COVID-19 relief for brickfield workers

O My Bag has been supporting the Brickfield Schools, a project of the Kolkata Mary Ward Social Center (KMWSC), for a few years now. It is a project very dear to our hearts. Due to the current health crisis we wanted to make sure the workers and their families were supported during these uncertain times. We reached out to KMWSC to see how O My Bag could help.
by Leonie Weber on May 08, 2020

Quick reminder - what are the Brickfield Schools?

Throughout India, there are many brickfields – open air factories where clay bricks are made by hand. Most of the brickfield workers are migrants who, with their children, spend up to eight months of the year in the dusty fields. During all this time, the children receive no formal education. The Brickfield Schools tackle this problem by providing education to the kids in open-air classrooms at the brickfields, thereby increasing their chances of a self-determined life. The curriculum of the schools is tailored to the context and needs of the migrant children.

Effects of Covid-19 on brickfield workers

India has been under a nationwide lockdown since the 23rd March, to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. This also includes the brickfields. All work there has come to a halt, which means the workers have lost their income and livelihoods. Since public transport has been shut down, the migrant workers are not able to return to their home villages, where they might find support from their relatives and the local government. They are currently stuck at the brickfields. Having no income and located outside their home state where they’re officially registered, it is difficult for them to access food.

Aware of this precarious situation, the KMWSC took action to help these families in meeting their basic needs. They started to provide staple food, including rice, pulses, cooking oil and salt. Due to the living conditions, social distancing is difficult, meaning the risk of a Corona infection at community level is high. The KMWSC therefore also distributed masks, gloves, soaps and hand sanitizers to lower this risk.

This help is crucial and lifesaving for the families at the brickfields. The budget of KMWSC had originally been allocated for social projects like the brickfield schools. Funds have recently been reallocated and they are also tapping an emergency fund for situations like the current one. But their resources won’t last forever, so the NGO needs extra support.

O My Bag is on board

You may remember that we had the goal of raising €15.000 during the 2019 Black Friday weekend, in order to support three Brickfield Schools for an entire year. In the end, we raised a fantastic €20.184,42, with the additional €5.184,42 to be used for an extra project, supporting the kids of the brickfield schools in 2020.

In light of the current severe situation it seems far more crucial to support the brickfield workers and their families with food and protective equipment. This is why O My Bag made the decision to donate the money to KMWSC and their Covid-19 emergency help. The full amount of 5.184,42€ has already been transferred.

Food and protective equipment

The donation will allow the KMWSC to provide food for 350 families (approx. 1750 people). Included in the ration are not only rice, pulses, salt and oil, but also potatoes, some additional spices, nutritional supplements as well as milk and porridge for the children. The food will last for around 10 days for an average family of 5. In addition, every family is also provided with masks, hand sanitizer and washing detergent.

We know it is only a small contribution in this current unreal situation, but it will increase the chance of 350 families to stay healthy. So we are happy about the decision we made, we hope you as well!

If you may have any questions you can always contact me:

Stay tuned for our next India update.