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How A Helpline In Bihar Bhawan Is Working Tirelessly To Assist Migrant Workers

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

Just after the announcement of a nationwide lockdown due to the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Government of Bihar took a swift decision to establish a helpline-cum-control room in Bihar Bhawan, New Delhi for migrant workers of Bihar stuck in any part of India.

The people-friendly helpline-cum-control room was started on March 25 under the leadership of Resident Commissioner of Bihar Shri Vipin Kumar. The motto of the control room is to assist millions of migrant workers of Bihar who are stranded in different parts of India due to lockdown.

Three dedicated helpline numbers (011-23792009, 011-23014326, 011-23013884) with ten hunting lines are operational round the clock to avoid any congestion while connecting Bihar Bhawan. Bihar Bhawan also started a Google doc forms service to enable stranded workers to submit their queries and request online.

A team of young officers under the leadership of the Shri Vipin Kumar, Resident Commissioner, Bihar acknowledges every request received from the migrants while acting on those in real-time. 60 staff members are deputed in the helpline in three shifts, maintaining social distance and hygiene, to assist the migrant workers. Officials at Bihar Bhawan in coordination with the local administration of concerned states help them to meet their basic requirements in terms of food, shelter, medical assistance. We are also facilitating financial assistance from the Chief Minister Relief Fund for them.

The helpline numbers are reaching out to migrants from Bihar who are in dire need of food, shelter and medicine. Bihar Bhawan gets calls from the migrants stranded in various districts of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand among others.

Immediate action is taken in coordination with the district magistrates, police administration, resident commissioners and senior officers of concerned states. At times, the helpline executives have to deal with some unusual request of migrants wanting to go back to their native place. The executives advise them to comply with the direction of the Government so as to defeat COVID-19.

The office of the Resident Commissioner has also worked to enable people to travel their native places in Bihar due to unforeseen situations such as the demise of someone in their family. There are many cases of pregnant women of Bihar stranded in other states who received immediate medical assistance after Bihar Bhawan officials coordinated with local authorities.

In multiple unprecedented incidents, Bihar Bhawan has walked extra miles to help the migrants stranded under adverse situations.

Shri Neeraj Thakur, a resident of Raghunathpur, Purnia, Bihar, who works in Delhi, contacted Bihar Bhawan after his mother breathed last on 29.03.2020. Son Neeraj went to Bihar Bhawan in Delhi and approached the Resident Commissioner’s office so that he could go home to attend the funeral of his mother. Without any delay, the Resident Commissioner issued a travel pass to send him and his family to his native place.

In a similar incident, Mr. Anwar Alam, a resident of Kishanganj district of Bihar, wrote to the Resident Commissioner of Bihar at Bihar Bhawan, New Delhi informing him that his father has passed away at his native place and he had to go home for the burial. Twenty-one-year old Mr. Alam used to work at Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. Alam was also sent to Kishanganj on 28th March 2020 by Bihar Bhawan.

Father of Ms. Apoorva Das (an engineer in Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Bengaluru), who is a resident of Darbhanga district of Bihar, died in Chennai on 07.04.2020. She was supposed to go to Chennai to attend his funeral. She requested Bihar Bhawan. The Resident Commissioner of Bihar in coordination with the Bengaluru Police, issued a travel pass to Ms. Apoorva that helped her reach Chennai.

Meanwhile, there was information from Anambakkam in Chennai that a pregnant woman is unable to go to the doctor for her treatment due to lockdown. Her husband Shri Panch Narayan, resident of Lodipur, Sheikhpura (Bihar), apprised the Bihar Bhawan of the incident. The officials at Bihar Bhawan helped the woman with much needed medical facility in coordination with the local administration in Chennai.

Bihar Bhawan has received more than 22,000 calls, approximately 19,800 Google forms and more than 2,700 WhatsApp messages and letters for help till now, involving more than 900 thousand migrant workers of Bihar.

The Resident Commissioner Shri Kumar, many a time, talks to migrants on mobile inquiring about their well-being.

There is also a dedicated feedback mechanism in Bihar Bhawan to know about the actions taken by the local authorities on requests from Bihar Bhawan. So far, more than 90,000 positive feedback has been received at Bihar Bhawan from migrants of Bihar across India.

The Resident Commissioner Shri Kumar receives complimentary WhatsApp messages and videos on a regular basis from the migrants who have got assistance due to coordination work of Bihar Bhawan.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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