Panchami Bauri has been living with her husband and children in a remote area of Gandhichhara Tea Garden (Nat Mandir Line) in Satgaon Union, Srimangal Upazila, Moulvibazar District. Living in a family household of six people, Panchami Bauri is a tea garden worker, her husband Swami Sadananda Bauri and son Sanjit Bauri are day laborers.
Panchami's son Sanjit Bauri is unable to continue his study due to lack of money, so he had to quit his studies and chose to work as a day laborer to support his family. Daughter Sanjita Bauri cannot go to school because she has to stay at home to take care of her two younger siblings while her mother works at the tea garden. Panchama Bauri’s elder son Sujan Bauri studies in nursery school and her son Madhav Bauri is a child with disability.
Prior to Covid-19 outbreak, Panchama Bauri’s family expenditures were met by contributions from three members of the family. Her household depended on the livelihood generated by Panchama Bauri, her husband and her son, who provided support to maintain the household together. Their monthly income was approximately BDT. 10,000, which equates to USD $118, the family used to be well fed on that income. After Covid-19, Swami Sadananda Bauri and her son Sanjit Bauri became unemployed and they could not go around searching for work due to the countrywide lockdown. At present, Panchami Bauri is supporting her family with her monthly income of BDT.3000 (US $35.00), having to survive on only one meal a day. Moreover, her husband and her eldest son have no other work experience and are not getting any alternative employment opportunities in the area.
Panchami Bauri | Md. Abdul Hannan, Training Officer Breaking the Silence, Sreemangal
Panchami Bauri said that, "I have heard that the Union Parishad has given 10 kg of rice to a family like ours in this pandemic, but unfortunately, I did not get this support.” She also mentioned that she did not get any support from the tea garden authorities when she reached out to them for relief or emergency aid for Covid-19.
Understanding the preventative measure that need to be made to stay healthy, Panchami's family face challenges of obtaining clean water. There are no water wells nearby, so Panchami's family have to walk to another area to collect a clean source of water for drinking and washing their hands.
Panchami Bauri said that she always tells her neighbors and colleagues about the safety measures to prevent COVID-19 pandemic. She learned from the awareness raising messages disseminated by the UN joint programme (ILO, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women) that COVID-19 is a contagious disease, which requires washing hands and wearing masks in crowded places as a precaution, to avoid getting infected with the virus. UN Women is one of the partners of the joint programme, to ensure that women’s leadership aspects and collective bargaining power can be practiced to empower marginalized women tea garden workers like Panchami Bauri and enable her to practice her rights even during a global pandemic like Covid-19.