When the second wave of Covid-19 hit in the country, Smit Narola, 17, and his elder sister Madhavi – like many other children across the country – lost their parents to the infection. That too within a gap of two weeks.
Nareshbhai Narola (44) and his wife Rekha (42) died of Covid-19 on April 29 and April 14 respectively, leaving both Smit and Madhavi orphaned.
The two children residing in Surat’s Yogi Chowk, dominated by migrants from Saurashtra, are now left to fend for themselves.
Madhvi is doing her Bachelors in Computer Management from S V Patel College in Surat, while Smit had cleared his Class 11 from Neel Madhav school at Yogi chowk and is now in Class 12.
Originally from Khakhariya village in Palitana of Bhavnagar, Smit said, “Now I have to take care of my elder sister. My father was working in an embroidery factory at Varachha. My sister had started taking tuitions for children of our neighbours. I have started selling toys and home ware items through e-commerce. Parents of my classmates helped me start this business… What I have learnt is not to break down, my sister motivates me and supports me.”
Prince Ranipa, 19, had completed his first year of BBA and his 16-year old sister Misri had finished Class 10 boards when their mother Shilpa died of Covid on May 8 in the Surat Civil hospital. The siblings had already lost their father Jitendra Kumar who was employed in Surat, to a road accident in 2008. Shilpa had then started embellishment work on sarees and dress materials.
With her death, Prince has started distributing newspapers in the morning and works in a shop to fend for his sister and grandmother Savitaben.
Prince, who is enrolled with Maliba college, told The Indian Express, “I am worried about what I should do to continue my studies. At present we are surviving with the savings and money which we have borrowed from relatives. We are staying in a rented one-room kitchen house. We have told the owner to give us relaxations for a few months…”
He has applied for jobs at private firms and is waiting for their response.
The Shree Saurashtra Patel Seva Samaj a voluntary organisation in Surat, has extended financial help to some 150 children, like Prince and Misri, who lost parents or breadwinners to Covid.
Shree Saurashtra Patel Sewa Samaj president Kanji Bhalara said, “The financial help was provided by some of the trustees, Lions club of Coppell in USA for those who had lost their parents to Covid-19. We have got applications from 1,000 widows who had lost their family members due to the infection in Surat… The beneficiaries were given cheques”.