Coronavirus: some aid for the army of the unemployed in Khulna (photos)
Police threaten an electrician for violating the quarantine. The epidemic hits daily labourers the hardest. The government does nothing to help the jobless. Catholic students donate food parcels to the poor who cannot work because of the lockdown of economic activities.
Khulna (AsiaNews) – Daily labourers and those employed in small businesses are the most affected by the bans imposed by the Bangladeshi government to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Currently, Bangladesh has 54 confirmed cases of infection with six deaths.
One of those unemployed workers is Michael Sarker, a 45-year-old electrician who lives in Khulna, south-eastern Bangladesh.
“I ventured out of the house to look for work but the police tried to beat me for violating the coronavirus quarantine,” he said.
Sarker was left without a job after factories in Khulna closed. He used to earn 350 taka (about US.10) a day; too little already to meet the needs of his family. Now, it is even harder for him to feed his wife and two children.
“We are out of money. If any of my loved ones gets sick, I couldn't afford a doctor, "Sarker told AsiaNews. He hopes local factories will reopen soon, so he can go back to work.
Usha Mazumdar, a 50-year-old widow, is in the same condition. “The construction company where I work had to close for the quarantine,” she said. “I was earning 300 taka per day (around US.50). It was little, but at least I could give my son something to eat.”
She had to ask her neighbours for some rice to survive. She accuses the government of doing nothing to help people left without work.
Like others in Khulna who cannot work because of the restrictions imposed by the authorities, Sarker and Mazumdar have been helped by a group of Catholic students from the local branch of the Catholic Student Movement of Bangladesh, which is associated with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh.
The aid consists of a food parcel with 5 kilos of rice, a kilo of legumes and potatoes, oil, salt, and a piece of soap.
“For us, this gift is a great help,” Sarker said. “I have to thank the generosity of these young people.” The package Mazumdar received from the students will help her and her son for a week.
In addition to Catholic students in Khulna, many local Catholics are also helping out by contributing money to pay for the food parcels. Raising more funds and helping more people remain the goal.
“We work to improve living conditions in our city,” said Sourov Saha, president of the student group. This can be achieved with “a fundraiser for the neediest, an educational campaign, or an initiative to clean and repair city streets.”