Saksham India: New innings for street vendors in Delhi amid COVID crisis

NGO TYCIA Foundation's Direct Benefit Transfer programme has helped over 1,000 street vendors last year. But when the Covid situation worsened in 2021, they went a step further.

Published: 10th August 2021 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th August 2021 11:52 AM   |  A+A-

Munni Lohar at stall, now well-stocked with iron equipments and kitchen utensils. (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

NGO TYCIA (Turn Your Concern Into Action) Foundation that works for education, prison reformation, rehabilitation, gender justice and disaster relief, turned its focus on the plight of migrant labourers in 2020.

Saksham India is a project under India Against Corona (IAC) that is an initiative led by TYCIA Foundation and 360Plus, initially tried to fill the gaps created by the Covid crisis.

This meant distributing masks and PPE kits, donating oxygen cylinders and concentrators, and even offering plasma donors a free ride to the nearest hospital. 

Their Direct Benefit Transfer programme has helped over 1,000 street vendors last year. But when the Covid situation worsened in 2021, they went a step further.

“We spoke to migrant labourers in the SDMC area as we work here, and shortlisted 100 in dire need,” says Saanchi M, Co-Founder, Tycia Foundation. These vendors received Rs 5,000 as funding to resurrect their roadside businesses.

“We helped them understand how cleanliness, safe practices, and branding are important for their businesses. During the capacity building workshop, many of them shared their stories, and the cross learning helped them a lot,” says Saanchi.

This project is being entirely funded by Give India and Infoedge.

“We proposed to them that street vendors were the worst hit among the affected groups in Covid. They found our concern legit and agreed to support us.”

Three street vendors tell The Morning Standard, how this scheme has impacted their lives:

Munni Lohar (35) 

Lohar makes iron labour equipment and kitchen utensils, and has lived in jhuggis at Hanuman Camp, and RK Puram. It was hard to make ends meet, and the pandemic made it even worse.

“Jo thodi bahut punji jod ke rakhi thi, voh bhi lag gayi guzara karne mein. Lockdown toh khul gaya par, Rs 12,000 karza ho gaya, aur utne mein dobara lockdown ho gaya (We had to use our minimal savings. By the end of the first lockdown, we were buried under a loan of Rs 12,000, and then another lockdown was imposed),” recalls Lohar.

But she is no longer in a hand-to-mouth situation, as she received monetary aid from the Tycia Foundation.

“They deposited the money in my bank account. I presumed I had to repay them, but I was told it was all for me. I was given sanitisers, and trained how to maintain social distancing while doing business,” adds Lohar.

Ravindra Kumar Jha (55)

Jha, who runs a tea stall near Munirka bus stop, says he was reduced to begging at the red light area near Safdarjung, during the lockdowns. Jha severely injured his leg in an accident a few years ago, and even after undergoing four operations, his foot needs to be amputated.

Despite such setbacks, Jha feels his life is back on track.

“With the money I received, I could purchase tarpaulin, utensils and other requirements for the stall.  “Now along with tea, I also sell bread pakoda.” 

Mohan Roy (43)

Roy, who runs a barber shop in Munirka, says people rarely help the underprivileged.

“I had to pay rent of Rs 4,000 for four months even when I was not earning. But now, I have bought a machine, razor, blades, and towels for my shop. I use disposable sheets for every haircut.”

Roy cannot read, but is happy that the new signboard is helping him get customers.


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