Anganwadi worker on mission to feed migrants walking home
Ameena Begum chose to celebrate her daughter’s birthday in a novel way. The anganwadi worker who earns around Rs 10,500 a month, distributed the ration to poor families and fed workers who were journeying home on foot during the lockdown.Updated: May 24, 2020 08:29 IST
On April 24, Ameena Begum chose to celebrate her daughter’s birthday in a novel way. Nearly a month into the lockdown, Ameena, a 44-year-old resident of Mupkal village in Telangana’s Nizamabad district, cooked a meal large enough to feed several families. Together with her four children, Azharuddin, Mazharuddin, Tahseen and Heena — whose birthday it was — Ameena bought groceries as well. And then, the anganwadi worker who earns around ₹10,500 a month, distributed the ration to poor families and fed workers who were journeying home on foot during the lockdown.
Ameena Begum, lives close to National Highway 44 that leads to Nagpur. Her oldest son, Azharuddin, runs a chicken shop started by her now deceased husband, while 22-year-old Heena is undergoing a teacher’s training course. During the holy month of Ramzan, her home became a stopover for tired and hungry migrants.
“They were all migrant labourers coming from Hyderabad, about 200 km away, on foot and going to their native places in Maharashtra. Their children were crying as they had not eaten anything for the past two days,” Ameena said. “I told them to wait for some time, so that I could cook some rice and curry for them.”
That was just the beginning. Ameena made it a mission to serve the migrants walking on the highway, and her children assisted her. She used her savings of about ₹2,500, and put in money from her monthly salary — cut by 10% to ₹9,500. Heena, who has a part-time job of tailoring and embroidery, pitched ₹20,000 and Azharuddin promised to give her ₹500 a day.
“Initially, it started with about 100 people, but it went up to 300 every day. The daily expenditure went up from ₹2,500 to ₹6,000 per day,” she said. Ameena received help from unexpected quarters — one Krishna Murthy from Guntur sent her ₹25,000; another in Choutapalli village gave her 200 kg rice and 15 kg red gram. Farmers from neighbouring villages supplied fruit. “An owner of a private bus company gave financial assistance and sent four buses to transport the labourers with due police permissions,” she said.
Ameena wakes up at 3 am daily and after prayers begins to cook. By 6 am, she has cooked rice, khichdi, curry, vegetables and sometimes even biryani. The serving starts at 6am and continues till 10pm, she said.
Now, Ameena has started transporting the food to neighbouring villages, where migrant workers are either staying or stopping over.