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Banshi - Spreading awareness of Covid-19 in his community

The Covid-19 lockdown forced hundreds of millions of migrants across India to make the perilous journey back to their homes. They were suddenly without work, not able to send vital earnings back to their families, but also not able to support themselves.

Some walked hundreds of kilometres, some hitch-hiked in cars, trucks and buses. The common factor was that none could practice social distance. Most migrants work in the large towns and cities of India, where Covid-19 was spreading most quickly. The rural areas that these migrants were returning to do not have the infrastructure to deal with a potential outbreak of the virus. However, the biggest challenge for these communities was a lack of knowledge about the virus, and how to protect against it.

Banshi lives in a village in the area Seva Mandir operates in. He was working as a cook in a business' canteen in Ahmedabad; one of the cities most affected by Covid-19 in India. When the lockdown started, he lost his job and knew that the only way he could survive was to travel back to his village in Sarada, around 230km from Ahmedabad.

He began walking, lugging the only belongings he had with him through the summer heat, which, on some days, reached more than 40oC.

After traveling by foot for nearly 90km, Banshi was able to get a seat on a government bus which was heading to his home region. More than 2 days later, he arrived home.

Social distancing was impossible on his journey back home, and Banshi knew that he may be a carrier of Covid-19. Before heading to see his family, he knew he would have to be tested for Covid-19. He immediately went to a local health centre to be tested for the virus. He was told to go to his home and self-isolate until the test results came back. Even though he was desperate to see his family, he knew that he would have to maintain distance until his results were returned.

The test result was negative. Banshi was delighted. He could finally see his family without the anxiety of whether he will infect them.

Knowing the importance of returning migrants self-isolating themselves and getting tested, Banshi dedicated himself to spreading awareness amongst the local community. His efforts led many other migrants to understand the significance of the pandemic, and the importance of self-isolation.

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