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Volunteer-driven initiatives are offering relief and aid to migrant workers hit by the COVID-19 lockdown

Arti Das

It was the heartbreaking image of India’s lockdown: migrant workers finding themselves jobless overnight leaving cities in droves, on foot, carrying their possessions on their backs. These faceless, nameless people, who shape our cities, triggered a discussion about the value of human life. In Goa, where migrant workers are the backbone of the real estate economy, the situation was no different. They struggled to get food on their plate.

Enter the Goa Humanitarian Helpline. The volunteer-run helpline, functioning mainly through Whatsapp, provided ration and relief material and helped in mobilising travel of migrant workers.

A long line of migrants awaiting their turn to collect ration at Alto Betim. Photos credit: Covid Outreach Goa

The group that started as a grocery helpline soon reached different corners of the state, roping in locals. “The Goa Humanitarian Helpline has answered calls from physically challenged senior citizens who needed food, cancer patients who were running out of medicines, pregnant women, daily wagers