COVID-19 Relief Work – Nomads Live on the Edge

Report on the COVID Relief Activities in Marakkanam, by Dr. Rani, ASSEFA

COVID-19 Relief Work – Nomads Live on the Edge 1
COVID-19 Relief Work – Nomads Live on the Edge
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As the COVID-19 crisis continues to loom over us, The Government of India has taken a strict combat measure by directing a lockdown of the entire nation. At this great hour of need, ASSEFA HEALTH CARE TEAM, in close coordination with local people and women self help groups have stepped in to provide relief work.

Without the means to earn an income during the lockdown, many were unable to feed themselves and their families, for the most, no income means no food or at best less food and less nutritious food, with men and women with low income particularly the marginalized population particularly the Nomadic people being hardest hit.

“Boom Boom Mattukaran” and “Narikuravas” are such small groups of nomadic tribes that live in isolated pockets in Tamil Nadu. They also live near Marakkanam. These nomadic communities fear the hunger and deprivation that comes with the lockdown more than the virus itself. Due to lockdown, both the communities’ movement has been curtailed and with it their livelihood. They lead frugal lives and are in dire need of help.

The “Boom Boom Mattukaran” are nomadic tribal people. They make a living by traveling from place to place and make a living through entertainment with their decorated bulls and through fortune-telling using a Boom Boom Ox (literally meaning, Ox shaking the head).

The Narikuravas is an indigenous community in the state of Tamil Nadu. Their main occupation is hunting, but as it is prohibited, they take up other alternatives for livelihoods such as selling beads, combs, and beaded ornaments to survive.

Doors of houses shut due to fear, their earnings through fortune-telling with their Boom Boom Ox had taken a beating, and also with no big festivals, their goods have also remained unsold. Due to the migratory nature of their livelihood, these Nomadic tribes also do not have mandatory ID cards that enable them to draw benefits from Government schemes.

The lockdown had accentuated their misery as the nomadic tribe was robbed of their livelihood selling bead ornaments, telling fortunes tattooing, and hunting. They frankly admitted that they feared poverty hunger and deprivation more than the virus. Covid -19 has restricted their mobility and affected their earnings.

The ASSEFA Health Care Team reached out to these people who are near and visible to us. ASSEFA supported each family with 5 kg Rice and 2 kg Dhal and soaps for handwashing. As of now, ASSEFA has helped nearly 87 such nomadic families in their operational area in Marakkanam.

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