Coronavirus Pandemic

UAE: Indian community organises meals, jobs for Covid-hit workers back home

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on May 18, 2021
Supplied photo

GMBF has over 300 members across the GCC, and majority of them are in the UAE.

A group of business owners in Dubai is helping out daily wage workers who have been hit by the Covid crisis in India, giving them food and offering employment opportunities.

The Gulf Maharashtra Business Forum (GMBF) has launched the grassroots initiative in partnership with non-government organisations in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, the main target of the group’s efforts.

“A number of daily wage earners who have been living from hand to mouth are now deprived of their two meals a day during the lockdown back home,” explained Prasad Datar, businessman and member of GMBF executive committee. Small, home-based businesses, street food vendors and small restaurants and kitchens are also severely affected.

“We are connecting these two hard-hit segments with the help of on-ground support. We are paying small kitchens and home-based food businesses to supply food to daily wage earners. We are also providing daily wage earners with small and temporary jobs in these areas,” added Datar.

GMBF has over 300 members across the GCC, and the majority of them are in the UAE. It has pledged over 20,000 meals to a few cities in Maharashtra.

“So far, our efforts are concentrated in Pune city, Chiplun, and now we have extended the efforts to Solapur as well,” said Rahul Tulpule, another member of the group.

In Pune, Datar is spearheading the initiative in association with NGO Annapoorna run by Dr Manisha and Abhijeet Sonavane.

“The doctor couple have been active in serving the community during these difficult times. Fresh meals are being procured from homemakers and they are being supplied to daily wage workers who have lost jobs,” said Datar.

In Chiplun, the group is working with the Helping Hands NGO, and in Solapur, it has tied up with Dyan Prabodhini.

Tulpule said: “We did consider sending funds and medical aid. However, it has come to our attention that a lot of people were making money out of it, especially by selling oxygen cylinders and concentrators. This effort ensures that the help goes to those in need.”

Going into the details of the effort, Datar said: “Take, for example, wedding halls that employ hundreds of daily wage workers who know nothing else but these specific jobs. Now that the halls have closed, these workers are left with no work and no food. In many cases, homelessness has also increased.”

With the help of doctors from Annapoorna, the group has identified 52 spots where homeless individuals have gathered.

“We provide food and medical care specifically to those areas. Also, since many are daily wage workers, they are too embarrassed to resort to begging. So, we have provided them with small job opportunities where they clean up parts of the city. This initiative is called Kharatapaltan,” added Datar.

The group intends to continue the service for two months. “We are looking to help them till the situation normalises in these cities,” he said.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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