some of our colleagues are still away due to the partial lockdowns and non availability of the transportation.
Delhi has now 716 red containment zones, that means these are selected areas where the Covid 19 patients are in home quarantine and nobody can enter or go outside from these lanes/ areas for a certain period. Presently, many of the infected patients continue to be home quarantined and are treating themselves by taking home remedies, hot water and anti fever tablets etc. Since, the medical treatment continues to be very expensive for common people, the State is encouraging them to stay at home. They are admitted in hospitals only when serious.
Our efforts to find work and provide relief to the artisans, and other beneficiaries continues. We are distributing raw food material and health kits on regular basis. Tara health care center continue to provide primary medical support to many members in need. Thanks to the community health team for continuously helping in the field at the grassroots level.
To further help the artisans we continue to make cotton masks for some of the partners as well as for the distribution in the community. It has given much needed work to several artisans.
On June 14th, Moon wrote: The situation in New Delhi / India (many other cities) continues to be worrisome. The densely populated cities and many other areas are affected. The situation is far from satisfactory. Mortality rate is increasing due to the non availability of medical treatment. Not easy to get admission in hospitals. There is also a serious shortage of oxygen facility. Unfortunately, we are expecting the hardest weeks ahead with the rapid surge of the Covid cases every day. We have crossed till today more than 333200 cases with 9500 deaths. There is hardly any space available in hospitals or at cremation grounds.
Looking at the grim situation, we are now thinking of adding an oxygen facility (pulse oximeter, oxygen concentrator and oxygen cylinders), in our health centre, in view of the shortage of oxygen available. Such a facility will help us in handling the emergency situation.
On May 13th, Sanjay wrote: Regarding COVID-19 situation in India, at present, we are in stage of third lockdown started from 4th May which will continue till 17th May.
As you are aware it is almost seven weeks that we continue to be in lockdown, confined to our homes. Due to not enough testing carried out in India so far, nobody knows where we stand in terms of the infection. In reality we do not know if the situation is under control! The state needs to conduct more rapid testing. We have crossed by now 70000 cases and more than 2300 people have died so far. As per the government we are still in a better situation compared to other countries in terms of mortality. But at the same time they are worried as they foresee a surge in the numbers in coming weeks/ months!
On 4th of May, our government has declared further extension of Lockdown for the next two weeks with some relaxations (the companies can open with 33% of their strength, for important / pending work). They have the opinion that the virus will continue to spread, as it is very difficult to have complete restrictions due to our large population. At the same time there is urgent need to open up the economy as millions of people have lost the jobs in the last several weeks and the situation is rather grim. The government also does not have enough means to support people. The fact is that we will have to learn to live with the virus. We will have to adapt to this reality while saving ourselves and moving on with daily life!! It is indeed worrying situation till is some permanent solution is found.
Unfortunately, Delhi state continue to be in red zone. Extended lockdown with slight relaxation is not going to change the situation for us. In general life remain paralysed on work front due to no transportation available to commute and closing of the inter-state borders. It is very difficult to work without transportation and not opening of the borders as well as the markets. No possibility to buy raw materials!! and travel from one place to other is not possible . Most of artisans and several colleagues live in the adjacent states. Therefore due to closure of the borders they are not be able to travel. In the city itself auto rickshaws, bus and metro service is also at halt. It is may be due to the danger of virus spread. In Uttar Pradesh State as well (where we have soapstone workshop, wooden workshop, glass workshop and several other jewellery workshops) is also in red zone and all the work is at halt. Not easy times for the artisan communities .
Huge economic setback! We all are fighting on two fronts. Continuous spread of Covid-19 each day and the loss of millions of jobs/ livelihood . The most difficult fact is that government is not in a position to support the small scale industry and we have no social security. Having no support from the government or enough relief, it is the big challenge for the companies and enterprises to sustain and survive. It is more serious when the countries in Europe and USA are themselves amidst of worst situation. It will take a long time when the trade will come back to its normal state. The coming weeks, months are going to be challenging for all of us.
Let’s just pray that there are no more deaths and no more fear in the world due to this deadly thing! (this sounds unrealistic at the moment, but again we need to be positive and hope for the best.
On April 19th, Moon wrote: Still worrying news from USA and Europe. We pray for the safety and good health of all. Governments have to try to develop Vaccine soon, otherwise things are becoming hopeless.
Since we had the last communication, we have entered in the second lockdown now, which will continue till 3rd of May. A few activities like agriculture, fishery etc will start as the government is under great pressure due to vast scale unemployment and no social security. Though the government has not declared and there are still fewer tests, it is becoming clearer that we may be entering in the third stage. Unless some miracle happens, we are going to have more challenging times ahead. Cases are increasing even having fewer tests. That shows virus in becoming more and more active. Will high temperatures will kill it!! Not sure..
We still continue to be closed. Of course it is a big worry to handle the fixed costs. Since government has no support for the industry and there is no social security, many companies are bound to close. Government make it mandatory for the companies to pay to workers and staff, so very crucial times ahead. Many artisans are also having very difficult times. No jobs, no income and the fear of Corona virus… very heartbreaking.. In the given circumstances we continue to run the community kitchen for the vulnerable. But our sources are very limited now.
Next 10 days we know where we stand…
On April 8th, Moon wrote (this is shortened, but not re-worded): Thank you for your whatsApp messages and concern. I was feeling a bit down so could not come earlier… Apologies..As writing this mail we feel very concerned about the critical situation in USA and some European countries. We wish courage and strength to those who are fighting for their lives in the hospitals and for the front liners, helping others by risking their own lives.
Here, so far we are safe. It is a very strange and frustrating experience to be confined in the homes. For many, it is suffocating, as people have to remain inside their small cramped houses. large families living in a very small space.
In mid March, we realised that situation was becoming serious. With not many cases, the government was a bit slow in its response. However, with the rise in cases, soon the government geared up. It all started with the imposition of curfew and a partial lockdown in many cities all over the country. After the curfew and introduction of section 144 (where no 5 persons can be together) on 22nd of March, the complete nationwide lockdown was declared by the govt. It is more than two weeks now that we all are confined to our homes. Our lives have changed overnight with the fear of uncertainty and insecurity. Complete lockdown in the country has brought many other hardships specially for the poor people. But lockdown seems to be the only solution in view of the poor and inadequate health infrastructure in India.
Delhi city and many others are under complete lockdown. Nobody is allowed to come out of their homes. Police is patrolling and can be very harsh if someone is caught outside. Still many unaware and radicals are breaking the rules. All the non-essential services have been closed. Only essential grocery, some vegetables shops, milk and chemists shops are allowed to open for few hours a day.
As you have mentioned too, one of the worst outcome of the situation has been the large exodus of poor daily wage earners/local migrants back to their villages. Due to their fragile socio-economic backgrounds and sudden loss of their jobs, it was difficult for them to understand the seriousness of the situation caused by the pandemic. I think government was not prepared to face this huge and unexpected scale of exodus.
Due to the situation changing we had to close our community actions the third week of March. However , our health center continued to work to support many patients till 24th of March. A very busy month for us with many new patients of viral fever and cold related infections. Many members and artisans were provided medical treatment and day care. We also organised several sessions for the members on the awareness and preventive measures to be taken. More than 100 doctors and health workers in other centers in Delhi developed symptoms of Corona and were found positive and are in quarantine now. Therefore, we had to temporarily close down our health center on 24th of March. .
Many hospitals have been converted into the Corona only hospitals. Usual patients with various diseases are no longer provided treatment. The hospitals do not have sufficient beds to cope with the pandemic. There is also the shortage of PPEs and the testing kits.
Few of our volunteers and community workers are still active in supporting the members and others in need. Community kitchens are being organised and food is distributed to the needy persons. Our volunteers are also helping in distributing surgical masks. It is a real spirit of solidarity and support as well as sharing with others.
We are trying our best to keep in touch through telephone, whatsApp calls and whatsApp groups. Our actions are limited as we ourselves have limited means. With no source of income at present and the closure of many small workshop and industry, many families have lost their source of livelihood and are suffering. Through the help of some friends we are able to support several needy people by organising community kitchen. For emergency medical support mutual health paramedic and doctor are available as and when required over the phone.
Very trying times ahead. Most of our work has been suspended and cancelled. There is uncertainty and hardly any work for the next several months in view of the difficult situation in Europe and USA. There is concern and we are not sure how we are going to survive. Coming months are going to be very crucial. It is an unimaginable situation as we never confronted such times before. All our colleagues are at home. Due to the nature of our work, it is not possible to work from home. Many small workshops and groups have already shutdown and many will disappear soon. Prices of the basic household items are also rising every other day..
With the current situation, it is expected that the lockdown may be extended (not sure till when !!). we are continuing our actions to support our community workers and producers to compensate for their loss of wages. It is going to take months to come back to our normal conditions.
Several cases of Covid 19 have been identified in our working areas. Many are in quarantine. We hope to work and support the authorities through and after the pandemic. It is a gigantic task for the government alone.
How is the situation at your end? Very worrying indeed, thinking of USA. Hope you, your family and friends are taking care. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Keep in touch. Stay safe and healthy.
On March 29th Moon wrote, “The last two weeks, several days were very strange and stressful… never experienced such times earlier… life came to standstill… looks like crumbling.. Falling down with every thing to halt.
So much loss of life in China, Europe and now in USA is shocking, a very helpless situation, beyond control.. Thinking about you and friends in USA and Europe.. And I believe though at this cost of huge economic recession.. We will rise to this challenge of corona pandemic…
Here amidst of lockdown, thousands of migrant workers and daily wage earners have suffered most.. And are leaving cities to their home towns far of places.. Just walking with no food and job.. Very sad and pathetic situation.. Migration continue..
On our part we had been also involved in supporting people with whatever little we had.. Helping patients in our health clinic.. Giving masks to sick people and food distribution.. Very scary to see the numbers of patients and casualties in US.. please take care of yourself, family and people around you. We pray for the end of the difficult crisis.”
In Badarpur and Sarai Tareen in UP volunteers cook food for those who have nothing to eat and no work and distributed to daily job workers. Food was cooked and distributed to MHO members and migrant travelling people in need of support.
We think this video is from New Delhi where thousands and thousands of migrant/day-laborers are trying to get back to their villages:
Thanks to all team members, especially Sunita, Rajinder and Anil..Images giving masks to sick people in health clinic.