A 27-year-old woman who kept the books of a garment wholesaler in Burrabazar lost her job in December 2020. She is yet to find another and now depends on ration from a couple of NGOs to sustain her family.
The Bijoygarh resident is one of many people in Calcutta who are still without a steady income because of the pandemic and dependent on charity for sustenance.
The Covid numbers are under control, people are going back to work and the festive season is knocking. But for these people, life is fraught with uncertainties.
Some city-based NGOs are still continuing distributing meals as well as dry ration. The campaigns have scaled down but the number of recipients is still substantial, said people helming them.
A 37-year-old man who lives in Ramgarh near Jadavpur lost his job in November 2020. He used to work in the accounts section of a logistics unit in Beckbagan.
In the middle of last month, he received dry ration from an NGO that has been helping him since last year. “Every time I have to ask for help, I feel so embarrassed. But I don’t have any other option,” the man told this newspaper over the phone, requesting anonymity.
He lives with his parents, wife and a toddler girl. His father gets a pension of Rs 900. “I have been desperately looking for a job,” he said. For the past few months, he has been giving online math tuitions to children. “But my income is not even half of what it used to be.”
The person has been getting help from the IHA Foundation, which had organised langars that provided more than one million free meals during the lockdown.
“Even now, we serve food almost every day to hundreds of people. We do provide dry ration to people who call us for help,” said Satnam Singh Ahluwalia, the chairman of the foundation.
A 28-year-old woman, a resident of Pottery Road in central Calcutta, has also been taking dry ration from the NGO for a year.
She works with a BPO on the northern fringes of the city. In June last year, she was sent on leave without pay. She resumed work from November but was again benched this May.
For the past two months, she has started going to work again. She lives with her parents and is the sole earning member of the family. “I have started earning but all my savings got depleted.”
Another organisation, the Anti-Hunger Squad Foundation, has also been providing cooked food every day, at hospitals, stations and slum areas. Dry ration is delivered to people who call for help.
“People who had a steady income at one point of time prefer dry ration,” said Zeeshan Majid, the founder of the NGO.