With the lockdown bringing tourism to a standstill, the villages of the Singalila forest in Darjeeling are facing an acute crisis amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In a bid to help the families overcome this tough phase, students of premier institutes of Bengal — such as Presidency University Jadavpur University, Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), who are members of Quarantined Student Youth Network (QSYN) — have come forward to donate food and essentials to them.
Around this time every year, tourists flock to the region. But the pandemic has changed the situation this year. It has affected the villagers’ lives as most of the families depend on tourism for their income. Lack of connectivity and the difficult terrain have only added to their woes.
QSYN provided rice, daal, soyabean, oil and potato to the 25 families in Rammam village near Phalut. Apart from this, the group also distributed 1,100kg rice, 150kg pulses, 120kg oil and soaps among 230 families of 16 villages of Lodhoma and Rimbik in Darjeeling.
ISI student Manmatha Roy said, “We launched a fund collection drive to help these villages that are facing starvation. The fund was then used to provide relief material.” People trekking in this region have always received care and warmth from these sherpa villages and during such a crisis, when these people have exhausted their savings, the group feels it needs to do its bit to help them.
Across Bengal, the group has been operating 26 community kitchens and has served meals to nearly 1 lakh so far. They have provided rations to 10,000 families.
Source: Times of India