The struggle for a family living in a slum during Covid-19 lockdown
Mehek sheikh and Bhagyashree Shinde are two preschool girls who are attending Mumbai Smiles Foundation’s preschool opened in their community since 2017.
Currently, under emergency aid, Mumbai Smiles Foundation is helping these families by providing them with essential food supplies and also basic sanitization and healthcare products such as hand sanitizers and face masks to protect themselves against the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, until our preschools reopen, the entire preschool staff is constantly reaching out to our beneficiaries enquiring about the well-being and in turn keeping us updated about their whereabouts.
However, with the ongoing lockdown and the bigger problems these families are exposed to, the stark reality of trying to choose their battles between hunger and the Corona virus, is a difficult decision to make.
Middle class Indian family who used to cook using kerosene burners or firewood, now have a better standard of living and are able to afford LPG cylinders for cooking. However, in these vulnerable areas these families still struggle to secure basic amenities and facilities such as LPG cylinders, a plate of food and healthcare remain out of their reach and are often a luxury rather than a basic necessity. With some helpful government initiatives such as ration cards, which also a proof of Indian citizenship, these families are able to avail grains and kerosene at a fairly subsidized rate, however, for those who do not have a valid ration card, this facility is also rendered ineffective.
Lack of education, lack of guidance, lack of work, lack of money eventually leads to hunger & starvation thus taking a toll on their mental health of these families and thus their failure to satisfy even the emotional needs of their children as parents. The problems are grave and need to be addressed with utmost urgency.
Mehek and Bhagyashree’s fathers are daily wage workers, who left their native places and came to Mumbai in the hope of a better future. However, in the current scenario, with lack of work and their inability to travel back to their native places, every day is a challenge. This is more or less the story of every slum.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made us think about empowering villages with better infrastructure and facilities. May be these kids can’t be a part of this big dream city but at the least they would have a dignified life with their parents who don’t have to live with the constant fear of death in their small villages.