Mollifying the severe repercussions of the COVID-19 lockdown

“The nationwide lockdown was imposed when I arrived in Shimla … No one has been employing domestic help or labour … How should I feed and sustain myself without work? Moreover, I have a 12 years old daughter. How should I bring her up?”
shares Gyanti Devi, a 38 years old migrant worker and an extremely strong woman.

Troubles never come alone, nor do they have a preface to their approach. A calamity always spares the survivor with an invisible wound. The survivor alone perceives whether the scars heal with time or not. Yet, their stories become an exemplar of inspiration for many propelling against the vicissitudes of destiny.

Gyanti Devi’s modest household

Gyanti hails from Chapra district of Bihar. Despite trying her best to meet the medical expenses of her husband’s treatment, she lost him to cancer in 2015. Depleted of property and savings, she shifted to her maternal place with her eight years old daughter and a seven years old son. Yet the misfortune was merely the tip of an iceberg.

Gyanti Devi receiving aid under CASA’s Covid-19 response

In 2016 her son developed mild fever and was carried to the village hospital. After the constant change in referrals from the village hospital to the district hospital and finally, to Patna, what happened next was heartbreaking. “We travelled to Patna overnight by bus. My son got treated, but soon he lost his voice. The doctors told us that they are trying their best to treat him, but whether he would survive or not is up to fate.” Gyanti broke into tears while narrating the events of that day, “My child died after six days.”

Gyanti was too devastated to sense what followed next. All that she remembers was her brother buried her son, and she couldn’t see her child again. Gyanti fainted in shock and was carried back home. Consoled by her sister-in-law, Gyanti was convinced to join them in Shimla to work, earn and live together. “I started working as a Household help in Shimla. My daughter was enrolled in a school”

We wish it was the end to her misery and her story could have taken an easy route in progression. But fate had another set of the tide against Gyanti to face.

“In January 2020, I went to my hometown and came back in the first week of March. The nationwide lockdown was imposed when I arrived at Shimla. We have been sitting idle at home since the lockdown. No one has been employing domestic help or labour. We were worried about sustaining ourselves. I shared my worries with a (CASA) volunteer and conveyed all I had been through. How should I feed and sustain myself without work? Moreover, I have a 12 years old daughter with me. How should I bring her up?”

CASA assured Gyanti to provide all possible help and support. “ The (CASA) community members have indeed helped me a lot. The CASA volunteer (addressed as CASA Didi by Gyanti) assisted me.”

Gyanti was employed and was supplied with a monetary amount of 1000 rupees along with a month’s ration. Encouraged to reshape her life, Gyanti works with dedication to sustain her daughter and herself. No one can ever compensate for her loss or perceive the pain in her emotional wounds. But the strength that she harboured through those struggles, makes her worthy of a dignified life ahead. CASA intends to support more brave individuals like Gyanti whose predicaments have been worsened in these unprecedented times of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the ground report by Arushi Narchal, Assistant Manager, Digital Media
written by Kajol Tanaya- Intern, Communications
Edited by- Pankhuri, Communications Associate