Translated from Kokborok by Manisha Debbarma
Like other states in India, Tripura has also become a victim to the Coronavirus and a strict lockdown was imposed here. In a region where a lot of tribals depend on daily wage for survival, a lot of problems have come up as work has come to a standstill and income has completely stopped in a lot of families.
During this time, people have come forward to donate and help those who cannot afford to buy ration. One such organization doing this is Yakhrai Motha, which was established on the 5th of March, 2020 with 10 members. This ‘Motha’ or organization has no connection or affiliation with any other NGO. The members of this organization donated their personal money and savings, how much ever possible, in order to help those who need it.
Relief material being distributed by members of Yakhrai Motha
Binod Debbarma, one of the members of Yakhrai Motha says, “Till date we have helped 10 families in Koraimura, Sepahijala district, 11 families in Padma Nagar and 6 families in Hatai Kwchak. The members of these families are daily wage workers and are battling poverty. The organization has distributed 5kgs of rice, 200gms of dry fish and chilli, 1 packet of salt, Dettol soap and soya bean to each family. In the coming days, we will try to help as many families as possible.”
Madhumala Debbarma, who is a daily wage worker, is worried about finding work during the lockdown.
Madhumala Debbarma, one of the people from Padma Nagar that the ration was distributed to, says, “Although we have a big family, my husband and I have to live separately. We both are daily wagers, and due to the lockdown, we are out of work. We only have a little rice at home now. We are just worried for the next few months-how will we feed ourselves? “
Biswajit Debbarma, a woodcutter, tells us about his situation, “I sell wood in the market to earn my living. There are three of us in my family – my wife, my child and me. Due to the lockdown, I can’t go out to collect wood, so what will I even sell? Since the day before yesterday, we don’t have any rice grain at home. Today, I borrowed some rice grain from my neighbour and bought Dal worth 10 rupees. I don’t know how we will manage in the coming days”.
Sandhya had to sell vegetables from her own garden to earn money.
Some people like Sandhya Rani Debbarma from Gulsadhu Para are having to sell resources from their own house to earn money, “What should I do? I had to earn money somehow. We sold the vegetables from our own garden to earn money and we only had rice at home for ourselves. We had to save every rupee, so we couldn’t purchase anything extra, we ate only rice.”
Priti is pregnant and worries she won’t be able to go to the hospital due to lack of money.
Priti Debbarma, on the other hand, is facing a different predicament. “I am 3 months pregnant. Being born in a poor family, to marry as others do is not in my destiny. When the lockdown is over, my fiancé and I will get married in the traditional style of tiprasa, worshipping the God known as “lampwra Wathok” in our language. Although I’m pregnant, I cannot go to the hospital even if I need to, I don’t have the money.”
Watch the video about this relief distribution-
The tribals who received ration from Yakhrai Motha expressed how much they were thankful for getting our help and support. There are a huge number of tribal families in Tripura, who are living in similar conditions, without any food or work, but we need more people to be able to reach more people. This is a collective fight against COVID-19 and by coming together and trying to take care of the communities around us, by staying at home as much as we can, by following the rules, we will surely overcome this struggle.
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.
This article was first published in Youth Ki Awaaz