Now the business has stopped and he has no money to feed his family of six, which gives the Singh family no more opportunities than to rely on charity.
Approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the nearest town of Jodhpur, Dechu looks like a village that has fallen through cracks.
Dechu, like many isolated communities, was virtually cut off. The nearest shop is 7 kilometers away, too far for a walk for many in the village, especially in the summer heat.
Govind Rathore, founder of the Sambhali Trust, a non-governmental organization working to empower women, knows the issues posed by Dechu’s isolation – his ancestral home.
“We always came here in a very secretive way – my parents or relatives took care of us. I lived here and we had access to Jodhpur. But now we are completely cut off,” Rathore said.
Last month, he decided he needed to do something to help, and mobilized a team of 14 people to provide villagers with basic necessities desperate for food and other supplies.
Every day, he and his team gather at 11:30 a.m. and work on a list of people fighting during a pandemic. They add more names as the lock stops.
Rathore and his team visit a local store and start packing food. Each package costs about $ 11 and includes items like flour, legumes, sugar, oil and spices – enough to feed a family of four for 10 days.
The state government acknowledges that the vast area of Rajasthan poses a challenge when it comes to aid distribution.
“We are the largest country in the country when it comes to the geographical area. So, even in normal times, providing services is a big challenge, especially in western Rajasthan,” said Rohit Singh, secretary general of Rajasthan’s state government.
There are several areas in the state where you have to provide government services to get them. It’s a challenge. But in these times of pandemic, the challenge is deepening further, he added.
Under the national program, the Indian government provides flour and rice for subsidized rates through local suppliers, but they do not include other basic items, such as oil or salt, Rathore said.
“What can people do with just flour or rice? They need more staples,” he added.
The government has also launched basic assistance for individuals who are below the poverty line and they can withdraw money from their banks.
But the nearest bank from Dechu is also 7 kilometers (4 miles) away, and the lines are long, Rathore said.
Rathore’s journey through social work began 14 years ago when he decided to hold elementary classes for several women who had never received an education. The following year he opened his own NGO.
Dechu’s isolation during the pandemic led Rathore to realize that nothing had really changed for his village for decades.
“There was nothing here during the crisis – no one was here to help people. I don’t know how they lived here. I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
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