Human traffickers target society’s most vulnerable individuals, and the global COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased vulnerability in northern India.
To help community members through the crisis, Free the Slaves and our India partner MSEMVS have been distributing food and hygiene kits to 1,000 families this month.
Most of the recipients have been rescued from bonded labor slavery at brick kilns. The humanitarian aid is a critical lifeline to prevent their re-enslavement. Families lined up in special queues to receive the emergency aid while maintaining safe social distance.
They also received booklets with vital information about remaining safe during the health emergency.
Soni’s family has been especially hard hit by illness and hunger during the pandemic. Her husband lost his job when work was suspended. Her family of eight struggles to eat even once a day.
“Sometimes we beg for money and get to eat a meal in a day but sometimes we don’t get anything, and we sleep with empty stomachs,” Soni said.
Urmila’s family is also struggling. She and her husband are both disabled, but do not have proper paperwork to receive government help.
“Before Covid-19 my brothers used to help me, but now they are themselves struggling to earn. This ration will be sufficient for us to survive for some time until I will look for some other help. I would like to thank the people you are helping us poor and needy in the time of crisis, Urmila said.”
The food and hygiene kit distribution is just the first phase of our humanitarian effort. Social workers are now working with families to get proper documentation that will allow them to receive special government assistance.