Saipum, a border village in the northeastern part of Mizoram with a population of about 3,000, could not remain a silent spectator to the cries of the urban residents. They came forward to help the needy, who have been jobless after being confined to their houses due to lockdown.
The village is located about 130 km from Aizawl and 36 km from Bhaga Bazaar, the nearest town in Assam’s Cachar district.
During the past two days, residents of the village under the aegis of the village-level task force on COVID-19 comprising village council members and Young Mizo Association (YMA) functionaries gathered for community work in search of vegetables and wild plants in forest and jhum lands.
“People gathered for the good cause for two days on Monday and Tuesday foraging vegetables and other forest products to be donated to the needy in the state capital Aizawl, which is worst affected by COVID-19,” Saipum village council president Lalbiaktluanga told said.
He said that residents were detailed into different sections based on the existing jurisdiction or section of YMA in the village where they were tasked to collect specific vegetables.
“Initially, we were sceptical about the turnout when we decided to go for community work as most villagers could not step out of their home due to lockdown in our village. However, the community work received a strong response from the villagers and not only a member but two from a family in some cases came forward for the good cause,” he told EastMojo.
Saipum YMA secretary Robert Lalramhuala, who is part of the village level task force, said that people who could not forage during the community work also donated what was left in their homes.
Two pick-up (mini) trucks and one medium (407) truck full of vegetables of different types and other provisions were dispatched to Aizawl and distributed to residents of two localities in Aizawl — Electric Veng and Saron Veng — which are among the COVID-19 worst hit, on Wednesday, he said.
This is not the first time rural villages are helping the urban poor.
Last year, several villages had distributed vegetables to towns during lockdown.
Many people are facing food grain shortage as Mizoram continue to grapple with the second wave of COVID-19.
Volunteers of local level task forces on COVID-19 are helping the poor, especially daily labourers, by giving monetary assistance and distributing vegetable and rice in their respective areas.
The state government has recently released over Rs 90 lakh to assist families, who struggle with food crisis due to coronavirus induced lockdown.
In the meantime, many good Samaritans have also come forward to help the state government and the poor by donating money to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and giving alms to the needy.
On May 16 and May 24, a group of Samaritans, who chose to be anonymous, raised money and donated them to the poor. More than 69 poorest families were assisted during the exercise, one of the members said.
Mizoram now has 2,743 COVID-19 active cases, while the total count stands at 10,937. At least 8,160 people have recovered and 34 have succumbed to the infection so far.
The infection rate is 2.91 per cent while the recovery rate is 74.61 per cent and the fatality rate is 0.32 per cent.