Ek thuki suki hajar thuki nadi: Nepali quote
Dedicated towards bringing back the lost essence of Darjeeling Hills, Mukh Bandh Kaam Suru is involved in empowering the people across social sectors. During the COVID-19 pandemic, MBKS volunteers braved their lives to reach out to tea gardens. Here’s their story as told by the organisation's Founder and General Secretary Rahul Pradhan to Simran Sharma:-
When the nationwide lockdown was enforced due to COVID-19, we suspended our ongoing projects. We understood that this lockdown would curb economic activities, which would bring hardships to those who were recovering from the aftermath of previous unrest here, i.e. the tea garden workers of Darjeeling.
Photo by Nawami Gurung
Although most of us migrate to towns, our roots remain in the gardens. During Dassai we go back and we witness how life there is still as hard; we’ve been hearing it for generations. So our main motivation was to provide food security to the workers under this unprecedented emergency.
With the help of Dr. Sudarshan Tamang from Sikkim University, we started an online campaign. In our pilot project at Rungli-Rungliot we could provide enough ration to 27 families for 2 months. Soon the response increased and people approached us requesting help in different tea gardens. In a span of 2 and half months, we successfully reached out to 2,200 families in 33 gardens with 33,000 kilos of dry ration consisting of items like pulses, onions, salt, potatoes etc. that are not provided in the PDS system.
In our visits, we also noticed the information vacuum among the people. Their nonchalant response was “We’ve stayed home for 105 days in 2017, this is no different”. So apart from the relief distribution, we tried creating awareness regarding basic protocols.
As our MBKS volunteers were mostly college students, the mounting fears made our parents scared for us. Every time we came home from our visits, we would head straight to the bathrooms and sanitize thoroughly.
We wanted to cover maximum families but fell short in some gardens because of the difference in numbers. Tea gardens also happen to exist as a big political issue in the hills. In one tea garden, our relief was also hijacked. But we have tried to remain positive still. We are a team of mutual decision makers driven by a common feeling to restore the lost essence of Darjeeling hills.
Photo by Nawami Gurung
Presently, we have restarted our other projects for poverty alleviation. Our newest project is ADOPO which stands for donation points where people can drop off essentials besides food like clothes, books, blankets etc. We have started one at Chowrasta.
These are times through which people have held on despite the economic and other difficulties. We would like to tell them: Please don’t lose hope, hope is everything, the world works on hope. If there is no hope there is no humanity. Please wait for a while, sustain, persevere, we’re a family. If you can help someone do so, reach out for help if you need it, and hold on so that we emerge as a stronger, powerful, community.
Darjinc and Mayukh Tea thank team MBKS for their dedication in helping those in need during this pandemic
Details for donating to Mukh Bandh Kaam Suru Trust:-
State Bank of India
A/c No. 37715203916
IFSC Code: SBIN0000063
DARJINC and MAYUKH TEA present Darjeeling COVID Heroes, a series to celebrate the unsung, often unnoticed heroes, who have truly served our community during this pandemic. Keep visiting this space for other such motivational and humane stories from the lockdown.