Nepali Heritage Charity Foundation and COVID-19 RAPID Action Task Force Calgary Nepalese Community Association provided food items to the freed haliyas of Budhinanda Municipality in coordination with Madimalika Media House in Bajura.

The food materials were provided to 51 freed haliya families at Pipaldali of the municipality today.

Deputy Mayor Shristi Regmi said that freed haliyas were provided with food materials after food crisis hit Haliya families hard.

Municipality Mayor Nripa Raj Khatri said that a sack of rice, pulses, salt and soap, among other materials, were provided to each family.

Haliya families started facing hard time following the second wave of coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown in the district. The lockdown badly affected daily wage earners.

Man Bir Luwar, a freed haliya, said his family felt great relief after receiving food materials during the pandemic. "I have been tossing and turning at night due to hunger," he added.

There are 51 freed haliyas in Budhinanda Municipality's Pipaldali. The haliya families were able to manage daily meals for the first 15 days of the lockdown, but after that they started facing food crisis as they were left with no work. Rangi Luhar, a local, said haliya families had been facing acute food crisis due to the pandemic.

He said he was able to manage food for 10 family members before the lockdown, but they were compelled to sleep on empty stomachs after the lockdown. He said that he had not been able to get a full meal for even a day ever since the administration imposed lockdown.

Similarly, Chandaya Luhar has 13 members in the family. The family used to earn a living by selling firewood and working on others' field at Kolti. He said Kolti Bazaar was closed after the lockdown and he could not sell firewood and work in the field since then. Chandaya said that they were compelled to sleep on empty stomachs after the lockdown.

Haliya families in the district do not have their own land, they work for their landlords. They have been staying in houses constructed by the state.

Dhani Luhar said food grains produced in the field could not last even for six months. The freed haliyas have demanded relief from the government. A local, Gorakh Sarki, said haliyas in the district were struggling for survival.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 24 2021, of The Himalayan Times.