An Improbable Journey to Assam with Their Four-Month-Old Baby
Siky, who hails from Assam, has been working in Chennai as a chef at a restaurant. After his marriage last year, his wife Renu joined him. In mid-May, this young couple with their four-month-old baby and their belongings (8 big bags and a ceiling fan) were on the Chennai streets, hoping to get a train back to Assam.
During the lockdown, Siky lost his income as all the restaurants were closed. Since they could not get a place in any government shelter, they were sitting on the pavement with no idea what to do next. Without a job, very little money in hand, with the fear of the infection, the young couple with a four-month baby was worried but determined to go back home. A train journey would take them at least three days to reach their destination.
Through the lockdown started in March, there was not much migrant movement in the south. Many NGOs and individuals were helping people with rations. But since they could not wait any longer, with no money left, and to many, no place to stay, and no hope that jobs would resume, the migrants were determined to go back home. Since getting registered for a train is a very long and confusing process, many chose to walk or ride to their villages as far as Uttar Pradesh or Assam.
Daniel and his wife, Preethi, live close to the Assam Bhavan in Chennai. One day while driving through that area, they noticed hundreds of migrants waiting. They immediately stopped and asked the police who were assisting them. They figured out that these migrants are trying to get registered to take a train home. The problem is, this process may even take a few days. Where will they stay? Who will provide them food? These were the questions in Daniel’s mind.
Though Daniel and Preethi have been distributing rations to many daily wagers since March, they did not know what to do now. While they were scouting that area, they found Siky and Renu with their baby under the Velachery bridge with all their belongings. It really shook them. How on earth can they go all the way to Assam? They went and spoke with them and found out that they desperately need help. Since they could not get a place for them in the government shelter, they took them to their home until they could manage a place in the shelter that evening. They provided them with food, water, and milk for the baby and a bag full of fruits for the time they stayed in the shelter where a few hundred are already staying. Government shelters in Chennai were pretty hot, so the volunteers got them a table fan, a mat, and a mosquito bat.
Daniel even told them to stay back as they will take care of them until the jobs open, but Siky was determined to go. Finally, they could get a train, and they reached safely to Gauwhati. After reaching there, they found out they were tested positive with the virus. This news shook them, but, thank God, they have recovered during the quarantine.
“Because of you we are here today. I have nothing to give you back in return. I will not forget you in my life.”
Daniel got a call from Siky and Renu that they are recovering well and are so grateful for their help. Renu messages Preethi saying, “Because of you, we are here today. I have nothing to give you back in return. I will not forget you in my life.” God answered their cry and sent Daniel and Preeti, who is always willing to serve the needy fearlessly.
Daniel and Preethi are HR professionals working in different companies. They also run a non-profit organization called You are loved. They work in community development projects in the area of education and employment. Since early March, with the help of their local church youth, they have provided rations to the transgender community and other migrant workers. They have provided rations to over 15,000 people by raising funds from friends and putting their own money.
As part of the Loving your migrant worker movement, these stories inspired many of us. I was thanking God for Daniel and Preethi for risking their lives and sacrificially serving those in need. May we all become like this couple serving our neighbors.
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Loving the migrant worker is a network of volunteers and NGOs across over 50 cities in India serving daily wagers and migrant workers who are on the move.