Mumbai’s Struggle Against COVID-19: How Can You Help?

Le Mill has partnered with The Swaddle and CORO, an NGO, to help raise funds for families in need of emergency rations and supplies as part of the Lockdown Relief Fund. You can donate here.  

To better understand the situation on the ground, we spoke with Mr. Luis Miranda, Chairman of CORO and Mumtaz Shaikh who has been with the organization for 19 years. 

India, like the rest of the globe, is struggling to manage the COVID-19 Crisis. An overwhelming majority of India’s urban poor live in Maharashtra. In the suburbs of Ahmednagar, Chembur, Bainganwadi, Nashik and Gowandi, where CORO’s work has been concentrated, families live in urban sprawl. In these “dumping grounds” as Mumtaz, calls them, people earn anywhere between Rs. 33-800 in a day. They work as garbage collectors, household workers, zari workers and often beg to earn their keep. “Right now, with all work at a stand still, people are afraid of where their next meal will come from and this has led to panic.” 

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Imagine being stuck in 250 square foot room with 7 people, you have to leave this room for water, to use the toilet, to get some air. Social distancing is not practical here. Social distancing is for the privileged. Before people die of the virus which has reached Dharavi and making its way here, people will die of hunger. If they find some reassurance that their stomachs will be full, people will regulate themselves but the fear of starvation is maddening. “The privileged are quarantined in civil ways, the poor are sprayed with chemical sanitizers like animals, if you’ve seen the video of what happened in Bareli.” Mumtaz says, struggling to keep her voice even.

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 Mumtaz is from the same community she works in. She is a domestic abuse survivor and knows the families in these areas well. Domestic abuse will increase because of the lockdown, the burden and blame, the collective frustration people are experiencing in this crisis, is always projected at the woman, she cautions. Along with food, CORO gives the women numbers of counselors to call during an emergency. 

Luckily, CORO has a network in place in these communities, using this network, they are able to coordinate deliveries from stores like D Mart to provide rations and soap to these families. So far, they have fed 400 families. Mr. Luis Miranda, chairman of CORO speaks to the importance of tapping into our personal networks to build bridges and unite in a collective effort to make resources available to the people. Monetary support allows for funds to be made available for NGO’s to make physical resources like food available in a time where we all have limited mobility. 

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CORO is not the only organization providing emergency relief in these areas. There are others as well. Each organisation has a list of families they help, some families fall into more than one list and receive extra rations. When this happens, the families are honest, they give away their share to the people who need it more. “There’s a huge sense of community here, people look out for each other so no one will go hungry.”  

There is lots of work to be done. The next stage in this crisis will leave a role for all of us. In the poorest of communities, resources for mental health, connectivity and virtual learning will be imperative. Tap into your virtual network, look out for each other, and step up to help where you can. We can and will get through this but only together, only with love, only with compassion. For now, the best we can all do, is to donate so organisations like CORO can continue the work they are doing. 

Click here to help us raise money for the Lockdown Relief Fund and get more families fed.