The lockdown hit the most vulnerable people of India, now they hit back. By implementing the free-of-cost Jhai Bheem Community Kitchen at six different locations, the scavenger community took responsibility in the current crisis. We give support to all people who suffer under the current situation.
In the Name of B. R. Ambedkar
At February 14th, the birthday of the Dalit leader Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, some of the leading figures of MSC had a Zoom call. Due to the current lockdown we couldn’t organize community events and functions like we where used to. Neither were we in the right mood to celebrate while others were starving nor did we want to give the new Coronavirus a platform to spread. What else could we do?
“It was the anniverary of B.R.Ambedkar, when we had a Zoom call with the leading figures of MSC. And we were asking ourselves: What can we do? We need something new for the community members and something that might help others, too: For the migrant labourers and others who are affected first by the lock down. So, the idea of the Jhai Bheem Community Kitchen came up to my mind.”Vimal Kumar – Founder of MSC
A new idea was born, an event which would put the work of MSC to a whole new level. Our Community Resource Centers where always open for people from other castes, religions and communities – strong connections to others are important to let the idea of equality grow in the society. The new Jhai Bheem Community Kitchen should work the same: From the community to everyone in need.
Fighting Corona With Love and Passion
It took a lot of effort to organize the Jhai Bheem Community Kitchen. For seven days, MSC organized meals free of cost at six different locations in India: Guwahati (Assam), Ladwa (Haryana), Bhiwani (Haryana), Bhubaneshwar (Odisha), Dhanbad (Jharkhand), Solan (Himachal Pradesh).
In the early morning, around 3 AM, our community members woke up and prepared the food for several hours. Later on the day, they would go to public places within or without the community to share the food with people in need. We have fed more then thousand people until now, who were struggling to find a proper meal during the times of Corona.
Jhai Bheem Community Kitchen is a Small Revolution
It’s not too long ago that people would refuse to take food from members of the scavenger community. Members of Scheduled Castes, the Dalits, were regarded as untouchable. Sharing food or water with them is still seen as polluting in some parts of India.
Jai Bheem Community Kitchen prooves that the scavenger community is changing: From a marginalized group which has endured the injustice of the past for centuries – to a community which is actively promoting change. Scheduled Caste’s members slipping in the role of the saviour instead of the victim definitely is something special.
We are happy to see our communities develop and flourish. The Jai Bheem Community Kitchen is the next step towards equality. The fight for equality is a long road and each step is important.
Humans are mortal. So are ideas. An idea needs propagation as much as a plant needs watering. Otherwise both will wither and die.Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar
Safety Measures for Scavengers in India
“If one community member is in danger, the whole community will be in danger”, Vimal Kumar encourages the community members to take care of safety measures. Even in the U.S., where Vimal currently works as a Next Generation Leader at the McCain Institute, the sweepers and cleaning staff are constantly exposed to the danger of infection with the new Coronavirus – besides wearing protective clothes.
The provision of gloves and masks have always been a demand of MSC and also local labour unions – usually they were ignored by the responsible authorities. During the ongoing crisis, this lack of access to essential protection could be fatal. The members of the scavenger community often share their small houses and huts with many family members, a possible focus of infection.
For this reason, MSC encourages all it’s members and scavenger communities to pay extra attention to their physical well being and take the implementation of physical distance serious, wherever possible. The distribution of free food in the Jhai Bheem Community Kitchen considers different measures to ensure the physical distance of people. Our community members are also encouraged to wear masks and gloves while they prepare and distribute free food.
Additionally, MSC organized the distribution of free masks in Ladwa and Bihani.