Students from Delhi’s different varsities have taken it upon themselves to raise funds, and tend to the woes of those who have been suffering due to the lockdown. The college goers are at the forefront when it comes to procuring essential food items, medicines and other necessities for those daily wage earners who have been an integral part of their once active campus life — from a bun tikki vendor to a construction labourer.
“Reality hit me hard when 45-year-old year old Ganga Devi, who sells sanitary napkins in a slum near Kashmere Gate, told me that feeding her family had become impossible because of the lockdown,” says Sanskar Saraf, a B Com (Hons) student at Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University, adding that he got motivated to help more daily wage earners and “Spoke to them about their basic requirements, jotted all the government schemes they could avail, and even helped them avail these schemes.”
Students of Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT-D) have managed to raise money, with the support of their faculty members, to fund the living of some workers on their campus, which includes about 350 daily wage construction labourers who have been stuck there due to the lockdown. Pranay Piyush, a final year student of textile engineering at IIT-D recounts, “It all began with a campus wide student initiative to extend financial support to the rickshaw pullers on our campus. Soon our efforts caught attention of our faculty members, and a Benevolent Fund Managing Committee was set-up, which helped to bring in more funds on a larger scale to extend the contributions to mess workers, construction workers and other such people who had been working to make our lives on campus easier. We have now received a a total contribution of around ₹12 lakh, in two days, from the students, faculty and our alumni. I have no words to express how glad I feel that so many students came forward to contribute for this cause. I am grateful to have been a part of this initiative.”
The students of Jamia Millia Islamia are all heart. Hundreds of students have come forward to help the daily wage earners in their own capacity, and funds have been collected via online platforms from each department. Adeeba Ashraf, a graduate in Bachelor of Dental Surgery from Jamia Millia Islamia, says, “The students of Jamia Millia Islamia have been collecting money, buying essential items and delivering them on scooties and bikes. I believe the faculty is also thinking of contributing one day’s salary to the PM’s funds. There is a huge campus wave, and the students are doing whatever they can to raise money and help those in need.”
Amit Tuteja, founder of Connecting Dreams Foundation, a non-profit organisation, has brought together youngsters from DU, to help the daily wagers. Tuteja says, “We work with 40 colleges in DU who have been assigned various projects that involve action targeted programmes for economic, environmental and social upliftment of the economically weaker sections of the society. To help the daily wage workers, there was a core team of students that got in touch with the communities of daily earners, and asked them about their problems and challenges. Students then created a list of beneficiaries near the communities that are ready to help and then they became facilitators for solving problems by connecting the beneficiaries with the daily wagers.”