A journey along the borders of India, to get an insight of the humanitarian impact of COVID-19
Bhubaneswar : A group of socially conscious and road friendly citizens have rolled out a donation drive to support people affected by COVID-19 pandemic. As a part of their campaign called the ‘Road Ashram’, the team is travelling along the borders of India, covering nearly 25,000 km and 30 states, in about 60 days in a specially modified car.
The team has travelled along the China and Nepal borders in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. They further went to Kolkata where they met organisations and eminent people, including the Mayor. In Sikkim they met with eminent and influencing citizens including Bhaichung Bhutia. They travelled up to India-Bhutan border in Jaigaon, West Bengal.
At present the team is approaching Guwahati where they will put up tonight and again resume their journey on Friday. The Road Ashram volunteers Siddhartha Dutta, Ahmer Siddiqui and Neha Chaturvedi are scheduled to arrive in Bhubaneswar on November 10.
The team intends to engage and meet people from different walks of life on 11th November in Bhubaneswar. They would discuss the humanitarian impact of COVID and the restrictions imposed because of social distancing.
Amidst the medical crisis and the safety measures, there has also been tremendous damage to the social structure wherein innumerable people have lost their jobs, healthcare has become difficult and the children have been affected due to lack of immunization and education.
The effects range further into increased poverty, instances of early marriages, malnutrition and making of laws in an arbitrary fashion while we are all dealing with this chaotic situation.
According to a recent survey, industrial workers lost nearly 5 million jobs after the Coronavirus lockdown. Data also suggests that millions of people could slip into poverty by the end of the year.
The purpose of Road Ashram is to bring attention to all these stories of people and ensure that we do not limit ourselves to measuring the impact of the pandemic to the medical crisis. This humanitarian crisis that has surfaced will take much longer and a lot of collective will and effort to resolve and we all will have to keep striving to find our feet back on stable ground.
“As conscious citizens of the country, we can’t just sit and let this happen,” said Dutta, who will be navigating the routes during the trip.
“The non-profit sector is doing whatever is possible with the available resources. But it is not enough. These organisations, especially the grassroots level NGOs need immediate support to continue their life saving work. Through Road Ashram campaign, we wish to appeal to everyone to make a generous contribution to the cause.”
Why the name Road Ashram?
Siddiqui said, “The idea is to stay on the road – in our very own, personally crafted car, that we have decided to call ‘Road Ashram’. Through our 60 day drive on the kaccha-pukka roads on the borders, we wish to raise awareness and resources to help people facing difficulties due to the pandemic.”
“Alongside, we will share videos and stories of India’s diverse cultures, places, and everything else that makes India what it is – a diverse, colourful and fascinating India.”
The team invited people to follow the campaign through their website and social media platforms.