ERNAKULAM: As people around him queued up for Covid vaccine shots, Santhal S — a migrant worker from Coimbatore — didn’t know whom to turn to for help. He and his family of five, including his ailing mother in her 70s, were unable to get vaccinated. Until Thursday, when Caritas India came to his help. Santhal, who doesn’t own a smartphone, was unaware of the process for registration. An autorickshaw driver residing at Fort Kochi, he was under high risk of contracting the infection.
Many migrant workers have been facing multiple obstacles to get vaccinated. Caritas India, an NGO involved in many social activities, have launched a vaccination drive for migrants in Kerala. Even those without proper IDs or documents have been included in the process, so no one is left behind in the fight against Covid. Since the drive began on Thursday, more than 300 migrant workers have been vaccinated in Ernakulam.
“Many like us are still left out of the nationwide vaccination drive. Through this initiative, many in my colony got vaccinated,” Santhal said.Pushpa Remesh, another migrant from Coimbatore who is a daily wager, can now go back to work as she has received her first dose under the initiative. Her husband is a temporary sanitation worker with Kochi corporation. It has been difficult for the family, also comprising two children and Pushpa’s elderly mother, to make ends meet.
The ‘Save Migrants Programme’ was introduced as a pilot project by Fr Paul Moonjely, executive director of Caritas India. “Only about 17% of the migrants have been vaccinated in the country, which is a dismal state of affairs,” said Fr Paul, adding the project will be executed by coordinating with institutions under the Catholic Church.
In the first phase, the target is to fully vaccinate over 4,000 migrants in the state. “Exclusion of migrants from state-level programmes and lack of proper identification remain a problem across the country. Caritas has been actively engaged in programmes for migrants over the past three years. We are helping them be a part of society,” said Fr Paul.