An elderly migrant labourer from Uttar Pradesh had no money or any identification document with him while he was trying to register to return home by the special Vasai-Gorakhpur train for migrant labourers. It was only due to the timely help provided by a Vasai businessman that got him a coveted spot on the train back home.

This is not the only occasion when John Pareira, who runs a money transfer business SABS Enterprise in Vasai East area in the Palghar district of Maharashtra, came to the rescue of a stranded labourer. From day one of lockdown, he has ensured that stranded labourers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha don’t go penniless during this lockdown.

“There is an elderly daily labourer from Uttar Pradesh. He does not have a mobile phone. He did not have an Aadhaar card or any other identity proof with him here. So he was not able to register to return home. I asked his son to send his AADHAAR and Voter ID to me. Then I took a photocopy of the documents and gave him. That’s how he could register and return home.”,

John Pareira, Owner, Sabs Enterprise

There are thousands of migrant labourers who are stranded without work because of the lockdown in the Vasai-Virar area, one of the most populated industrial townships in the neighbourhood of Mumbai. Looking at their plight John Pereira stepped in to help by providing cash to labourers, who have no means to access banking services.

“Migrant labourers are without any income now. They were sending all their money back home. But during lockdown they need cash. They don’t have an ATM card or access to online banking facilities. They can’t get over-the-counter services at the banks. We have Aadhaar Enabled Payment Service. So they give me their Aadhaar number and bank account details and I facilitate online money withdrawals for them.” Says John

John runs his business for 8 hours a day but does not hesitate to help anyone in need during odd hours. “Whenever they need help they call me. They need money otherwise they will have to remain hungry. So I work whenever I get a call”, says John.

Even though his income has gone down by 95%, John has waived off his usual commission for migrants in distress. He charges only a nominal fee of Rs 10 per transaction. “There is a cash crunch but I manage it as I get other clients, who give money for transferring online. From that, I give money to the labourers when they need. They repay me after they can withdraw money online. My income has gone down by 95%. But I can’t even think of taking my usual fees and commission from desperate people during such a bad time,” John continues.