Manjunath Kannal is our Coordinator for the Long Term Volunteering (LTV) program and a facilitator for 100th Monkey. He works out of our regional office in Mysore. Following the nation-wide lockdown in March, Manjunath decided to return to his hometown in Bijapur (North Karnataka).
The onset of COVID-19 pandemic was immediately followed by reports of migrant workers across India left stranded and enduring hardships with no job or money. Our Team believed that this was the time for us to step up and play our part in supporting the under-privileged. We started chalking out the Scope of Work for our COVID-19 relief work. One of the strategies we adopted was to leverage our network of host families, partner NGOs, communities and volunteers in executing our relief efforts. We also decided to concentrate our relief efforts in locations where our staff reside. This not only allows us to mobilize resources and partners effectively, but more importantly our staff are able to understand the priority needs of various communities and give us a clearer picture of the ground reality.
Since April, our relief work was carried out in Udupi and Mysore. In May, Manjunath K informed us about the situation of migrant workers returning to his hometown in Bijapur. These migrants, who are mostly labourers, were returning to their villages in larger numbers. Due to the shutdown of public transport, many of them have taken the long and painful journey home by walking miles.
One such village in Bijapur is Kannal, which is home to 100 Dalit families, who are daily wagers in construction, stone quarry workers and agricultural labourers. They have recently returned to their homes from Goa, Mangalore and Maharashtra, where they were employed. They have no savings, as all their earnings are spent on daily essentials.
Manjunath had visited this community, interacted with the families and local Panchayat, and shared his experience with us. He was eager to take up the responsibility of supporting this community as part of our relief work. We too, saw this as an opportunity to expand our relief work to North Karnataka and decided to distribute ration kits to 100 families in Kannal.
A week prior to the distribution, Manjunath K met the local Panchayat and apprised them of our plans. Upon getting permission from the Panchayat, he identified vendors for the ration kit items and formed a group of 6 local volunteers. We would like to thank our volunteers Mallappa, Ashok, Somappa, Shivappa, Gurappa, and Basappa for their whole-hearted support.
On 25th June, a day before the distribution, we packed the items into ration kits. Thanks to our generous donors, we prepared 100 ration kits. Each kit, sufficient to support a family of 4 for a month, contained 10 kgs of white corn, 5 kgs rava, 5 kgs wheat, 2 kgs sugar, 250 gms tea powder, 1 kg cooking oil, 1 kg salt, 2 kgs jaggery, biscuits and masks for distribution.
100 ration kits were then transported to the temple community hall, to be picked up just before the distribution. To ensure social distancing norms are followed and for ease of managing the distribution process, the 100 families were divided into 5 groups of 20 each. The volunteers also informed the families about the timings for distribution in advance.
The distribution started at 10.30 am on June 26th, at the Government Primary School in the village premises. All the government norms of social distancing, masking and sanitising were strictly followed with the support of our volunteers. Panchayat members Mr. Mahebooobsab Chapparbanda, Mr. Shivanada Matapathi attended the event along with Mr. Mallikarjun Sonnada, Panchayat Development Officer who informed the families about how COVID-19 spreads, precautionary measures and following social distancing. The President of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, Mr. Umesh Walika also attended the distribution.
The families and Panchayat members expressed their gratitude for the ration kits and also for addressing the needs of this particular community. Besides being able to meet the needs of the families at Kannal, we are pleased to have expanded our relief efforts to North Karnataka as well.