The Brave Women of Shiv Vihar
Shiv Vihar received the maximum heat of anti-Muslim NE Delhi Pogrom. Torched properties, demolished residential areas, broken windows, and scorched walls were enough to attest to the situation. Every burned house in this locality narrated the story of its residents who bore the violence and maybe will carry its marks forever in their hearts. Every survivor had a story which could shake our souls, how they lived to tell all of it is indeed an act of bravery and strength
Reaching out to Shiv Vihar amidst the news of violence being still carried out in some parts of NE Delhi was an extremely difficult task. On our first day of visit for the relief work, our steps hesitated a bit when we saw the debris of humanity in those burnt buildings, the fire had seeped inside the walls, they were ready to fall. This was a community who had lost everything, the fire not only burnt their homes and killed their kins, it burnt their hopes too. We started with a plan for evacuation and relief work. In the first week of the relief work, we were primarily providing ration and essentials. Somewhere near this week’s end, around 2nd of March, a few women from the affected families approached us for helping them with a source of livelihood through sewing machines.
In order to rehabilitate their business, we bought two automatic sewing machines, (referred to as ‘jhuggi’ in the local language) and arranged 20,000 rupees for buying raw materials. Likewise, we helped in our potential capacities from relief to rehabilitation. These pogrom-hit people saw the savings of their hard-earned money, of their whole life, collapse in front of their eyes. All these days, we just kept working for these people, knowing for a fact that no matter what we do, we will never be able to rectify the great losses that these people went through.
It has been around 45 days since we have been working in Shiv Vihar. The past few weeks combined with the aftermath of pogrom and the outbreak of COVID-19 had been exhausting. The ration was bleeding, masks and PPE kits were drying from the markets. In this distress, we were blessed with a visit which was a pat on our backs and a push to work harder. Those women whom we could help with sewing machines came to donate 2,000 3-Ply masks and 100 PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) Kits which they had prepared themselves. We were asked to distribute these among the needy people.
We took a moment to acknowledge the gratefulness of these amazing women. They lost everything in the pogrom, what did they have? Sewing kit and a small amount of cash, a very small step to re-establish their livelihood. But what did they choose to do with this? Help the people in need. When the time came, they turned to help. What they asked from us was to distribute these items to people who need it, there were no parameters to limit the people who will be helped. These inspirational women are preparing more of these masks and PPE kits. If anyone out there is looking for buying these in bulk, their market is ready for supply. It will be a help to their business and an addition to the goodwill in the society as well. We will donate a few of these kits to the police force who is working in good faith for the society. For us, we have got another reason to keep working and to not let our limitations deter us at any point. Everyday when we wake up, we believe not to change the world, but to change the lives of those who we could. This beautiful step from the community has strengthened our spirits and we are fortunate enough to be remembered by these warm-hearted people.