Distancing a luxury for underprivileged kids in Ludhiana as they queue up for food
With household fast supplies drying up and parents out of work amid the lockdown, it is the children of the underprivileged who are the worst-hit in these times.Updated: Apr 28, 2020 04:16 IST
With household fast supplies drying up and parents out of work amid the lockdown, it is the children of the underprivileged who are the worst-hit in these times. Barely managing two square meals a day, social distancing is a luxury they cannot afford as they are forced to stand in long queues for hours on everyday for a pack of roti and dal. And that for them is no less than a daily dose of chocolate, ice-cream or noodles that their more privileged counterparts seem to enjoy.
At ward 76, where councillor and Punjab Small Industries and Exports Corporation (PSIEC) chairman Gurpreet Gogi has established a ‘Roti Bank’, several children, as young as five, can be seen waiting for food in the long queues. Gogi too says that he has noticed a sizable presence of children in food distribution queues.
A six-year-old girl who was seen waiting in a queue at Ghumar Mandi said, “My mother asked me to come here and fetch food as there nothing to eat at home. I like noodles and chocolates but I am really hungry and have no choice.”
Another nine-year-old girl who was standing in the queue said, “My mother, who was working as a domestic help, has lost her job and is sitting at home. My father, a construction labourer, has also been thrown out of his job. There is no money and the owner of the room is pressing us to pay the rent. I was hungry since morning. I saw many children of our locality standing in the queue to grab a meal. So I have also decided to come here too. I hope that I also get food to eat.”
That the kids are left to fend for themselves is also evident from the fact that of the 200 distress calls the childline has received in the last one month, at least 90% is regarding shortage of food. Though the childline fears that complaints of abuse and violence will start surfacing once the lockdown is lifted, at the moment they are doing their best to mitigate the food crisis.
Arshdeep Singh, coordinator, Ludhiana district, said all calls related to help for food were from the migrant labourers residing in different areas of the district. “When our team visits the house of the caller to provide them food, we first check the quantity of ration being stored by them, number of children in the house and provide them food accordingly. We also check the availability of food in the nearby houses also where migrant workers are residing and provide them ration. During the visit to these houses we also counsel the children,” he said.