Vikram*, a migrant worker from Bihar who was working as a security guard in Hyderabad, lost his job in the second wave of the pandemic. Unable to stay afloat financially, he decided to go back to his hometown. There were only two options for him, either walk back hundreds of kilometres or join a small group of people who had hired a van for Rs 60,000. Not in a position to choose either of the options, Vikram is one of the thousands of migrants who are stuck in cities after losing their jobs.
During both the first and the second waves of COVID-19, itâ€™s the migrant workers who are among the worst hit across different states in the country. Providing them relief, a few young entrepreneurs from Hyderabad have come together to start an initiative called Tikaana Sahara. For the last two weeks, they have been providing roti (food) and makaan (accommodation) to scores of migrant workers in Hyderabad and Bengaluru free of cost.
Migrant labor have been the hardest hit in this pandemic - losing jobs, walking 100s of kms & savings getting wiped out. We are doing our little bit in helping as many as we can by providing free food and accommodation. #tikaana #migrantlabor pic.twitter.com/eXQDoyMqzjâ€” Tikaana Coliving (@ColivingTikaana) May 24, 2021
The initiative was started by IIM and NIT alumni who run Tikaana, which offers co-living spaces for blue-collar workers individually and in partnership with companies. Due to the lockdown, several of their buildings remain unused as companies have opted for work from home for their employees.
Speaking to TNM, Pruthvi Reddy, an NIT alumnus and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Tikaana, said that they have a facility with about 1,200 beds and on peak days, about 800 migrants used this facility in the recent lockdown that was imposed.
â€śWe already have all the infrastructure as we run shared accommodation facilities in four leading cities. But we have centralised kitchens set up only in Hyderabad and Bengaluru, so we opted for these two cities to provide accommodation to migrant workers so that they would get seamless food facility too,â€ť Pruthvi shares. In these two cities alone, Tikaana has about 30 buildings with all the facilities.
Apart from providing shelter and food, the Tikaana team is also helping the migrant workers restart their life by providing job opportunities.
â€śWe have a good network of companies and agencies, as we work closely with them to provide accommodation for their employees. So using our connections, weâ€™re also making sure that the migrant workers get job opportunities. Weâ€™re glad that many of them who came to us are leaving with a job,â€ť adds Pruthvi.
Apart from cities, the team is also extending a helping hand in other districts. Recently, Tikaana contributed 100 beds to the COVID-19 facility in Suryapet district upon receiving a request from the District Collector.
The core team members â€“ Pruthvi Reddy and Tikaana co-founders Raghu Bojja and Karthik Boyapally â€“ say that they were inspired by how Sonu Sood helped migrant workers last year. â€śWhen a single man like Sonu Sood was doing so much, we should also be able to do some kind of service to the community when people are in dire need,â€ť says Pruthvi.
If you know any migrant workers who have lost their jobs, you can call Tikaanaâ€™s support number â€“ 8247440154 â€“ to avail shelter at their nearest centre.