My Story : ” I Found Ayush Under A Flyover With His Parents & Others Who Were Waiting For The Truck They Had Booked “

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Part 2 : OUR LOCKDOWN IS NOT THEIR LOCKDOWN : Unsaid stories of invisible people

Can we promise an 11-day old that?

This short video peeks into the ordeal that lakhs of migrants are going through during this unprecedented crisis. The group of migrants is waiting for the truck they had booked to take them from Mumbai to their villages in Jonpur district in Uttar Pradesh. You can hear them pour out their pain and frustration.

Posted by Karthik Kn on Tuesday, May 19, 2020

I shall do a post on the logistic nightmare described in the video by the group. But that’s for later. Today, the only thing I want to do is to introduce you to someone. He makes a dashing entry around one minute fifteen seconds into the video. His name is an irony of our times. But that is beside the point.

He belongs to a generation different from ours – The post COVID generation. A generation that hasn’t experienced a non-pandemic world without masks, sanitizers, and social distancing. If and when that generation would get to breathe in such a world is anyone’s guess.

I found Ayush under a flyover at Mankoli. He, his parents, and others in the group were waiting for the truck they had booked. A spike in COVID-19 cases near Majiwada, the previous congregation points for trucks picking migrants, had forced the police to drive the fleeing migrants further away from the city. In a gesture that is truly symbolic of the current state of affairs, they shifted the pick-up point to Mankoli, closer to the city’s borders than Majiwada. An act that increased the walking-time for migrants coming from the city by 2 hours for the migrants.

The underneath of the flyover, like the forgotten corner of any city, is filled with filth, including human waste. That’s what the 11-day-old was surrounded with – Filth.

But when I met Ayush, that filth faded in front of his adorable eyes, naughty legs and tiny fingers that had unformed finger-nails etched over them. He shined like a true bundle of joy. Everything paled in front of his innocence.

Everything except the pain simmering inside his parents.

What all would they have dreamed, when they got the news for the first time that Ayush was coming into their lives? Could they have imagined the drastic turn their lives would take in the next few months? A change that was so radical that the veil of security over their precarious existence was violently torn overnight. Without any warning whatsoever.

I had so many questions in my mind. How were they going to carry Ayush in a rickety truck packed with people? How were they going to protect him from the heat and dust and all that filth surrounding him? How did they plan to get him into the truck? Was the mother to jump in first and then take him from the father standing below? Or would they do it the other way round, with the father jumping in first? Did that mother, who days before had gone through the unbearable pain of delivery, deserve to go through more pain? Shouldn’t she be in post-natal care? Was she even healthy enough to walk or stand for hours?

I was too overwhelmed to ask any of those questions. Instead, all I could do was adore Ayush from a distance and try to capture his playful movements. His fragile palms were constantly trying to grab something. But those fingers caught nothing but foul air. I wished that he could grab me, and I could whisper into his ears that everything was going to be OK. Although I had no idea if it was to be.


Ayush reminded me that whatever has happened in this country in the past two months, and whatever is going to happen in the coming months and years, would leave a permanent mark not just on our generation but also on the ones to come. And that’s why I hope that he grows up in a world where people don’t abandon one another.

I hope that in his world, anyone could stand up and question the elites.

I hope that when he is old enough, Ayush asks us loud and clear – Why we abandoned his kind when they most needed us?

I hope that we dare to be honest with him and answer with an unflinching yes – Yes, we made a mistake!

I also hope that we can add that we realized the hazards of staying in our cozy bubbles before it was too late.

I hope that we are in a position to announce to him that we corrected our follies after all. Because from this point in our history, we placed his generation and his kind at the center of every significant decision that we took as a country.

I hope that we can proudly proclaim that we might have erred as humans but the same humanity within us, helped us correct our errors.

Can we promise him that hope today?

We better do. For we owe it to his generation and the future ones to come.

We owe it to Ayush!

PS: I wanted to thank you all for the overwhelming response to my previous post. Read it here. Your support has inspired me to start a series of posts under the title, “Our Lockdown is not their lockdown.” In this series, I would narrate unsaid stories of our own people who have become invisible to us. I shall post stories captured from ground-zero of the crisis unfolding in our country. The accounts shall incorporate aspects of this lockdown that might not be covered in other sources. I shall try my best to be objective about the observations. But I hope that once in a while, if my emotions or biases get the better of me, you will forgive me.

Looking forward to your encouragement, input, and, most importantly, support in spreading these stories far and wide. I would love to see more shares than likes because the former is what matters 

– Karthik KN , Food Ninja, S3 #khaanachahiye

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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