We are hoping to raise 300,000 INR (approximately $5,000 CAD), to support 100 emergency workers and their families with essentials for one month.
About Bagu alias Bagrudeen and the Emergency Workers of Tamil Nadu
Bagu is a playwright and theatre artist living in Tamil Nadu. When he saw his community struggling during India’s first wave of COVID-19, he paused his artistic work and began caring for the dead and dying. Since COVID hit, Bagu has personally cremated 700 people.
Bagu now works alongside 100 other emergency workers in truly dire circumstances. These ambulance drivers, crematorium workers, and mortuary workers often come from the lower castes of Indian society. They earn very little income and yet are working around the clock in response to the pandemic. Meanwhile, these vital and yet deeply undervalued workers are personally facing significant economic and health crises as the pandemic rages on. They desperately need our support to continue their urgent work.
Bagu hopes to raise enough money to support 100 emergency workers and their families for at least one month. Each family needs 3,000 Indian Rupees (about 50 Canadian Dollars) to survive for a month.
Tamilnadu is a state in southern India, far from Delhi and the centres of political power. According to The Times of India on May 12:
- there were 150,000 cases of COVID-19 in Tamilnadu;
- the state received only half the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses as the three other Indian states with similar populations; and
- eight districts in Tamilnadu reported 100% occupancy of ICU beds.
About Our Group
This campaign has been organized by 16 grad students in York University’s Film Department. While we are mostly based in Toronto, Canada, one of our classmates, Leena Manimekalai, has been attending our online classes from her home in Chennai, Tamilnadu.
As the second wave began to rage in India, we wanted to take action in a way that would provide tangible, grassroots support to Leena’s community. As a socially engaged filmmaker, Leena has deep roots in her community and has been working closely with the artists and activists who have been leading a range of volunteer COVID relief efforts locally. She shared Bagu’s story with us and we started this fundraiser as an act of solidarity with Leena, Bagu, and their community.
We hope you will be moved to help us.