Migrant workers stranded as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic related lockdown photographed their daily lives. This webpage hosts a collection of pictures taken, by migrants from Odisha, over a period of 10 days in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
An initiative, Khelo Bandhu (Play, My Friend), rolled out a photography competition for migrant workers from Odisha. The competition was a part of a package of activities designed to keep young migrant men meaningfully engaged to protect their emotional wellbeing during this time while also discovering their talent and interests.
The ten day competition, from 4 to 13 April 2020, asked these men to document their daily lives using their mobile phones. Everyday, one winner and few other eligible entries were chosen, which received prizes in the form of mobile recharge. The final three winners were awarded cash prizes of ₹ 1000, ₹ 500 and ₹ 250.
"The lockdown is very much needed for all of us to stay safe from being affected by the virus. Gram Vikas has been working in my village for quite a long time now, I think we need to learn from the sanitation related improvements that has come into my village. During this period we all need to practice good sanitation practices and keep our homes clean and our surroundings clean so as to be safe from the virus. I like drawing and I got inspired by the photo that was shared in the group. Thought I would draw the same."
"No work here. We all were tired sitting around doing nothing. There was some left over paint from work and we thought, we would paint our old home. I live in a rented house. We all stay together here. So far, we have no trouble in getting food or water."
"I don't know what is to be done right now. We are all stuck in one place. There is no work, this is our biggest worry. I sent you a cooking photo since I make the best tea here and everyone likes my tea. Thought, I would send you a photo of me making tea for them all. We spend a lot of time cooking too, since there are quite a few of us here. So, we start cooking early."
"It is very difficult for us right now. No money. We have got food though. Company gives us rice and dal. But that is just not enough for us. We are sitting doing nothing. I feel the money will run out at some point. The reason I sent you the photo of us playing card games is because that is what we do here to kill time. It is either that or indoor cricket. Don't want to overthink too much."
For the team managing the Odia helpline at Gram Vikas, the phone calls in the first few days went late into the wee hours of the morning, up until 2.30 to 3.00 a.m.
Teams were up managing requests for food, concerns about cooking fuel running out, about places to stay. Some were worried that they were ill as they coughed, and others wanted to know when they could travel back home again.
The three member team has managed a total of 812 calls, inbound and outbound, as of 15 April 2020. Everyday, they spoke to at least 100 people. After the extension of the lockdown on 14 April, the team is doing the second round of outbound calls to 480 migrant workers from Odisha who we have details of.
On 8 April 2020, we put out a call for volunteers who could create engaging content.
Twenty five volunteers, from different parts of the country, designed image and text based quizzes on popular places and maths. Some of them curated stories to be read in regional languages. Others translated WHO cards with health information. Designers helped with collaterals including posters, digital certificates, and IEC cards.
The group is led by a volunteer who came on board to support this important work.