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50 Survivors (including 20 Children) Educated on Covid-19, and Provided With Medical Care and Housing

01/04/2020 BANGALORE – As India ramps up its response to the spread of COVID-19, so too are IJM Bangalore and our partners in Karnataka state—especially as we seek to serve vulnerable families who are just re-entering the world after years spent in bondage.

Coronavirus Awareness for Rescued Families Returning Home

Back on March 13, IJM assisted local authorities and the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission on a rescue operation to free 50 people from three eucalyptus farms. Some of these labourers had been enslaved for 15 years under strict control from the farm owners. Read more in this breaking news story.

Throughout this case, the government showed incredible drive and sensitivity toward the survivors. In addition to the standard support and Release Certificates given to victims after the operation, officials also worked diligently to provide Aadhar Cards (official Indian IDs) and bank accounts to the survivors within two days of the rescue—the shortest timeframe ever in an IJM Bangalore case. They also provided iron supplements to women who were ill and vaccinations for the many children who had been born at the farms.

When it came time to help the survivors return to their hometowns, district officials not only handled the transfer, but also ensured the families could be educated on and screened for COVID-19 so they could reintegrate back at home with confidence. Survivor returned to Krishnagiri District (in Tamil Nadu state) on March 16 and 17, and to Shivamogga District (in Karnataka state) on March 18.

The survivors returning to Shivamogga District received additional help from their government in the form of temporary accommodation and employment opportunities to help re-start their lives in freedom. Many of these families come from a nomadic community, so the concept of “settling down” in one place is unfamiliar. Taking this into account, local officials and IJM found them work at a vetted construction company in Shivamogga and educated the employers about these survivors’ background and special needs. They also arranged on-the-job training for the survivors so they could start work officially on March 23.

Other COVID-19 Activities

In addition to supporting these recently rescued families, IJM Bangalore is also supporting the state government on additional measures to keep vulnerable communities safe from the spread of coronavirus.

To support the statewide statutes in a relevant way with our survivor community, IJM and leaders from Udayonmukha (the local chapter of the Released Bonded Labourers’ Association) adopted an initiative to provide basic soaps to rural families and to propagate the good practices of everyday hygiene, frequent hand washing, social distancing and staying clear of crowded venues. IJM Aftercare staff members have spent time training Udayonmukha leaders over the phone and through various video clips and visual material via WhatsApp on the effective use of the products.

This initiative, though small-scale and simple, is set to swivel enormous support for the community to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

IJM’s trained partner organization Shantha Jeeva Jyothi (SJJ) has also extended collaboration on this initiative by supplying additional soaps to the members of Udayonmukha to be distributed to other survivors and the larger community in their project area.

Read more about our work in India

Read more Stories of Hope

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